Sunday, 14 April 2013

Kindling Sticks and Free Firewood

Who Buys Kindling Sticks?

Recently, I was chatting to someone on the phone when they asked me if I'd be interested in buying chopped sticks for kindling the fire. I found this quite amusing, as the thought had never really crossed my mind to BUY such a thing, despite the fact that I do shell out almost £1 at a time for a box of firelighters. I'd prefer not to, obviously, but needs must when you are in a hurry to get some heat going in the place and the sticks and logs are damp. Anyhow, the conversation prompted this blog post.
 
Pallets make great firewood, most rural dwellers with open fires, stoves or logburners know this and most downshifters soon learn. Not only do the pallets split into fantastic firewood, they make great kindling sticks. But burning pallets isn't always the best thing to do, especially as a frugaler. First and foremost, we need to build them into other, more important things that we need. Pallets are like gold, we treasure them. If, like us, you have no vehicle in which to transport pallets, then any that do come your way have to be used accordingly, otherwise it's a bit like burning money.
 
To date, we've had duck houses, planters, fencing, quail housing, compost 'bins' and log stores all built from recycled pallets and offcuts of wood, but we are now down to our last 3 pallets... a tragedy, in my book! There may well be more in the future, but many of the builders' merchants are now charging for them or else insisting they be returned, so I'd to think very carefully how best to utilise the last of our stash. The decision was soon made... we need a stick store, thus freeing up valuable space in the log store.

Stick or log stores are easy to make, when you think about it - they just need to contain the fire fodder and keep the rain off it while allowing the wind to blow through and dry it all. So, another little corner was cleared and the three pallets propped up and nailed together, secured with a piece of board across the top.

The top board has now been felted and a raised base made by laying straps of wood across the bottom.  We've already begun filling it up with all the sticks that are beng collected from around the garden and along the roadsides as we walk/cycle - most brought down by the weight of the recent snow. It shouldn't take long to fill it up at this rate, then it's just a case of keeping it topped up with whatever kindling we can lay our hands on for free. A cubic metre's worth of free, covered space dedicated to storing free sticks - nothing like being prepared.

This basic design, if I can even call it that, is the same one used for so many pallet projects. I've even seen goat housing and poultry sheds built this way and, nearby, there's a wildlife hide constructed in the exact same manner. A piece of tarpaulin draped over the front is sufficient to stop the rain blowing straight in and soaking everything.

Next time you spot a pallet lying by the roadside, in a skip or cast aside in any other way, think of the real frugalers - we simply love our old pallets.

Frugaldom.

16 comments:

  1. we get free pallets, break them down and use for kindling and the thick bits for firewood - we never buy it - froogs xxx

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    1. I accidentally hit the publish button before even finishing writing the post, so your comment arrived before I'd completed. LOL Likewise, we never buy kindling, although I did, at ne point, used to give an old guy a couple of pounds for bags of offcuts from a local joiner's shop. Not likely to find any of those about here, though, so the verges and garden need to suffice.

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  2. Don't forget pine cones. Although we don't use many or use them all the time, they do get a fire going with some paper and only a few sticks of kindling. We have picked enough off the ground in the last few weeks to fill two grow bag trays! We have been lucky to be given access to a fallen down shed and have collected probably enough kindling for most of next winter. We do however, need to order logs for next year.

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    1. Pine cones have featured heavily in my past years of collecting (still do), as have pine needles, which are great for the garden, especially mulching around blueberries and anything else that likes an cidic soil. :) I've even use that as flooring for the quail.

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  3. This is what we do although we do need to make a dry store for them. Yours is a really good idea.

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    1. Thanks Jille, we're always struggling for dry storage space as summers are so short here in soggy Scottie land. :)

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  4. on our travels today we saw lots of branches down in the verge. The traffic was awful so we couldnt safely stop. when we got home I said to OH we passed about 12 bags of kindling today. it made me feel sick. we would have been hooted if we had stopped.

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    1. Sol, we are very lucky to live in a rural location where the traffic is scarce. It also means I can walk 5 minutes along the lanes and collect enough from the verges to last a day or two. Cycling a couple of miles provides a full basket worth without a problem, although the farmers sometimes give me funny looks when they're passing. LOL

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  5. We have only once bought kindling and logs (from a garage). We had got to a holiday home for a lovely weekend away and when we arrived it had a wood burner as well as the central heating, as it was November and pretty chilly (we were staying in Cockermouth) we decided to buy the wood rather than feed the meter too much of our hard earned money.

    We literally sat there watching our money go up in flames!!

    We've never done it again and if a holiday home has a wood burner or open fire place advertised we take some with us., not enough to impact too much on the weight of the car and so the fule costs but enough to have a nice cosy fire each evening of our stay.

    At home we are lucky enough to be surrounded on three sides by woods so we are able to forage freely for kindling and logs.

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    1. I would love to be able to forage for free logs but we dont have any woodlands around here that permit it and now, without the car, no way of moving logs even if we could get them. But I'm told that my £40 load is really good for the price - we culdn't collect, cut and split that many in 6 hours, so it's kind of looked upon as an added luxury - paying the logman 6 hours work to cut, split and deliver us a month's worth of logs - he's happy, as he's being paid to remove the trees by the owners and then gaining extra from us to help dispose of them. At least, that's how I like to think about it to avoid getting upset at paying for them. :)

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  6. We are very lucky to be able to pick up as many free pallets from a printers we know. I don't know how long that will last but we are taking what we can for as long as we can. Luckily Mr Sft has a van so he can fit quite a few pallets in the back at a time.

    It does take time and work to cut them up. Now the worst of the weather is over (I hope, touch wood :) we will focus on filling up the wood stores again. We have 2 and also store wood in our old shed.

    Our family and friends are great at giving us any spare wood that comes there way. My dad made friends with the builders working on a property down the road and got a lot of wood, wheel barrowing it back. Bless him he's 78!

    My parents also collect pine cones and have found some are great for burning (those more compact ones). The children in my class collect cones for me around the school as we have lots of trees in the grounds.

    Sft x

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    1. It's great that you can get freebies, SFT, I'd certainly be making the most of those but would be so tempted to build them into all sorts of other things! LOL You're also very lucky t have friends and family nearby who will do such things for you. Long may t continue.

      How are your plans going for the great global adventures? (I MUST try to set aside time to keep up with other peoples' blogs, I'm falling way behind.)

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    2. I mean their not there (bad teacher!)

      My dad actually built our 2nd wood store out of pallets (this is what he does-they come over to cottage sit when we are away-I think they'll have a little break-I come back to a brand new wood store filled with wood-how much work for a man in his late 70s-And what an amazing father).

      Global Adventures are in place for 2014. We were going to Japan this Summer but found out it's better to go in Spring (Cherry Blossom is beautiful) so we are going next April. We are taking my niece to China in the Summer
      This year we are (hopefully) going to Italy (to see the Dolomites) and Youth Hosteling in Cornwall (2 x 1 week trips paid for entirely by Tesco Club card vouchers-Mr Sft gets petrol with them for work and Gift Vouchers which we've saved up).

      I bet you wished you hadn't asked!

      Sft x

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    3. Not at all, I think it's great that you have done so much over the past years and now have your house, lifestyle and wherewithall to save for even more travel. :) As for the Tesco vouchers, that's amazing! My only word of caution to anyone else even remotey considering doing similar to you is ... don't try this at home if you live in a remote, rural location with no regular source of income. LOL

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  7. does anyone how many bag you get out a pallet

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    1. I guess that would depend on what size of pallet and what size bag but I'm sure if you can source pallets for free and have the means to split them into firewood then they'll be cheaper than buying bags of any description.

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