Buzz Saw - for serious firewood cutting
For the last two days, I used my buzz saw to cut firewood, so I'm inspired to write about it. It's a serious machine for those of us who are committed to heating with wood.
Every saw has an application. The best approach to cutting firewood is to find the saw that is right for the type of wood you need to cut.
If you have poles, logs or long dimensional lumber, a buzz saw is a great way to cut it fast. It's about five times faster than a chain saw.
Of course, it's much more expensive too. In order to make it cost-effective, you have to heat your home with wood and have plenty of long wood that requires cutting. I'm committed to wood heat and I have plenty of long wood that needs cutting, so I own a buzz saw to help me get the job done each year.
My saw is a home built piece of equipment that is trailer mounted. It's a reclaimed 4 cylinder motor-driven compressor that was converted to a wood saw.
The motor drives a shaft that inputs to a right angle drive that was robbed off of an old combine. The right angle output shaft runs out to a pillow block bearing on the frame and then to a pulley. The pulley drives another pulley mounted to a parallel shaft.
The parallel shaft is mounted to the frame on each end with pillow block bearings. The end of the parallel shaft that is opposite the pulley is where the saw blade is attached. The shaft will accept a 26 to 30 inch saw blade, so it can easily cut wood that is 10 to 12 inches in diameter.
There is a spring-loaded sliding rack that allows wood to be held stationary as it is slid into the path of the spinning saw blade. Rollers on the rack allow the operator to easily slide heavy timber out over the path of the saw before sliding it through the spinning blade.
For stability, the buzz saw is best mounted on a trailer hitch that is held in place with a truck or other piece of heavy equipment. This prevents the saw from tipping up or down as wood is loaded onto the sliding rack.
Using a buzz saw is a potentially dangerous activity. This is especially true of a homemade unit like I have. There are no automatic safety features on the saw. There is nothing to prevent you from cutting yourself with the spinning blade.
Your safety rests entirely in your own hands.
A friend of mine tells me a story about a man here in Wyoming that was killed when he tripped over something on the ground and fell into the spinning blade of a buzz saw he was using.
The saw doesn't care whether it's cutting wood or bone, so anything moving into it's path will be cut to bits in an instant. The sharp edges of the saw combined with the momentum of the spinning blade allow it to cut right through spikes that are embedded in the wood.
You can imagine how unforgiving it will be in the event of accidental contact with the blade.
If you own or operate such a piece of equipment, or even if you simply help others, let me give you a few words of advice for safety:
- Make certain the saw is in proper working order before using it.
- Cut wood with a helper if possible. They can assist with getting you wood, clearing the wood pile away from the blade and watching for unsafe conditions.
- Never let anyone stand lined up with the blade. A small chunk of wood could be thrown if it spins around inside of the blade guard and then exits.
- Establish a routine for cutting that is safe, and stick with it. If you vary it, you run the risk of doing something new that might put you in danger.
- Clearing wood away from the saw blade should only be done with a long stick, wooden pole or piece of lumber. Something 6 feet long or longer is recommended to keep you plenty far away from the spinning blade.
- Never get anywhere near the blade or drive mechanism unless the saw is turned off and the blade is motionless.
- If you take a break from cutting, shut off the saw.
- Never move the saw unless it's turned off.
- Keep kids and others far away when you're cutting.
- Stop cutting if you're tired.
- Keep the area around your feet clear of trip hazards. This means cut wood, wood that is yet to be cut, and uneven ground that may cause you to lose your footing.
- Wear hearing protection and eye protection, and a dust mask as well.
- Shut down the saw if you suspect any type of malfunction while you're using it. Restart only after you're satisfied that it's in proper working order.
When I use my buzz saw, I can cut an entire season of firewood in about 4 one to two hour sessions. I space out the wood cutting sessions over a few days so I don't get overly tired. This also allows me time to gather up the cut wood and position more wood to be cut.
My approach to frugal living has me cutting wood with a buzz saw for efficiency, but I'm all about safety when it comes to using such potentially dangerous equipment. In my view, the best part of frugal living is the living part, and that means safe and healthy living.
Done with Buzz Saw, back to Heating with Wood