Energy- and fuel prices are rising due to the war in Ukraine. The winter here in northern Europe is about to end but there will be another one sooner than desired. In the meantime, the round wood prices in Sweden are low if you choose to sell to the normal buyers, the pulp- and sawmill industry. This has triggered a “wood rebellion” in Sweden. The prices seem to be about to go up right now, but will it be enough? Maybe the time has come to make something else with your timber? Here is yet another alternative.
Efficient firewood making
The current situation has caused many to start thinking about firewood. Firewood stoves and firewood making. But you can´t just start making piles of firewood to sell. You must find buyers and find efficient methods to produce the firewood. How do you do that?
Well, the range of methods is wide. You can start cutting with a chainsaw, splitting with an ax, and packing by hand. Or you can get yourself a firewood processor that does it all. It´s a matter of productivity and volume. You can create an industry around a firewood processor. We visited someone who did just that.
Two processors are better than one
The south Swedish contractor Marcus Augustini recently took over a firewood business located in an old nursery. The business had been going on for over 20 years and the annual production was 500 cubic meters (approx. 150 cords) of firewood, until now …
Marcus aims for 1000 cubic meters (almost 300 cords) and to achieve that he decided to get a second firewood processor. The two processors are the Swedish “Kisa Vedproffs 350” and the Finnish “HakkiPilke Easy 38”. Three persons manage the two production lines. One operator at each processor and the third feed the machines with timber and removes the firewood sacks, or baskets, when they are full. The capacity is approx. 6 cubic meters per hour on the two lines together. The firewood production is going on for about two months per year in the spring.
The firewood is dried over the summer and in the autumn, deliveries are made. By delivering the moisture ratio is about 20 percent. During the winter, the raw material, the birchwood is purchased and collected for next spring’s production.
For storage, both metal baskets and sacks are used in different sizes. The sacks contain 1,5 cubic meters and the baskets either 0,8 or 1,7 cubic meters.
Marcus’ “real” job is as a forestry contractor. He has one harvester and one forwarder that is operating for a local sawmill. That means that he works in private forests cutting timber for the sawmill. He buys standing birch wood from the forest owners and falls it with the harvester as he is at it. He pays more for the birchwood than the pulp mills, so no problems getting the volumes that he needs.
So, he buys the birchwood locally, but he also sells the firewood locally. The buyers are private house owners in the town where the firewood factory is in south Sweden. It´s mainly for small stoves and fireplaces. The price for the firewood is approx. four times the price of the birchwood even though he pays more than the pulp mills. The margin in combination with the local customers, allows him to include the delivery in the firewood price.
Here is a short film from the visit to the firewood factory:
Film and photos: Per Jonsson