I went to the Sumac patch and broke off a branch to check the condition of this scraggly died last fall specimen.
To my surprise the wood looked very good, so I looked at the lower trunk.
I cut off the roots and this 8' piece of the trunk.
I cut a bunch of 8 1/2" chunks. My retort is 17 1/2" long and will be loaded with two courses of 8 1/2" bundles of sticks. I'll take pictures of the loading this time.
I split them into 1" to 1 1/2" thick sticks. Note how straight the grain is. It splits easily.
I'll let these dry in the shop for a while before I cook them. Meanwhile, I'll play with the softwood (Spruce, I think) charcoal. I found a very fine screen strainer and I'm aiming to reduce the whole bowl of charcoal to fine powder very soon. Then I'll try some burn tests on the mix. I'm also going to try a mix using char from my cyclone. It should be interesting. Stay tuned.
Edit 5/7/17 Don't bother using cyclone char, it barely burns in the mix, fizzle, sizzle, sputter!