Fuel in the City

Many of you know I just moved from the country into Frankfort KY, which is a big shift in many ways, but here’s one of the less obvious ones - I have to re-establish a source of fuel in a place without logging operations or room for piles of firewood. Frankfort may seem like a tough place to find any wood fuel - but here’s what I did about it.

First I noticed that our next door neighbor had a tree down in a recent storm. He was out there with a chainsaw cutting up limbs, and I offered to take some of it off his hands. He was happy to be rid of it, and I had some nice fuel - all that I needed was to slice it up on the table saw and dry it. Table saw part works OK, but slow - then I had little rounds of wet wood, which if I want to burn them anytime soon I needed to split in half. So that was time consuming. And so the first picture is the results of about 30 minutes work - barely enough to get me to Walmart and back.

So then I did what I should have done - Googled for “truss manufacturer Frankfort”, and “pallet manufacturer Frankfort”. Both these are universal enough that I felt like I had a good chance. Sure enough, it turns out there’s a pallet reconditioning place about 5 miles from me. I emailed them and asked about scraps - they said come get as many boxes as you want! “Boxes” being unclear to me, it still sounded like a good shot. So I went over there and this is what they loaded on the truck - ONE box. The size of a large pallet. I don’t think two would have fit in the truck.

They said there’s no nails in it. It’s dry and ready to burn. The wood is on the big side but I can split or saw a bit if needed. Or run slightly bigger wood than I’m used to. Anyhow, it’s not bad for free and will certainly tide me over till I get a chunker built!

Wouldn’t it be great to establish a network of sources that would allow us to travel the country. On wood. For free.

Update on the wood, seems to be mostly poplar with some red oak. A lot of too long pieces, around a foot long. I am splitting these and will buzz them in half with the table saw. Also there are some pieces with nail heads in them (cut off from the pallet), so I am sorting those out.

Carl, that’s the idea, but I don’t think free is the right word. Cheap yes, trade in kind, yes. The work I’m doing even to process this ready-to-burn wood is not considered free. But I’d gladly do it for a fellow woodgasser who came to visit. And hope for the same when I visit them. I owe WayneK and RonL about 500# each! Come and get it guys! It looks like I’ll have plenty of extra.

A $40 used 10" miter saw with a carbide blade would work well for those foot long pieces. Maybe cut some 2" pieces off at the beginning, so the average chunk size is not so big? I have been sharpening my Harbor Freight 10" blades with the side of a 7 1/2" steel cut-off blade (meant for a skil saw) mounted in my grinder. I sharpen them until I find a bunch of (more than 10) carbide teeth missing, then they go in the steel pile. The miter saw would work really nice for those tree branches you got from your neighbor. Those HF carbide blades used to cost about $7 each, now I think they cost about $12. (With a table saw, I’m afraid of losing fingers!)

So it looks like a portion of this wood is going to be unusable, at least hard to use. Any ideas on what to do with nail infested scraps? They are mostly heads and maybe 1/4" shank.

Good call on the miter saw, I have one but it has less HP than the tablesaw. So it would go even slower for me. Yes the fingers are in danger. Eventually I want to build this:

HI Chris; that is some nice looking wood, popular still makes pretty good fuel.
Ray is right about the easiest way to process pieces like those would be a miter saw or a 10" radial arm saw would make quick work chunking also.Having plenty of horsepower on a saw actually makes running a saw safer because less chance of sticking and binding in the wood.
I would prefer a radial arm saw because you wouldnt have to start the saw motor with each cut so saving energy and you wont have the sawblade hanging over your hand when picking small pieces out of the saw , but you need to know where your fingers are all the time.

OK, will give the miter saw a shot…

Nail infested wood goes in my charcoal-making wood stove, or into my charcoal retort. When I break the charcoal up (by hand, with thin work gloves) the nails are easily removed. I punch a hole in the top of aerosol cans, or canned milk cans, and drop the nails in, flatten the can/nails on the anvil, and then sell them with my scrap steel. (Wow, I must be retired!) Ron, when using the chop saw/miter saw, I cut up long branches, maybe 4’ long, and just leave the saw running. I think the starting/stopping uses more electricity, and is hard on the worm drive in the saw. Also, don’t let the blade jam a hunk of wood against the guide because that little gear gets all the force! One of my saws has a good blade, the other has a blade will missing teeth…and it is used where there might be nails or rocks. I cut mesquite, and when it is almost dark, you can see sparks. BTW, I have had some correspondence with Dr. Tom Reed regarding the lignin content of Mesquite, as it is very high. It also has way too much “phenols?” or the stuff that makes tar. Might not be a good gasifier fuel, but it makes really good charcoal, (and great BBQ flavor, when used in moderation).

OK, the miter saw works great! Cut like butter. Making me think the table saw blade is dull, which it probably is… It cut up the pallet wood so well that I realized something important - the wood is NOT dry, it is still green. It’s light because it’s poplar, but it’s not dry. So my immediate fuel supply is now very low… but there’s a lot coming soon.

I have a few junk boards I can cut up. But only for demonstration purposes, not enough to run far. I have two different visitors wanting to see the truck in action this week.

Progress ended for today… I’m about halfway through the box, and I think I’ve got all the big pieces out. Mostly little nail filled scraps left. Pile on left is finished and ready for drying. On right are approx. 4" cubes.

do you have a lot of mesquite where you live?
in wva we have a lot of hard woods but locust is my favorite for my gasifier boiler but i don’t know how it will work in a truck super hard
I need to email tom reed i knew him well when i was in denver
i used to build camp stoves his design they worked really well i last saw him in detroit in 2005 had breakfast with him at a conference VERY smart fellow
I’m trying to build a small WK gasifier for my tractor 9" fire tube Not sure how it will work but i hope to find out soon
Good luck

I use a 14 inch band saw with a 3/4 hp motor. The blade is 4 teeth to the inch and 3/4 wide. I can cut 200 pounds of wood in an hour or so. If I put a 2 hp motor on the saw I can gang up pieces of wood and cut twice as fast. The saw is quiet and fairly safe since the blade has minimal exposure. I put a 12 volt blower fan on the saw to suck the saw dust into a bucket and that works pretty good since I do all this in my garage. I store my lumber in whole pieces and if I want to go for a ride for about 40 or 50 miles I cut up a couple boxes in about 10 minutes and off I go. Drove back from Jacksonville yesterday on one hopper full of wood that carried me 70 miles on I 95. I was able to hold 65 mph all the way with the AC on. I just got in the right lane behind a semi truck and drafted all the way home. Had to stir the pot once so I pulled off at an exit and into the gas station. Stirred it up and left a bunch of smoke in the parking lot. Burn baby burn.


The design of the saw in the video looks like it has infinite possibilities. Do you have any other information on that machine?



That video is all I can find. The machine is made in India by AEW Gasifiers. http://aewgasifiers.com although their website has been down lately. The machine apparently costs $4500. Looks simple enough to make though, you just need some heavy duty bearings and thick steel plate, pulleys and belt and a 13 HP motor to drive it. And some sawblades!!

i saw one of those or something like it in montanna they just used it to chop limbs and them land filled them.
I think i might make a chunker like Waynes I have truck junk lying around I would like to use a 1 ton rear end so i could move it easier i hope it will be heavy enough
if i can find any info on the one i saw i will post it
good luck


Looks like the only down side is saw dust & saw blade servicing.

Hi all, i have a mobile cropper built on top of my trailer so i crop into the trailer. The trailer has the exhaust gas from my truck passed under the cut fuel to help dry the stuff out. It seems to work well and although i broke the first main shaft in my cropper, the new one is somewhat thicker and im more careful of just bunging any old thing in it. It works well with 1 1/2"- 2" fallen wood from local forests. As an idea for fuel, have you tried your local recycling sites…ours has a high sided trailer that locals dump all their busted beds, knackered fencing, cut trees/limbs in and the site has to pay to dispose of this waste. I have contacted my local site and found favour with the area manager…some advertising on the front of my truck for all the wood i want from the site. ( im not sure about varnished or tanilised woods going through the gasifier for my truck engine but may be ok in a static genset set up

I found a place that uses these funky wood pallets that look like the are like a flattened “pressed-o-log”/cast OSB board. I don’t think they are glued together. I snapped some pictures with my phone. Would these be usable as fuel or should I avoid them?

Ick. From what I’ve experienced with those they are really made from pressed paper and will dissolve when wet. The reason they didn’t need glue is because paper will clump up when wet. As it will in your gasifier. Also most papers have a high clay percentage for smoothness. Meaning a lot of ash.

Might be able to run a little of that with a lot of wood. But I wouldn’t use it alone.

Those were out in the rain and didn’t melt, nor are they made from paper (at least the ones I saw). Its a very course saw-dust/wood chip mixture as far as I can tell. Look at the close-up of the hole that got torn in it.