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Wood chunker build, anyone?

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So I'm pondering whether or not to get or build a wood chunker.It's a machine for chunking wood into pieces a bit larger than say, a chipper, and a nice size for charcoal in a forge.

Youtube has some terrifying DIY hunkers made with the rim of a car cut out with a hook in it that spins slowly around and lops of chunks of wood from a limb---tree or person. Looks like it works but all I can see is the spurting of blood. A company in Poland makes a chunker that autofeeds that's sold in the US by Exeterra, the same company that sells the Exeter retort. 

I'm going to have to look extra hard under the couch cushions for any pennies to buy that wood chunker but in the mean time, has anyone built or operated one? In one of the other threads someone mentioned how much of a pain cutting the wood for the retort is and I read that and thought, "Ya know, it really is a pain in the conjunction," so I looked around for some options. But since I am not made of money---which is good because I'd be highly flammable---I can't afford to buy one of those Red Dragon chunkers.

So I thought I'd ask if anyone here has built a chunker for charcoal and if so, what was it like? Hard to build? Terrifying to operate? Brought out on Halloween to teach all the young'uns a lesson in true fear? Rusting out on the back forty? De-constructed?

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That sounds a lot like a stump grinder.  Couple wheels with big teeth you roll over to a stump and lower the front end with the scary parts over the stump and let the magic happen.

Pnut

If you use 2x4s you can line a bunch up and run a circular saw across them. Pretty easy.

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What type wood is available to you, what size wood do you want to produce, and how much do you need to process?

Lumber is rather easy with a table saw or circular saw. Lay it on a table with the proper length set, and zip right through it. 

A saw buck, and a chain saw can process a LOT of tree wood in short order.  Fill the saw buck and one pass can cut multiple pieces of wood.  

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I forgot about using a buck. Yep you can cut a lot of tree up using one. If you drive two lines of poles in the ground you can stack wood in between them and cut it pretty quickly with a chainsaw but they have to be fairly straight limbs to fit between the two rows. Different than a buck but same kind of thing. 

Good thing about using a buck and chainsaw is you can cut on the down and up stroke. Makes quick work of a log.

Pnut

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You can load up a saw buck with long wood and cut on both ends to keep it balanced. Makes short work of bucking wood, even in long lengths.

Your method of two lines of poles works well IF you keep the spacing between the poles to the length of the saw blade. You can slice through a 6 foot tall stack of wood in one pass, move over and make another slice, etc.

Another method is to put 3-4 logs on the ground as rails, then lay the rest of the logs perpendicular to the rails and on top of the rails. This allows you to make one long cut for all the wood (stacked no deeper then the length of the saw blade) and not dig the chain saw into the ground.  

While we are discussing things, always cut (process) the wood as close to where it is to be stacked as possible. Less carrying that way. Same is true with splitting the wood, the closer you split the round to where the stuff is to be stacked, the less distance you have to carry the stuff.

The big problem with both methods is keeping the drops cleaned up so you have safe footing.

The bucking methods described above can be done by one fellow working alone. With two fellows working, the cutter can outrun the stacker.

Here anything 3 fingers wide (or more) is considered firewood. We load it into the pickup bed as one long piece, then cut it 2 feet past the end of the down tailgate (about 10 feet in length total). Loads fast, easy to load, and fast to trip back to the house.  Fast to unload as you handle one piece of wood 10 feet long, not 7 or 8 pieces of bucked wood from the same 10 foot length.  

When you are loading rounds into the truck, leave the rounds as large a diameter as you can manage. For smaller diameters cut the rounds in double length. The idea is to get the wood back home where it can be processed anytime, including after the weather turns cold.

 

The rest of the tree is junk or kindling, and can be cut with a hatchet or ax on top of a wood round, but it gets labor intensive for the amount of wood you get.

 

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Those are all very good suggestions. They fall under one of my grannys favorite things to tell me when I was a kid. Work smarter not harder. 

It only takes setting up a cutting or splitting Job too far away from where it's going to be stacked once to learn that lesson the hard way

Pnut

 

Edited by pnut

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I know how to cut, limb, split, and stack---got lots of practice from heating the house with wood for twenty years.

Most of the wood we get from our property, which is what I do for my current charcoal process. I use deadfalls, windfalls, and any other trees I take down that I don't have another use for. We also have big leaf maple that sucker and as soon as they get to a certain size, I trim them. With all this, some goes for greenwood carving and turning, some to the chipper, some for firewood. I also have material from pruning, especially the 200# of dry bamboo I've been macheting up to throw into the charcoal retort when the weather cools. Anything useful from the woodshop may go into the charcoal feed bin, but mostly I'd use what's coming from the woodlots.

Last week I helped my neighbor with some small alders he had taken down. He rigged up a really neat tool on the front of the tractor that held one end of the tree perpendicular to the bucket so we could chainsaw from one end all the way to where it was being held. He also built a spring-powered splitter, which works pretty well once you get the rhythm of it, and we had it all stacked in less than two hours. Definitely faster than my peavey, sawbuck, and splitting maul routine, though my way is a lot quieter, esp. since I got a battery-powered chainsaw. My neighbor uses a Stihl I gave him a few years ago that's a great saw but dang, it is loud. The battery-powered saw runs for a good 40 minutes before needing another battery, it's better balanced than the Stihl, and lighter but not in a flying-around-out-of-control way.

So, no one's used a chunker? Bummer. The mechanism looks very much like a huge Vermeer chipper I once used, though the Vermeer would leave tiny little chips. It had two teethed wheels running in parallel. I have a manual sugar cane crusher that has a similar set up. Huh. Maybe I'll have to build one of the chunker things.

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Ohio , not used one myself , am looking into these types of units myself for producing wood " chunks " for charcoal production myself ( Using a " Hookway "  

style retort but with waste cooking oil burner as a  supply for my  heat source )  .

There is a poster on YouTube " Made in Poland " who has 2 vids on a " Branch Logger " build he made ( 1 with build plans ) .

Sorry not much more of a help , but is a starting point for you anyway .

Dale Russell

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I do not trust those machines, at all.
cause if...if they get you...oh youre going
if you have a way to make it so you got a chance to escape or go unharmed if the worst should ever happen, that would make me very happy. 
otherwise the thought of someone using them makes me just shudder. I think its the way they just crunch, crush and snap logs...
 

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52 minutes ago, Dale Russell said:

There is a poster on YouTube " Made in Poland " who has 2 vids on a " Branch Logger " build he made ( 1 with build plans ) .

Hey, Dale Russell, I use a Hookway-style retort, too. I call it, "Burnie." I use wood to get the rocket stove to temperature and then the pyrolization happens. It is awesome. I had to take Burnie apart but will have him back together and re-wrapped in October to get to charcoaling. Funny, two days ago I used a cheap tiny chipper to chip the charcoal into smaller bits to inoculate and use in the gardens---making biochar. I wore what I most charitably call my clown pants, a Windows 98 t-shirt with gross stains on it and a respirator because it was DUSTY. But it took like fifteen minutes to get wee tiny bits of charcoal for the biochar-making. (The respirator was necessary. The clown pants may or may not make it through the wash. The t-shirt is getting set on fire---I'm not saying I'll set it on fire, though I admit I will be more or less in the vicinity when it happens, because that t-shirt is disgusting, even when clean.)

Also, when I took a shower, my forearms were dusty and I kinda got gently exfoliated. Srsly, my skin feels smooth and clean. From now on when people ask me what I'm doing I'll say, "My beauty regimen."

The cruncher I was looking at was this one. There are some others though...J.Leon_Szesny, yeah, they are terrifying. I mean, like this dude or this one. I wear PPE when using chippers because going to the ER just isn't as fun as it used to be.

I need a cocktail to get my heart rate down. I admire the ingenuity and the courage in building and using one of those crazy things, but no. Just no.

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