Hi Joe, I have a cherry orchard next door to me. Hard wood fruit trees is another over looked wood. I get as much of this wood as I want from the yearly prunings, from the big branches, to the smaller ones all for free. It is great for making Charcoal if you live close to a orchard in your area.
Hi Joe, Welcome. Another vote for the dark side, I’m afraid. And here is a tip IF you live in a place where a lot of commercial tree trimming is going on. Around here, these guys are looking places to dump their wood chips. They gladly bring them to me free of charge. I screen them between 1 inch and 3/8 inch screens and dry them before converting them to engine grade charcoal in a giant TLUD. No cutting, no gathering, no hauling, no grinding and chips dry quicker than sticks. Bruce
You just gotta love this kind of free stuff. Bruce what do you do with all the screen out smaller chips? Gardening mulching?
Yes, garden mulch extraordinaire.
Yea, really love the free stuff. Thank for the suggestions.
I can get birch and maple pretty easy. I can also get alder. I’m thinking these would make good coal. Any experience with these hard woods?
BTW, I’m in northern Minnesota. Lots of logging and fire wood production around here. I also have a small saw mill so I have lots of mill slashing. Joe
I would not worry too much about species. All wood can be converted to usable charcoal. Im not bias I use anything I can get my hands on; beggers must not be choosers.
Ha Ha, right on Matt. I’m a begger for sure.
Hi Joe, you came to the right place. With all the help you alredy got there isnt much to add except to confirm everything others sayd.
Steve beat me to it. Conifers wood makes problematic charcoal. Low density, spongy dusty stuff… but, this sayd, the limbs of conifers make premium char! How you described your situation sounds like you wuld have plenty of that.
I wuld first try making charcoal. A lot of beginers make their first gasifier then get unpatient and skip the incredibly important step of propper fuel preparation.
There are a lot of different styles of simple charcoal kilns, if your wood is dry and uniform in size, a TLUD made out of a oil drum is a good way to go. How l started. Each batch produces about 15 pounds of charcoal.
If you got a supply of twigs and branches, the tilt barrel or Giorgios bathtub method is hard to beat. Also, twig charcoal requires minimal preparation after its done.
Great advice from Kristijan. Lots of simple ways to make good engine grade charcoal (eg. bathtub and tilt barrel). Find one of the methods here on DOW that fits your feed stock, environment and your personality. Making charcoal can be a lot of fun! Several environmental groups argue that charcoal can help save the planet. Look up Biochar, if that flips your switch.
Good reminder on the TLUD, “if your wood is dry and uniform size.” TLUD stands for Top Lit Up Draft, made famous as an energy efficient gasifier cook stove. But TLUD could also mean Totally Loves Uniform Dimensions, whether chips, chunks or sticks. If using sticks of uniform diameter in a TLUD stand them up vertically to allow an even progression of the pyrolytic front. Adding a small blower to the bottom of a TLUD is the secret sauce for high performance. For processing large, random size feedstock consider a curtain kiln. A fan blowing downward at a slight angle through a manifold with long thin nozzles creates a blade or curtain of air. Smoke free operation, but intense heat requiring protective gear while feeding.
Thanks Kristijan and Bruce. More great advice. I love this forum already. I’m definitely going to start making fuel first. I gotta clear about three other jobs out of the shop then I’ll start on fuel production. I have a couple large piles of conifer limbs piled up from last fall. Covered in snow now but spring is coming.
That is similar to what wayne keith runs in his truck. Honestly I would recommend getting his book. He mostly uses oak because that is what he mills. Charcoal systems are easier then wood but they have a number of similarities. There is something to be said about just getting the knowledge in one place then using that as a starting place rather then trying to pick and pluck various information off the net.
As far as density goes, I believe it is alder, maple, then birch. But hard maple would be better then soft/silver maples.
What Matt said is right on, you have to figure out what your source of wood is going to be and how you can handle it and what the end use it. It isn’t one size fits all, it is what you have to work with, as far as wood, tools and skills and just making it work for you. But as always, more knowledge makes it easier.
You’re right on Sean. I’m reading up on charcoal mfg now and hope to be deep into it by months end. I have a few projects in the shop that need to move through before I can start something new. Thanks for the advice from Mid Michigan. I have a lot of kin in that area.
Kind regards, Joe
Great to hear of another MN resident on DOW. Looking forward to hearing of your progress!
I built a WK gassifier last year. Lost the head gasket last fall before getting to put any real miles on it and havent had time fix it yet. But like you said, spring is comeing!
How far north are you, Im located a bit west of Brainerd and @BillSchiller is way up north off grid.
Nice to know there are other folks in the state interested in wood gas.
Welcome to DOW.
Yeah, wood chipper wouldn’t be my first choice.
I like that quote from, i belive the astronaut farmer when the tax man comes around. Was something about knowing how hard it is to find a body on 1200 Acres.
I’m north east of Duluth. Closest map dot is Isabella. Glad to meet ya! Joe
Oh yeah, your up in Schiller’s neck of the woods. He’s probably in the woods tapping trees right now.