I AM the King of Kindling

| 11/10/2011 8:18:13 AM

Tags: heating with wood, firewood, kindling, Cam Mather,

I find a lot of stupid ways to waste my time, and kindling is one of them. Kindling is small scrap wood that you use to start a fire. If you were to just crumple up newspaper and toss a big round log in to your woodstove, you’d be really disappointed. You’ll have much better luck starting your fire if you build a layer of kindling on top of your newspaper, and then start with small pieces of split wood that have lots of edges that will catch fire nicely.

Our neighbors Don and Debbie Garrett operate a mill where they produce hardwood flooring, trim, and all sorts of other wood products. I put together their catalog and their website for them at http://ddgarrettmillwork.com/. For all your millwork needs, call Don & Deb. How’s that for a non-subliminal endorsement? Needless to say, they end up with a lot of scrap that they pile up in their yard until it looks like this:


I started grabbing scrap wood from them many years ago. Some if it is great stuff and I’ve built lots of neat things with it like shelves, chicken coops … you name it. Some of it is too small to build anything with but it’s great for kindling.

Originally I just used to cut it by hand, with a handsaw. This was stupid, but it’s what a “cidiot” like me does before I figured out that there had to be a better way. A few times I tried cutting it with the chainsaw while it was hanging off the back of the pickup truck, but loose wood like this jumps all over the place and it made it really dangerous to cut that way.

Eventually I built a jig made out of T-steel bars that I bought from the feed mill in town. I put old logs at the bottom so that I don’t have to cut right to the ground which saves saw blades. Once I’ve got it filled up, I cinch it all down with ratchet tie downs that make it really tight. I’m currently patenting this design and was hesitant to release these images to the internet for fear that it will be copied.

john & virginia ledoux
12/6/2011 3:56:16 AM

Over kill on PPE, gloves, helmet....

maddy who
11/21/2011 2:09:18 PM

Joe Figga: I think he was just kidding. Lighten Up!

glen graham
11/14/2011 9:16:40 PM

I think your idea of making use of what would otherwise go to waste is excellent, even if it did not pan out as a sound business in the end. Maybe your friend Don could offer it for free for people to come and take it away - making a kind of free advertising out of it (local newspaprer - "kind mill owner offers old people free kindling" sort of thing) for him and solving his problem of getting rid of the stuff at the same time?

joe figga
11/13/2011 6:02:05 AM

I can't believe you are going to patent that. Spending how much money to patent a "design" that you use for a business you barely find it worth running. Once you do have it patented. Who are you going to sue once somebody starts using it? I'd also be supremly suprised if your patent application wasn't dismissed on the grounds of prior art. Not to mention, why the hell would you post an article on Mother Earth News if you didn't want people copying your idea? That's what this entire magazine is about.

russ bowman
11/12/2011 3:07:35 AM

Here is a business you might start. Get boxes from a locally owned grocery store. Cut holes in the bottom sides. Put news papers soaked a little with oil on the bottom, crumpled up. On that, put kindling, and on that, put larger fire logs. Wrap the box in twine a couple places to hold the logs in. Then sell the boxes at the same local grocery store at a percentage of sales. Viola! if you live near a state or national park, you have instant fire boxes for city campers to light with a match and forget it!

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