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Are my logs too big? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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Are my logs too big?

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  • Are my logs too big?

    I have tried to fire my oven today, but with poor results.

    I have started with kindling, and built up to logs perhaps two inches in diameter and then logs.

    The trouble is that the fire goes out, then the smoke really starts in earnest until I can get a flame going again.

    Are my logs perhaps too big? Please see this photo:


    When building a fire, I try to get at least a few bits off the oven floor to try to ventilate, and I sometimes blow air in by mouth to generate some oxygen. But sometimes I end up blowing out what flames I do have!

    Thoughts on my log size?

    Many thanks

    P de D

  • #2
    Re: Are my logs too big?

    Well, they're bigger than mine. My husband cut my logs about 12 to 14 inches long, and split them so the biggest of them is probably not more than 4inches across in the largest dimension. They're easier for me to handle that way. And they're really dry.

    Do you have a door yet? I find that my fires do much better when I have the door in- raised off the floor about an inch and tilted back so the top of the door is just past the vent. This allows air in the bottom and hot gas (and most of the smoke) out the chimney. They catch better and burn better this way, although it's not as satisfying for the pyromaniac in me...

    If your oven is still drying out, and it takes quite a while even after the curing fires are done, it will be harder to make the fire catch. Or it has been for me.

    And take a look at Jame's top-down fire video- that's how I build my wood pile for fires and it works pretty well. The only difference is I usually use a couple of newspaper twists to start with, on top of newspaper strips (fold it in half and tear off 1 inch or so strips) in addition to the kindling and loose bark I use on top. I sometimes use a firestarter, but usually the newspaper does the trick.

    I do envy his match, though!
    Elizabeth

    http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/e...html#post41545

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Are my logs too big?

      Hey P de D,

      Take a look at our [brand new] Top-Down Fire video. You can see the size of wood that easily catches fire and fully combusts there. Your comment on putting your head in the oven and blowing on the fire is so familiar to me. It was the smoke smell in my hair and clothes that motivated me to be more serious about my fire building technique. :-)

      http://www.fornobravo.com/video/top_down_fire.mov
      http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f41/...ideo-5294.html

      The general idea is that you can go up in wood size (kindling, to 1", to 2" to 3", etc.) as your oven gets hotter -- but you need to make sure your oven is hot enough to almost immediately combust your wood. Not smoke or smolder. That is one easy way to know your wood isn't too big.

      I bought an axe and I split my wood on a big granite stone. One big piece into 2-3 smaller piece is pretty easy.
      James
      Pizza Ovens
      Outdoor Fireplaces

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Are my logs too big?

        P de D,

        Two thoughts, one of which echoes what already has been said. Your logs are far too large to use to START a fire. Once it gets going really well--lots of flame--with smaller sticks, then you can use larger pieces. Second, looking at the cut ends of the wood in your pic, I see hardly any discolouration and very little checking (radial cracks) that always appear as the wood dries. These suggest to me that your wood has not been seasoned long enough, hence the difficulty in keeping the fire going.

        Split up a bunch of your wood, set it aside to season well. In the meantime, search for wood that's really, really dry. It will make all the difference.

        Jim
        "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Are my logs too big?

          James, thank you, brillaint video, very encouraging. Nice one.

          Jim, I take that on board about the logs - I bought the logs 'seasoned', but in retrospect...

          Both, I'm certainly going to split down my logs now. I notice how many of them, the large ones, appear to be quarters from a tree. Maybe that's how the machine (log splitter) works?

          To get anything smaller you need to chop by hand. Who knows, and anyway, that's my only option now! But they're not an easy chop, and I have a sharp hatchet (incidentally made in the US from hickory, so if all else fails!)

          P de Dome

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Are my logs too big?

            btw, James, you pointing out about sticking your head in the fire made me laugh - and made me realise how silly I must have looked! Yes, I now smell of fire even after a good shower!

            Jim, if i leave these logs insitu, outside under cover, have you any time scale they might take to develop radial cracks?

            Thank you

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Are my logs too big?

              I may be mistaken, but isn't the general rule of thumb - 12 months (1 yr) of seasoning for every 4" of log diameter? That is of course, IF you have the logs stacked properly for air flow and covered (but not wrapped) to keep heavy rains and snow off of them.

              RT

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Are my logs too big?

                I can't say that mine are stacked for airflow by any means. It's got to amount to a quarter to a half a litre (sorry for metric) cubed of timber. Loosely packed. Dry, but 'outside'.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Are my logs too big?

                  Originally posted by Puy de Dome View Post
                  ....Yes, I now smell of fire even after a good shower!
                  Exactly!
                  James
                  Pizza Ovens
                  Outdoor Fireplaces

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Are my logs too big?

                    I sprang for a gas log splitter from the Big Orange Home Center. Building an oven and arbor pretty much did in my elbow and shoulder.

                    The splitter is amazingly easy. Be careful, I know someone who lost a finger with one. Still, I think it's safer than an axe and a lot easier on my wimpy, middle-aging frame.
                    Ken H. - Kentucky
                    42" Pompeii

                    Pompeii Oven Construction Video Updated!

                    Oven Thread ... Enclosure Thread
                    Cost Spreadsheet ... Picasa Web Album

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Are my logs too big?

                      Jim, if i leave these logs insitu, outside under cover, have you any time scale they might take to develop radial cracks?
                      Jim's been drying and using wood for several decades that I've known him, so his (and others') practical advice will be most useful, but here's a pretty good backgrounder I came across: Best burning wood firewood
                      Un amico degli amici.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Are my logs too big?

                        Gang,

                        My wife offered to split my wood for me. I think it's like therapy for putting up with my obesession/build this past year and half.

                        Dick

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Are my logs too big?

                          P de D(I like the way Cjim did that)
                          I would suggest covering them with a tarp of some kind...just on the top...don't surround them...if you can raise them up off the ground a bit(that is part of the airflow part)...and also facing the stack southwest wouldn't hurt either...that is what the "good ole' boys" down here say to do
                          Best
                          Dutch
                          "Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity. " Charles Mingus
                          "Build at least two brick ovens...one to make all the mistakes on and the other to be just like you dreamed of!" Dutch

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Are my logs too big?

                            Out here where we are usually talking hardwoods, ie. Eucalypts, drying takes a year per inch of timber in the diameter dimension and not the length. However, that said, a 6" log will take 3 years to dry, one inch all round.
                            Softer woods will be more open graied and releases their moisture much easier and hence quicker, but they don't usually burn for as long but they do produce plenty of heat.
                            You can burn green wood BUT you have to ensure a raging fire for it to catch as the resins and oils within will encourage the burn. Look at the trees that are burning in California today, the Eucalypts simply flare up and burn in a couple of minutes but it is only the dead wood that catches. I have burnt 1 month cut logs in my slow combustion heater but must have plent of reddual heat ther for it to catch and plenty of air intake to ensure a constant burn or else it smoulders and eventually go out with a lots of smoke.


                            P de D
                            You will see the ends of your logs split as they dry. This is a real problem for woodworkers and wood turners trying to dry special wood samples and they paint the ends to reduce the moisture loss and hence shrinking of the wood fibres.
                            One thing that you could do is once you have finished your cooking and your oven is too cool to cook, load it with your split wood and use the residual heat to dry your next firing wood.

                            Neill
                            Prevention is better than cure, - do it right the first time!

                            The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know


                            Neillís Pompeiii #1
                            http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/n...-1-a-2005.html
                            Neillís kitchen underway
                            http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f35/...rway-4591.html

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Are my logs too big?

                              Originally posted by thebadger View Post
                              Gang,

                              My wife offered to split my wood for me. I think it's like therapy for putting up with my obesession/build this past year and half.

                              Dick
                              Splitting wood is a lot less expensive than therapy, and more effective. Take that....

                              James
                              Pizza Ovens
                              Outdoor Fireplaces

                              Comment

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