Fire Building

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tiredofspam says it's too quiet, so how about an on-topic post?
Over the last couple of years, I've been learning how to build fires. Shop scraps are very often a large part of these fires, as they can be great for not only kindling but as the main part of the fire. So, as a guide, or perhaps a warning, here's what I've noticed using various shop scraps to build fires.
For the main part of the fire, it's hard to beat the bits cut off from logs that have been made in to lumber. They're usually small enough to burn easily, and it's easy to get a lot of them when you're milling up small pieces of wood-be firewood into usable lumber. Sometimes the logs I work with yield only about 50% usable lumber, so there's quite a lot of fire-fodder there.
As kindling, I look for material that has come off my tools. If you want to build a fire from a few embers, plane shavings are excellent. They burn fast and because of their shape and thickness usually have a lot of air between them. Because they do burn so quickly, though, a mountain of them can be reduced to almost nothing in less than 5 minutes.
From the power tools, jointer shavings seem to work best. They tend to be long, thin and fairly uniform, which allows air to move around ok. To start a fire, you only need a gallon-sized bucket worth (which is also their drawback--they're hard to get rid of). They have a tendency to burn on the top, but not so much underneath. For flame, the charred parts consistently need to be blown off.
Planer shavings work ok as well, but tend to scrunch together and not burn cleanly. A fire of planer shavings needs constant attending to keep burning hot.
Both jointer and planer shavings can be useful in starting a fire, however. They ignite quickly and do burn hot, which is great for catching smaller pieces on fire.
In between the main part of the fire and the kindling are the various wood scraps. They're too small to be part of the main fire (a 5-gallon bucket of them will burn in just a few minutes), but too large to be used as kindling. Often, these pieces are useful as something for the kindling to catch.
Sawdust is terrible for building a fire, but can add some entertainment and excitement once the fire is built. Toss a handful on and watch the show. Repeat as often as the dust holds out.
Puckdropper
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"Puckdropper" wrote:

<snip> ----------------------------------- You are obviously not concerned with air pollution problems or potential fire hazards from hot sparks coming from hot embers.
Lew
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I keep shop scraps in a barrel for kindling too. the dried wood starts easy and burns well. We have also found that our paper shredder provides a very good starter under the kindling. Starts quickly and smoulders for a while.
I'm guessing Lew doesn't have a wood stove or fireplace.
RonB
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"RonB" wrote:

------------------------------ In Southern California?
Even natural gas fireplaces are frowned upon.
About now my guess is the folks in New Mexico and Colorado have a different point of view about open burning than they did 6 months ago.
Sparks coming up a chimney can have some major results.
Even rotary lawn mowers have been known to start major fires if things are dry enough.
Lew
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On 06/13/2012 08:02 PM, Lew Hodgett wrote:

Since the current Colorado and New Mexico fires were stated by lightning, why would any points of view on "open burning" be any different now vs six months ago?
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"Doug Winterburn" wrote:

---------------------------- Think about it.
Lew
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Looks like the governor of Colorado has isssued an executive order prohibiting open burning and fireworks.
Lew
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On 6/15/12 6:07 PM, Lew Hodgett wrote:

I don't know about open burning, but good for him on the fireworks. People around here think the 4th of July is a month long holiday. I don't mind fireworks on July 4th. But they get more than a little annoying at 2 am on July 5th.... and 6th... and June 25th.
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On 6/15/2012 7:01 PM, -MIKE- wrote:

You kids get off my lawn!! LOL ... getting older, eh Mike? :)
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On 6/15/12 8:17 PM, Swingman wrote:

Yes and no. :-) I'm talking 1, 2, 3 in the morning. Like the dogs. This year, I think I'll wait until about 5am and take a snare drum over to each house and play rimshots every 4 seconds until they come out to ask me if I'm crazy.
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You will be crazy when you end up with a bullet in the butt.
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On 6/16/12 2:27 AM, Dave wrote:

Got that right. :-)
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On 6/15/2012 8:31 PM, -MIKE- wrote:

Oh no! <Gasp> the drummer's first line of defense, the "rim shot"!
(let me know before you deploy the drummer's "nuclear option":
... the cowbell ... I'll move even further South). ;)
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On 6/16/12 7:52 AM, Swingman wrote:

I got a fevah!....."
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-MIKE-

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On 6/13/2012 10:02 PM, Lew Hodgett wrote:

Fires have been a key component in the ecosystem for millions of years and many plants and trees depend upon the heat from fires to thrive. Man wants to move into the countryside and live, he damn well better be prepared to put up with ALL the consequences of his stupidity.
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Exactly but the tree huggers don't want to hear that because many of them have built homes in the middle of the ecosystem. In the 80's the news services were talking about the "destruction" of Yellowstone and the huggers were wanting all kinds of things done to prevent future fires (???). The Yellowstone fires provided a much-needed natural defense against the beetles that were actually destroying Yellowstone's forests at the time.
These huggers are closely related to:
- People who build homes and neighborhoods under airport flight patterns and then raise hell about noise. - Californians who build homes on hillsides and want the government to do something about mudslides - People who build homes on the edge of freeways and then complain about traffic noise. - Homeowners who build in tightly regulated neighborhoods and then get mad because the HOA won't let them use the shingles they like.
RonB
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Not to worry. The Peoples Republic of Kalifornia will pass a law banning all fires. Then everything will be all better.
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Are you familiar with the socalled "pine barrens" around here? Long Island and southern coastal NJ. The pines don't spread their seeds until the cones are heated by fire. They burn like torches, but can live on after. Too bad for the homes built in, or too near, those areas. Oh, yeah, the same people want to insure their homes, built too near the sea, an/or want the Army Corps of WEngineers to build up the beaches after erosion by storms.
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No air pollution problems here, but we do try to minimize the amount of smoke by building a hot fire. I suspect a hot fire also burns a lot of the bad stuff before it gets into the air.
Hot sparks doing bad things is a concern, but their potential is minimized by building fires on days with low wind and sufficently damp ground. (It doesn't have to be soggy, just enough that the grass is happy.)
We usually don't burn just to burn, we usually cook supper over the fire. Hot dogs only taste good one way: Fire cooked. Had some skewered steak, corn, and skewered French Toast (that was interesting, but not really successful) tonight. There's still plenty of heat left over for marshmallows or popcorn.
Puckdropper
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On 6/13/2012 9:12 PM, Lew Hodgett wrote:

Leave it to a Californicator liberal to immediately take a perfectly fun topic off into the weeds with a hand wringing guilt trip. Why don't we just rename the topic to "Fire building should be outlawed" and let the flame throwing begin?
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