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Fire Wood Tips To Keep You Warm All Winter Long

 

With a chilly winter well and truly underway, it’s important you’re across everything there is to know about collecting firewood in your local area and how to maintain your tools throughout the season.  This winter, we took some time out with professional woodchopper and one of our STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® athletes, Brad De Losa to find out his top tips for gathering firewood, and how to chop it safely throughout the season.

KNOW THE RULES

Rules in different states, and even within states, vary widely. Make sure you check in with your State or Territory’s forestry authority to make sure you’re collecting firewood safely and legally.

UNDERSTAND THE WOOD NEEDED

Once you’re across your local requirements, seek advice on what to look for when you’re gathering wood for your own fire as different forests contain distinct types of wood. When you’re ready to start collecting, keep an eye out on the bush floor and any dead or dry branches for burning.

USE THE CHAINSAW THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU

Make sure you have the right chainsaw for you and the job. Two examples are the MS 170 MiniBoss for homeowners or the new MS 661 C-M Magnum for the big jobs. Seek advice from your local STIHL Specialists if you’re not sure.

LOOK AFTER YOUR CHAINSAW

It’s important to get your chainsaw serviced at least once a year, before you commence any project such as wood chopping. This ensures the saw is in safe working order. You can get any chainsaw checked and serviced at any of our local STIHL Specialists.

OTHER TIPS

  • Always wear protective gear when you chop wood.
  • Clear your workspace of other branches or debris.
  • Always start your chainsaw on the ground, after checking your chain tension and chain break.
  • Mark your collected branches to the length of your fireplace and use your chainsaw to cut them into manageable logs.
  • Split the logs with an axe by aiming for the grain of the wood and cracks or imperfections.
  • Never swing the axe over one shoulder. Always swing overhead and use your body weight to bring it down onto the log with precision.
  • If there are any cracks in your axe handle do not use it as the head could come loose and cause an injury. The STIHL Splitting Axe with fiberglass-reinforced polyamide handle will not separate from the head of the axe.
  • Stack your wood to promote airflow, so the wood is dry and ready for your fireplace.
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HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN WOODEN REINDEER!

Create a unique Christmas ornament for your garden with the kids, or impress your guests with some cute table toppers on the big day. Follow these easy-to-follow steps to create your own wooden reindeer in nine simple steps:

STEP 1: PREPARE YOUR WOOD & TOOLS

The reindeer’s body can be made with any kind of hardwood, and the legs and neck can be made from larger branches from the ground. For the antlers, choose forked, thin branches to create a lifelike look.

Materials Checklist:

TIP: While glue can be used to make your reindeer more stable, it does not dry easily on damp wood, so we recommend using dry wood if you wish to use glue. If you only have access to damp wood, put the reindeer together first and glue the parts in place once the wood has dried.

STEP 2: PREPARE THE BODY SECTION

For a larger reindeer, place the 20cm log on your sawhorse or workbench, and measure a length of approximately 60 cm. Mark this length using your chainsaw or a suitable marker, such as chalk.

Position the trunk and fix it in place so that the shorter end from the mark extends over the edge of the workbench. Using your chainsaw, cut approximately two thirds of the way, then turn the trunk over so you can make the final cut from above. Be careful not to cut the full way through, as the piece being removed may break off early and splinter.

STEP 3: MAKE HOLES FOR THE LEGS & HEAD

Once you have your body section complete, place your log evenly on your sawhorse or workbench. Using a drill, make four holes in the log for the leg pieces. As a guide, these should be approximately 45 degrees from the centre of the log and 5cm deep.  Once you’ve done all four, turn the log over and drill a 5cm hole for the head. This should be on a very slight angle, but straight enough to support the weight of the head.

TIP: When choosing a drill bit, use the diameter of your leg and neck pieces as a guide, and select a bit that has is slightly smaller.

STEP 4: PREPARE THE LEGS & NECK

Using your 5cm branches, prepare the leg pieces by cutting them to approximately 40cm in length, and another 20cm length piece for the neck. A smaller battery or petrol chainsaw is suitable for a branch of this size.

STEP 5: TAPER THE LEGS & NECK

Use a vice to clamp the branches in place so they don’t move around, and taper one end of each of the legs and both ends of the neck piece. Don’t make the ends too sharply pointed, and be sure to you test them for fit against the relevant holes to make sure they’re snug.

STEP 6: MOUNT THE REINDEER BODY

If you’re using dry wood, apply some glue straight into the four drilled holes and use a hammer to gently tap the legs into the body. Once the glue has dried and the legs are in place, stand it up, and repeat the same process for the neck piece.  If your wood is still damp, assemble the parts without the glue, and add glue later one the wood has dried.

STEP 7: PREPARE THE HEAD PIECE

Please your 10-12cm log onto your sawhorse or workbench, and mark a length of approximately 25cm. As we did with the body, cut approximately two thirds of the way through, then turn the trunk over so you can make the final cut from above.

STEP 8: DRILL HOLES FOR HEAD & ANTLERS

Drill a straight hole for the neck in the lower side of the head section so your reindeer holds its head at a natural angle. Turn the log over, and drill two holes using a smaller drill bit for the antlers. These should be angled slightly towards the center of the log.

STEP 9: CREATE & MOUNT THE ANTLERS

Use your pruning shears to remove any unwanted leaves and smaller twigs from your antler pieces, then taper the lower point of each brand using your angle grinder.

Once done, attached the head to the neck piece, and the antlers to the head.

And you’re done!

Don’t forget to upload to a picture to your socials when you’re done and tag @hobdenssmallengines for Instagram & Facebook.

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Composting : turn your green waste into nature’s gold

Tending the garden keeps on producing quantities of plant debris that take up space. What’s the best thing to do with garden refuse like grass cuttings, tree and hedge trimmings, leaves and withered flowers?

Green recycling.

Using a garden shredder will help tidy up your garden. Unwieldy branches and bushy twigs are quickly chopped up into easy-to-handle plant residue which you can simply dispose of or re-use as a compost base.

The intelligent solution.

The cuttings can be used to make environmentally friendly compost. The composted shreddings can be recycled as a valuable natural fertilizer. Turn your garden waste into home-made fertilizer. Mulch and compost contain a number of valuable raw materials that supply your garden soil with important nutrients in a totally natural way.

Ten rules for good compost

  • Gather the correct proportions of nitrogenous (‘green’) and carbonaceous (‘brown’) plant trimmings – mixing lawn clippings with woody cuttings for example.
  • Remember compost needs air. Never lay the material in a trench and do not use containers which are closed on all sides.
  • Do not place the compost heap on a solid base made of stone, concrete, etc. The compost needs an ‘earth connection’, so that earthworms and small organisms can penetrate it.
  • Earthworms are beneficial to your compost heap and are attracted by phlox and elder for example. Onion skins, chive residues, ground coffee and tea leaves are also favourite foods for earthworms.
  • Create order in your compost heap.  For the bottom layer, pile up coarse shredded material – approximately 20cm high. On top of this add mixed, finer materials such as leaves or shredded material.
  • Thinly spread lawn clippings – to prevent the danger of decay!
  • Always cover kitchen waste with soil, as it attracts vermin.
  • Avoid totally dry conditions as micro-organisms in compost heaps need moisture.
  • Do not water the compost excessively.
  • Cover up the finished compost heap.

The composting process takes several months, depending on the time of year and the ambient temperature. When the compost has matured it should smell pleasantly of forest soil and fungus.

Tip : If you put shredded waste on a compost heap, subsequent turning over is no longer required.

Tip : Passing waste material repeatedly through your garden shredder provides optimal mixing and aeration. Shredding waste before placing it on the compost heap speeds up decomposition as it increases the surface area open to attack by microbes and decomposition agents.

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TIPS TO GET YOUR LAWN AND GARDEN INTO SHAPE THIS SPRING, Part #2

HEDGES

For a solid, rectangular or square style hedge, it’s best to trim several times a year from Spring through to Autumn.

To keep the top level of your hedge, place a line of string just above the hedge as a guide for a straighter cut. A STIHL hedge trimmer will make the job easier for you and get a better, quicker result than with a pair of shears.

If your hedge is overgrown, then start in early spring by pruning the side growth back almost all the way back to the main stem on one side only. Repeat on the other side the following spring (you might even be able to do it in late summer if the pruned side has regrown sufficiently).

STIHL has a complete line-up of hedge trimmers, from a 4″ shrub shear to a long extended version. Pick Your Power, gas or battery!

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TIPS TO GET YOUR LAWN AND GARDEN INTO SHAPE THIS SPRING, Part#1

LAWNS

For a better, vibrant lawn this spring and summer, treat it to a regular feeding and watering. Apply a high nitrogen slow release fertilizer. Some fertilizers need only be reapplied between 6 to 12 weeks. For a thicker, healthier lawn, mow it as regularly as once a week – it also means it will generally need less water and less fertilizer – less time maintaining, more time enjoying.

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