Wood types, etc

Ok, softwood (pine, fir, etc) or hardwood? Which is best? I would venture a guess its weight related. Also, I have SO MUCH WOOD that I could spend the spring prepping a ton of the stuff. My 2nd question is what techniques have you guys used to speed the seasoning (drying) process for your wood or do you just stack it and wait it out for a year?

So many questions, so little time…

Also, I noticed many posts, especially those with images, are broken. Kind of sad really.

Hmmm. WilliamW. since your intention is driving-on-wood, I’ve been waiting for one of the really years now experienced, wood drivers to lead with the opinions.
I’m not.
I wood-heat life long and currently with PNW woods. Currently in three different stove/chimney set up.
And I do have upwards, maybe a thousand hours woodgasing in small electrical generating woodgas systems.
So imho here goes.

#1) Use the woods you have on your own property. You’ll learn to make it work: wood-for-heat; wood-for-shaft-powers.

#2) Wood dryness will be much more important than fussing over wood species. Both wood-for-heats, and wood-for-power. The ideal is ~10-15% wood moisture by weight.

#3) The energy release rate of the woods species. And this can change with the “cut”, the part of the tree or bush. You can actually cut/split/chunk variable to speed up slow hardwoods. Slow down fast woods like Doulas Fir, Western Red Cedars.

#4) How ashy the wood is. It’s grown in underlay cells walls minerals. Low ash woods and you’ll wonder what all of the fussing is about. Use PNW river cottonwoods and you’ll find out.

Somewhere here recently someone said you were Oregon Coastal?
You goona’ find like I have nothing will beat good 'ol Douglas Fir. Regional common. Easy to work up. Has a super fast energy release rate. Dries fast, fast. Has the lowest Ashing rate of any regionally I’ve used.
Doulas Fir is mis-named. It is actually a spruce.

Ha! Ha! Let the opinions fly now.

Woodgasing for electricity stationary I’ve used the gasifier system shed-out heats and the IC engines shed-out heats to dry down inputs woods for just-in-time refueling. Designed right. Ran right, you can take fresh cut 40% moisture wood down to that 10% Ideal. Sinker retrieved wood, and years ground laying woods here gets to 60% moisture wet heavy. Just pass on these. They’ll need stacked up reducing for a year or so. Alder and some (cottonwood) will rot, fuel weight reducing doing this. Still will heat burn. Still will gasify. You will need to use 2x more.
But storing for any time, woods here PNW wet-side will air rehydrate back up in just weeks to a useable, but power losing, 20-22% moisture weight.

These are my 2 cups of coffee writing. I get better at 4 cups of coffee. Go back to chattering past that. And those I sometime do delete. Embarrassed.

Steve Unruh


William .

Below is a link for my wood chunker . After chunked and spread out on a flat trailer in a shed I can use in about a week.

Up until a few years back I used pine but have switched to using mainly oak.


Thanks! Great stuff! Love the videos! I got a '41 Ford 9N tractor with a PTO that would work perfect for this! 30hp flathead motor still kicks on the first spin of the hand crank!

There is some Oak here but not a lot. PNW wood (As Steve puts it) is Pine and Douglas Fir. I have TONS of both so I will probably stick to those. Steve likes the Douglas Fir.


Doug fir is my preference over pine for less soot and char bed clogging but that may be unique to my system. Gassifier are females, all of them and they all respond different and each species of wood will change how it runs. My favorite is Doug fir and cherry mix so far


I wait to hear what Jacob North has to say.
His woodgas touring across the Whole of America east to west; then back again trip in 2021 forced him to use many types of needs-must woods.
A testament to the wide range capability of the elements of the WK design he based his Dakota build on.
A testimony to the shear will power of this fine young man. Building and Doing.

Steve Unruh


WilliamW here are the topics covering Jacob Norths trip preparations. His woods using traveling highs and lows. And the folks he, sister Naomi, and grandpa Ken met up with.
His woods using experiences will be in here.

Two short cut tricks to skim read the become long topics is to go to the first post and at the bottom will be a Read in Summery action button. Good for a quick read through. Some of interest to you might get edited out. Later, then go back for the slow, full, read through.
The other short cut is again to go to that first topic starting post. It will show avatars icons of all participating. Click open the fellow you want to exclusively read, thumbnail avatar. His summary page brought up will have an upper r.h. corner grey colored box saying how many posts that person has contributed. Cursor hover over that and click it open. Read then all that persons posts in that topic.

Steve Unruh


Hardwoods are the best hands down. I’ve burnt pine and Doug fir they burn about the same for me. Birch is terrible and so is west coast poplar. Tulip poplar works fine. Sweet Gum burns about the same as tulip poplar. I like my kiln dried maple or Ron’s oak the best. The maple and iron wood that Tom Holton and Bruce cut for me in Michigan all burnt really well. And the mix that Rindert cur for me has to be some of the best I’ve ever burnt. I think mixing different species helps it burn better. No science on that last comment just experience.

The softwoods on hard long trips cause you to have to refuel more often and clean out ash more often. Local driving they work fine if you don’t create tar.


My personal favourite is a mix, about 60% hardwood, or mostly birch, the rest 40% mostly fir and some pine, this is what have worked best for me. Seems that hardwood makes harder charcoal in the heart, slower, more stable reactions, the fir gives softer, more “fast reacting” char, using only fir has not worked so well for me, gives a soft, unstable char-bed, prone to blocking/collapsing.


Jakob, it has to be a very different birch you tried. Birch is premium fuel here, both for heating and gasification. Denst nice char and good fuel economy per volume. A little high on tar compared to bulky alder, but not a problem.


Exactly my experience. I try to keep the spruce ratio down as much as I can. No more than 25%.