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How To Store Firewood This Winter…

Keeping your logs in the best possible condition will give you maximum heat through the winter and protect your fireplace from damage. The perfect burn starts with how you store your firewood, to make sure they free from mold and moisture before you use them. Follow our guide for a warm, long lasting burn all season long.

1. location, location, location 

Make a plan as to where you are going to store your firewood before you get cutting. For convenience, near your front door is the most obvious choice to avoid long treks through your garden late at night, especially if it is pouring with rain. If you are lacking space near your front door, consider a smaller storage pile inside, which can be topped up with logs from a larger pile kept elsewhere. Just remember to top it up regularly!

Avoid storing your wood up against other wood, such as weatherboards and fences, as this can lead to a nasty termite problem! Free standing or against concrete or bricks is the safest option. Lastly and most importantly, wood should always be stored undercover and as a far away from potential exposure to moisture as possible.

2. size is everything 

Bigger is not always better when it comes to firewood. Larger logs hold on to moisture and take twice as long to dry out. Wood harboring moisture will produce a lot of soot and smoke, and can cause damage to your fireplace. As a guide, if it is too big to hold in one hand, then it is too big for burning. 6-8 inches in diameter is a good guide to follow.

When it comes to length, there are two things to consider; the size of your fireplace, and the size of the area you are going to store it. Measure both of these areas before you get cutting to save you doing the same job twice.

3. keep it under wraps 

If you are struggling to find a space big enough to house all of your firewood, a waterproof sheet to cover your pile will do the trick. Before you do this, however, make sure the base of your woodpile is suitable. If the logs at the bottom of your stack are sitting on soil, they will never dry out, no matter how little rain you have. A layer of bricks or a wooden base to hoist them up off the ground will solve this problem.

Your logs also need sufficient airflow to facilitate the drying process. They will never be ready for burning if they are packed tightly up against each other or hard up against a wall. The better the airflow, the quicker the drying process and the better the burn. If you are going down the path of using a waterproof sheet or tarp, make sure the sides are left uncovered to allow air to flow through the logs.

4. use your senses 

Without physically seeing the inside of your logs of wood, it is almost impossible to be certain that it’s ready for burning. Provided the conditions are right, wood can take anywhere from six to 24 months to dry out completely.

Using dead limbs and fallen branches where possible will reduce dry time significantly, so if you are new to burning wood as a source of heat for your home or are simply unprepared, have a scout around the backyard to see what you can find.

How to tell if your logs are ready for burning:

  • Once your wood is ‘dead’, like anything, it will lose its color. If it is faded, it is most likely ready to go.
  • If your wood feels soft, it will still be green inside. Wood becomes very hard once it’s lost all of its moisture.
  • When stacking, keep an ear out for the sound your logs make when chucked on top of one another. Dry wood will sound hollow, whereas wet wood will make a heavy thud sound.
  • Feel the weight of your wood; if it is heavy, it is harboring moisture. If it is nice and light, it is dry.
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Transform your great outdoors this long weekend!

Long weekends are the perfect opportunity for a big tidy up, especially if you’ve been putting it off for a while. If you have experienced lots of rain over the last few weeks or months, it is likely that mud and soil stains have covered your patios, driveways and retaining walls. If you have not been so lucky, Autumn leaf litter and debris are likely to have taken over by now.

The first step to a tidy outdoor area is to get rid of all the loose debris from your deck, driveway, pathways or veranda. The STIHL range boasts a number of hand held and backpack blowers for outdoor areas of all sizes, so be sure you speak to your local STIHL Dealer to find one that is right for you. A quick and easy way to get rid of organic litter and debris is to blow them on to your lawn, and collect them up with a quick lap of the lawn mower later on. However, if you have a large amount of buildup, pop it through your shredder and add it to the compost bin. If you want to eliminate a step all together, a STIHL vacuum shredder will collect and mulch your leaves in no time. See our post on creating the perfect compost in five simple steps.

Once your outdoor area is free of leaves and debris, remove mud, dirt, cobwebs and stains from your hard surfaces with a high-pressure cleaner. Focus on high traffic areas and near your pots plants, as well as areas under trees that cause a lot of mess. Tree’s that produce sap can be really hard on decks, siding, patios & outdoor furniture. You can always use a STIHL power washer to get rid of the dirt and debris from your yard. Also most models come with a detergent dispenser as well for any type of detergent you may need. Ask us if you have any questions on what detergents you can use, or check your owners manual.

Natural stone such as bluestone and sandstone will also benefit from a clean once a year, and by doing this, you will expose the unique original markings of the stone. Clean away the dirt and mud build-up to reveal the shades of yellow, white and orange of the sandstone and the darker tones in the bluestone. You can also use the high-pressure cleaner on slate or stack-stone. Ensure you wear eye and ear protection while doing this – rubber boots are also very handy!

Painted and rendered brick walls may attract algae during the fall & spring, or general markings from wear and tear. Give them a clean and have them looking slick again to lift the look of your outdoor space and bring back the solid color blocking that they were designed to provide. A freshly cleaned rendered wall contrasts beautifully to a healthy green lawn or garden bed.

A long weekend if also a good time to oil your deck. This is something that should be done annually to protect it from all of the different weather conditions experienced throughout the year. The STIHL patio and deck cleaning attachments are compatible with all models in the range, and are great for this kind of heavy duty cleaning to prepare your deck beforehand. Give your pots and water features a clean while you are at it. A freshly cleaned and oiled deck is an easy, yet effective way to transform an outdoor space.

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Keep your hands out of the gutter!

In Autumn when leaf activity is at its peak, your gutters can become host to a mound of unwanted leaves and twigs if they are not cleared regularly. A build-up of debris can disrupt the flow of precipitation and can potentially cause damage to the foundation of your home and your roof, so it is important to stay in top of this, particularly as we head into to cooler and wetter months of the year.

Manually removing leaves and debris by hand is the most common way of keeping your gutters clear throughout the year, however while this is an effective method, it can also be quite tedious and tiresome if you have a number of gutters to maintain. Working from the top of a ladder also poses the risk of injury to you, and the risk of damage to your gutters while resting your ladder against them, particularly if they are old.

STIHL have a number of different attachments for use with STIHL cleaning systems to make light work of gutter cleaning all year round. The STIHL gutter cleaning kit is compatible with several blowers and blower vacs in the STIHL range and will extend the reach of your tool by up to 3m, allowing you to blast or vacuum your leaf litter from your gutters with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Featuring a hook shaped nozzle, this is the safest and cleanest way to clear your gutters of unwanted debris.

For wet leaf litter, the high-pressure cleaner gutter cleaning attachment is a great option, and if you need the additional height, an extension lance is available making no gutter out of reach. These attachments are compatible with all models in STIHL’s new petrol powered high-pressure cleaning range, however be careful when selecting this attachment for gutter cleaning as these cleaners pack a powerful punch, so should only be used on sturdy gutters. If you are unsure which method is suitable for your home, speak to your local STIHL Dealer.

Be sure to check your downspouts for build up too, and they manage the flow of water and could be the cause of build-up in your gutters. A smart and easy way to check whether your downspouts are blocked is by simply running water from your hose through the top and checking if the water is easily making it to the bottom of the spout. If the water is reduced to a trickle by the time it gets there, it is likely that there is a blockage. Blockages are easily cleared using a plumbing snake or with your high-pressure cleaner.

Lastly, you never know what is sitting in your gutters, so be sure to wear the appropriate protective gear such as glasses, gloves and head protection when using either of these tools to avoid sharp and heavy debris falling on you. If you are unsure, speak to your local STIHL Dealer and always check your owner’s manual.

For more tips and tricks to combat Autumn leaf litter, check out The BIG Autumn Clean Up or visit your local STIHL Dealer to learn more about the different gutter cleaning attachments available.

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STIHL Battery Technology

No gas, no exhaust emissions, no power cords.

The future of lawn care is battery – and STIHL is leading the charge with our full line of battery-powered products. This line of battery-powered equipment uses no gasoline, creates no exhaust emissions and requires no power cords.

STIHL batteries are custom engineered to include a host of advanced features, including LED charge indicator lights, specialized voltage monitors and temperature sensors to help ensure optimal operation and long service life. STIHL lithium-ion batteries retain over 80% capacity even after 500 charges. They are designed to operate at full speed until depleted – no gradual drop in power during use.

Quick Facts:

  • Environmentally responsible, high-performance option
  • Eliminates fuel costs for less expensive long-term operation
  • No cord, no exhaust emissions, no gasoline smell
  • Instant start-up – just pull the trigger
  • No need for oil and fuel mixing
  • Less vibrations and quieter equipment performance
  • No gradual drop in power – runs at full speed until battery is depleted
  • Long service life – more than 80% of battery capacity remains after 500 charges
  • Battery design monitors temperature and shuts down if too warm or too cold
  • Intelligent battery circuit board exchanges data between tool and charger (AK and AP Series)
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Winter Lawn Woes

After a long Canadian winter, it is time to get outside and see what the wrath of the winter left on our lawns and gardens. As the sunshine and warmer weather begin to settle in, it is time to repair for any damage so you can enjoy your yard again.

Trees and shrubs will often take the brunt of the winter elements, so take a closer look for any broken branches that have been damaged by snow and ice and prune them. Remember, it is okay to have a professional arborist out if you do not feel comfortable! Damaged trees are more susceptible to insect and disease infestations, so it is imperative to take care of any damage that you see.

Excessive snow can cause those ugly brown patches in your lawn, so take some time to rake away some of the brown grass, but just enough to see the lawns surface. If you can see some green beginning to emerge, you are in luck! Your grass should recover with time. If you notice that this area is not greening up like the rest of your lawn, you may need to put in a little extra work. To repair this spots, rake the area and bring up as much of the dead grass as you can and then add a light layer of topsoil. You will then need to use a quality grass seed for that thrives in your local area. If you do not know what type of grass will work best, stop by your local garden centre, they are a great resource! After seeding the area, keep it moist with daily watering.

Another common winter grass killer is the salt we use on our sidewalks and driveways. Follow the instructions above to remove the brown grass and repair. Watering your lawn daily to flush the salt from the soil will also help to restore the troubled areas.

Any lingering snow or moisture, especially with leaves from the fall left on your lawn, can cause mold. It generally should go away on its own; however a firm raking should do the trick to alleviate any damage.

Putting in some work on the trouble spots in your lawn will save you headaches – and more work – when the warmer weather of summer sets it. A bonus is getting it done early so you can sit back and enjoy your lawn in the beauty of the spring!

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#How To , Chopping firewood with an Axe with STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Champ Brad De Losa

 

Travelling the world with STIHL Timbersports is an amazing experience, but when it comes to chopping firewood I like to keep the physical exertion for the main stage. Here are my handy tips to help you chop like a champion and keep the family warm this Winter.

As always, make sure you’re wearing the correct Personal Protective Equipment and please follow the correct operating instructions as recommended in the owners manual of your axe.

Step 1

Place the log on its end on a flat, even surface. I like to use a larger log as a chopping block to make it easier.

 

Step 2

Stand with your feet slightly apart, start with the axe resting on the top of the log exactly where you want to split it.

TIP: Start in line with the grain, or at a visible crack. This will lessen the effort required to split the log.

 

Step 3

Lift the axe directly over your head and swing down trying to use your whole body and legs to create power.

TIP: Do not swing over your shoulder as this could cause the axe to scoop off and miss.

 

Step 4

Repeat steps 1-3 until the log is split into manageable sized pieces to fit into your woodstack ready for your fireplace, pit or stove.

 

Step 5

Stack your cut pieces evenly to let the wood dry properly.

TIP: Proper firewood storage is important. Stack the logs so that air can circulate between them. A woodstacker adds a nice feature to your Winter garden and protects your firewood from the rain.

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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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