In my neighborhood there is something of an obsession with outdoor fires pretty much year round. People may think it odd, but I have seen outdoor fires roaring in January at Super Bowl parties. It is primeval, instinctual, and just a good excuse to sit around drinking a few cold beers.
The problem is that I also happen to live in a neighborhood where the largest trees are fifteen feet tall and less than a decade old. So, there is not a ready supply of firewood just dropping out of the sky. This is a major league departure from my first house where seventy year old white pine trees were being dropped by tree services all over the neighborhood and a tornado one year left everyone with firewood for a lifetime. I do miss the Zen experience of splitting firewood on a crisp fall weekend. It is the best workout.
Somewhere along the line I came across this little contraption:
It is a paper log maker. Variations of the design and concept exist across the internet. I picked this particular model up for ~$30 online and it has been sitting in my garage for about six months.
We have been cleaning out our house of stuff that we do not need or use anymore, which means that there has been a tremendous amount of paper stacking up. A quick trip through the shredder left me with a fairly large waste bin full of paper shavings. In order to make the logs effectively you need to allow them to soak in water for a period of time:
There is no rule of thumb or generally accepted time period that I could find—damn you internet—so I went with five days for the first few logs. The process is simple enough. Take heaping handfuls of soggy shredded paper, place into the paper log maker until full, compress with body weight using two handles, and remove to be dried.
In less than fifteen minutes of work I had a set of logs:
The next step is to wait a long time. Even though you squeeze a lot of water out with the paper log maker these things are surprisingly still quite wet to the touch and I can only imagine how much moisture is contained within. My goal is to allow them to sit all winter for use in the spring when the outdoor fire season really heats up.
Until then I am going to have to rely on failed woodworking projects to feed my chiminea.