I like a man that can chop wood. Not a metrosexual with his skincare routine and mirror addiction, or the hipster who spends longer worrying about his clothes than I do. But it seems ‘men’s men’ are in short supply. Many guys lift weights to get fit, then wax off every bit of hair to show off their newly acquired muscles. But how many of them could get their hands dirty chopping a batch of logs, or know how to start a good fire? Where are the real men?
The fashion for beards is going strong, so maybe things are changing. Not everyone is going to be an outdoorsy kind of guy, but with rising energy bills more of our guys are looking for traditional ways to get cosy. The popularity of wood burning stoves has shot up, meaning more of us are enjoying a real flame and getting to grips with logs. (Even if they do come pre-chopped, in a builder’s merchants’ one tonne bag.)
Quick wood facts:
Calories burned chopping wood: approx 350 (based on 12 stone guy)
To store a tonne bag of logs you’ll need: a log store roughly 1270mm (H) x 1200mm (W) x 635mm (D) ( a 1m3 tonne bag will actually contain around 0.7 m3 of logs).
To work out what size stove you’d need: measure the length, width and height of your room. You’ll need approximately 1kW of heat output for every 14 cubic meters of space.
You’ll also need: a stump to split logs on and a splitting maul (you only need a long-handled axe if you’re chopping trees down).
How to stack logs
When it comes to storing your logs, keeping them under cover with good air flow is important. A log store is a sensible purchase. But if you’re stacking logs outside it makes sense to stack bark side up to protect the logs from rain (a tip from an unlikely bestselling book, Norwegian Wood by Lars Mytting).
How to choose your firewood.
Firewood is either softwood or hardwood. You’ll pay around £100 for a tonne, although kiln-dried firewood can be far more expensive. Ensure the logs are well seasoned and dry – knock logs together and listen. If they’re dry, they’ll ring loud and hard. If damp, you’ll get a dull thud.
Where I live, with no shortage of country lanes, I often find bits of branches, blown off trees and lying in, or next to, the road or in woods. But remember that this wood does belong to the landowner – so ask permission before helping yourself to logs or going ‘sticking’ my grandma used to call it.
Which wood burns best?
OAK logs will warm you well,
If they’re old and dry.
LARCH logs of pine wood smell,
But the sparks will fly.
BEECH logs for Christmas time,
YEW logs heat well.
SCOTCH logs it is a crime,
For anyone to sell.
BIRCH logs will burn too fast,
CHESTNUT scarce at all
HAWTHORN logs are good to last,
If you cut them in the fall
HOLLY logs will burn like wax
You should burn them green
ELM logs like smouldering flax
No flame to be seen
PEAR logs and APPLE logs,
they will scent your room.
CHERRY logs across the dogs,
Smell like flowers in bloom
But ASH logs, all smooth and grey,
burn them green or old;
Buy up all that come your way,
They’re worth their weight in gold.
“Wood warms you twice …once when you cut itand again when you burn it.”