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Timberlands U-Cut

Timberlands U-Cut

May 25th, 2008  · stk

Yesterday, Scott spent the day cutting a cord of wood at an Island Timberlands clear-cut. It was hard work, but for $30 a cord, who could resist? Find out more

A Chainsaw, Cord-of-Fire-Wood-Cutting Day

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We heat our home with a wood stove. Last winter wasn't super cold, but it did seem to linger and we were scraping the bottom of the wood shed by the time warm spring weather finally arrived. We're already thinking about building next year's supply, but not eager to shell out approximately $170 per cord. When Travis called to say that we had an opportunity to cut our own fire wood for $30 a load, we changed our family's weekend plan, so that Scott could participate.

Alex and I woke up at 6 AM on Saturday, tended to the chickens, fixed a fresh, fried-egg breakfast and then headed over to Travis' house. Alex stayed, to play with Miki, while Travis and I headed up to a clear cut area behind Chase River, to chainsaw up a bunch of fire wood.

The land is owned by Island Timberlands and for a handful of days this year (6) it is opened up to the public, so that they can cut fire wood. The "U-Cut" program is unique and (as far as clear-cutting can be considered environmentally friendly) it is a beneficial way for the timber company to get rid of unwanted timber. (Normally, such timber is heaped into a great big pile and burned).

Neither Travis, nor myself, have been on a timber land chain sawing trip, so for us, it was a new adventure!

To read more about our chain sawing, sweat dripping day .... read on ...

Ready, Set, Permit, Safety ... Cut Cut Cut

We followed the directions that Travis was given, over the phone and at a little after seven in the morning, we were at the clear-cut site. It wasn't too far from where we live, which was nice and it's still mind-boggling to me that after less than a half hour drive from our home, we were in the bush!

Outside of Chase River, paralleling the Island Highway, we drove past an unlocked gate. It was dirt road from that point forward and after a couple of clicks, we came to a checkpoint. We were issued Island Timberlands "Special Forest Products Permits", for $30 each and Travis rented a pair of chaps, for $5. (There are safety requirements for using a chainsaw which include: bucking pants (or chaps), safety glasses and safe footwear. If you don't have this equipment, you can't cut.)

We were told where to go, which was only another half a kilometer into the clear cut. We stopped beside the road and surveyed the wood. All of the undesirable timber had been dragged and placed along side the road. Only a ditch separated us from a 10-foot wall of strewn timber of various sizes.

Some of the logs were very big (2 feet diameter), some very small (3 inches diameter) and everything else in-between. Some of the longer, straight Cedar logs had been painted "no cutting". "These," it was explained, "will be cut by on-site 'Alaska mills' and the timber used to make benches and deck material.

The "U-Cut" site is actually operated by Nanaimo Fish and Game Club. Island Timberlands donates the wood and opens up their lands, but the $30 we paid goes to support the Fish and Game Club (they, in-turn, support a variety of other, local clubs, citizens and worthy causes, as well as their own club).

The skys were overcast when we started cutting. As I didn't have chaps, Travis began with his chainsaw, cutting up wood, which I then lobbed into (and out of) the ditch, splitting it with a maul (and wedge, if needed), then loaded it into either his truck or mine.

Travis' chain wasn't sharpened very well, so I put on the chaps and we switched off. I had just sharpened my Husqvarna chainsaw blade the night before, so I was ready to saw up some wood!

At first, we were enviously eying others having 2-foot saw blades, as some of the timber was quite large. In the end, however, we realized that (a) my little 16" blade could cut through 2-foot diameter logs (with a bit of finesse) and (b) splitting such large, green rounds was a LOT of work! (We cut rounds that were so heavy, we could barely move them ... need we cut larger? We don't think so!) Instead, we think it's best to concentrate on foot-sized logs, which can easily be quartered. (We buried our only wedge into a number of large rounds, having to resort to creative methods to extricate it).

When it came time to swop cutting/bucking chores, Travis went to put on his brand new chain, only to realize that it was too large for his chainsaw. So, for the rest of the day, it was up to Scott and his trusty Husqvarna to do all of the cutting.

Around 10:30, the sun broke through and it began to warm up. I'd brought 2 quarts of refreshment and drank every drop, wishing that I'd brought more. For some reason, working with a chainsaw is sweat-dripping work (it's probably tied to the fact that it's such a dangerous activity, so one has to remain attentive and alert).

It was hard, hot, dirty work! At one point, Scott said to Travis, "Hey, this isn't a bad deal! We pay $30 and get a cord of fire wood. Not only that, but it's like a free membership to a gym too!"

Dog tired, we finally finished around noon and we were stacked to the gills with as much wood as our trucks would hold. We bid our nearby wood-cutting mates adieu and lumbered back home with part of our year's supply of wood.

 

Notes to Self: For the Next Time

My truck bed is roughly 6.5-feet wide by 8-feet long by 20-inches tall. Filled to the top of the bed, that is roughly 86 cubic feet. A cord of wood is 4-feet by 4-feet by 8-feet. In order to haul a cord, one has to haul a bed and a half of wood, which we did, by wedging in some planks along the side of the bed.

Make some simple side rails - (3)2x4 stakes and (3) 1x4 slats for each side of the truck.

Buy some chaps at Ono. Though $5 is a cheap rental price, it'd be a good idea to have a pair and use them at home (cheap insurance / safety).

Take more water (and take food) - Cutting is hard work and I was starting to cramp up. Better to stay hydrated and fed, as it will reduce fatigue (which is when you can make a BIG mistake with the chainsaw, when you're tired)

More than one wedge - In case one (or more) get stuck.

Take a couple extra sharpened chainsaw chains - It's easier to change a chain, than try to sharpen it in the field.

Consider buying a peavey - To position, hold, move or turn logs.

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1.flag Carolynne Comment
05/26/08
Thanks for your comments - we [Island Timberlands] appreciate the feedback.

We are glad to support a safe activity benefiting people from our communities and also the Fish and Game Club.

Take care,
Carolynne Sacht
2.flag Gary Comment
05/27/08
Wow! that was a hell of a days work Scott. When you said you were cutting wood for fuel with a chainsaw, I kinda figured you would be in the back yard with a tree, cutting 5 or 6 pieces.

How wrong I was, it was on a massive scale huh? Just had a brew at work and thought this was a real good read with great photo's to show the enormous wood cutting trip you and your friend had. You must of saved some cash for winter fuel there at $30 a truck load.

We just got our last 13 week fuel bill for gas (runs the cooker, and boiler to heat radiators and the hot water). I knew that fuel had gone up but this was a whopping £260! (I am sure we must have a gas leak somewhere) I guess in your money that's $520. Doesn't that make you feel better after a hard day's graft and $30 :)

Great post Scott, I am off to buy a chainsaw and look for a near-by forest (not many of them around here though) ;)

Gz ;)
3.flag stk Comment
05/27/08
LOL ... yep @ hard work and feeling good about getting 1/3 of our winter's heating supply (about).

I've already built side-rails for the truck and am heading to Walker Saw Shop for a set of chaps/feller's pants.

We're going again this Saturday (last day this U-Cut site it open). ;)

"Ouch!" on your natural gas bill. We don't have piped natural gas, being in the boonies and rely on electricity (called "Hydro", here) for cooking, hot water and baseboard heaters (which we seldom run). It costs us about $150 every two months, which is like £75 ... big difference! Mind you, you've got 2 teenage girls in your house. :p

4.flag Gary Comment
05/27/08
Lol at girls using all the gas ! They do like their warmth whilst applying make-up and styling their hair.

So your truck is ready for more logs and your getting some chaps/feller's pants, look out Island Timberlands - we want your wood ;)

Don't forget some nibbles and plenty of drinks :)

Over here, we have been to some agricultural shows in the summer and a few of them have this guy there who carves owls, bears, mushrooms and all-sorts from tree stumps with a chainsaw, they are fantastic and he does this for a living selling the finished article on to us punters watching, not cheap either, but he is amazing to watch, he makes it looks child's-play.

Catch ya soon,
Gz

5.flag stk Comment
05/27/08

Here's a picture of the spiffy new side rails (bonus that the house trim 'sorta' matches the truck color). :D

We live in a touristy area and I'm sure there are chainsaw artists around here too. I haven't watched one work, but I've admired their skills in the finished product (some are quite large!)

6.flag Gary Comment
05/27/08
Photozoom in a comment, how great is that :) Never thought of that before!

Your truck looks good with the ' spiffy new side rails ' and will hold a lot more fire wood now.

Glad to help with the Brit slang :) 'Hard graft' is just 'hard work' as you now know I guess after looking it up ! Isn't it funny how the English language changes.

I realised before when I put 'gas' I thought you might think petrol - you guys call it gas - we now call it a ruddy rip-off as its now £1.20 per LITRE (£1.20 x 4.54 =
£5.45 per UK Gallon - $10.90 in your money per gallon) !!!!!!!!

Go on, make me sick, how much is your Gas (Petrol). :(

Gz


7.flag stk Comment
05/27/08
Hmmm ... looks like the lowest price is $1.329/liter.

I thought my truck was bad to drive HERE! I can't imagine filling the tank THERE!

Mind you, in terms of buying power, a pound is roughly equivalent to a dollar. Yabba gets £2k for a website there, I can't get the $4k CAD equivalent, people freak. An equivalent site here goes for $2k ... so with his £2k site, Yabba can buy 1,667 liters and with my $2k site, we buy less - approximately 1,515 liters. ;)
8.flag Yabba Comment
05/27/08
It's because I'm worth it :D

¥
9.flag Gary Comment
05/28/08
Lol, you get it for half the price to what we pay :( Dam the UK Government for its high fuel tax :(

I see Yabba made a guest appearance in leaving a comment, if you mention his name up he pops :)

Gz

10.flag Glenn Comment
06/03/08
Ah the days of cutting wood. Just reading your story took me back some 25 years to the days of weekend trips with the family along the local train tracks were you could cut all the wood you wanted in those days. I'm sure that has changed now, but you are right about the hard work. A few weekends out of the month cutting wood and there is no need for a gym. I also remember that was the fist time my Step Dad gave me a very small piece of Red Man Chewing Tobacco to try. I don't think it was 30 seconds before my world starting spinning around and I had to lay down on the brush pile before I fell over. Needless to say I never tried the stuff again, lol :)

11.flag Glenn Comment
06/03/08
oh a few more things I would add to your list. Hearing protection and eye protection and maybe even a face shield. Good call on the chaps, I watched my Grandfather take a chunk out of his leg one day with his chain saw. Poor guy did note even miss a beat since he had been burned over 80% of his body years prior he did not have any feeling. I had to tell him to take a break and patch himself up. Man they made them hard core back then.
12.flag stk Comment
06/04/08
LOL @ yer Redman chewing tobacco story. (Mine came when I was working as a roustabout in the oil fields, while in High School. One of the "fun" jobs we had was to clean out one of those huge oil storage tanks. We had to make sure there was enough oxygen in there, to work, then we'd push the 3' oil sludge out a six-inch drain hole with modified "brooms". It was hot, smelly work and not a good time to try Copenhagen ... damn near passed out after 5 minutes! LOL) :D

I have safety glasses, but often don't use them b/c 3 minutes after strapping on a chainsaw, I'm dripping wet with sweat. Hearing protection is a good idea, though I don't like to dull the senses when working with such dangerous equipment.
13.flag Pam Medinsky Comment
08/20/08
hi im looking for 2-3 logs 10 feet long and 8-10 inch round to fix my fence anyone know were i can get these thanks pam
14.flag Guy Gore-Langton Comment
11/16/13
I was woundering if you had any more open weekends coming up and how far from Victoria the areas are located. Ho do I contact. Thank you Guy.
15.flag stk Comment
11/16/13
Guy - They are still running the U-cut place, but it's normally during autumn and spring weekends (keep an eye out in the local Nanaimo papers during the spring). It's about an hour and a half drive north of Victoria. There may be U-Cut places closer to you. Here's one: http://www.valleyfishandgame.com/u-cut_firewood.htm
16.flag Guy Gore-Langton Comment
11/17/13
I would like to know if the cutting is still going on and if so where. Thank you Guy
17.flag stk Comment
11/18/13
I have no idea if cutting is still going on, much less where (it's been several years since we cut firewood at the S. Nanaimo U-Cut place).

Have you tried contacting the people listed in the link I pasted up? That's probably your best option and ... you're welcome! ;)