I have good memories of wood and wood piles from my childhood. While my grandfather was alive, he maintained a substantial stack cut from trees that fell in the woods. What remains of that weathered stack today is so crumbly, it’s no longer suitable for burning.
Suitable or not suitable?
Burning suitable wood is one of the first recommendations we make to our customers. If you don’t have wood on your property, or if you’re not sure how to cut, stack, and season any free wood that might come your way, locate a reputable vendor to provide what you need. Also check out our blogs on Seasoned Wood and Learn to Season Wood if you cut your own wood or have access to a free supply.
Here in Austin, we buy wood from the Butler Wood company. Butler delivers a rack of double split oak as we need it. They replace the empty rack in our storage area with a full one. I use some of the wood for my own cooking and some for our customers as part of our First-fire™ service when their ovens are ready to fire up. We provide enough quality wood, properly cut and split, to make their first event successful.
What exactly is a cord of wood?
The best way to buy wood is by the cord or partial cord, but people use the term differently. A full cord of wood measures 4′ wide by 4′ tall by 8′ long. That is a lot of wood! Few vendors sell wood in that configuration, but it pays to understand how each vendor defines its terms. For more detailed information, check out the diagrams and descriptions in the Cord Wood article on WoodHeat.org’s website.
Butler Wood’s 1/4 cord is a stack of 18″ pieces 4 feet high and 5.5 feet wide. In a commercial cage it is double-stacked to fit a smaller footprint. Either way the 1/4 cord is at least 32 cubic feet of wood (usually more like 35).
Butler Wood supplies four types of cooking wood: oak, mesquite, hickory and pecan. Cookwood is cut to 16-18 ” in length, just the right dimensions for a wood-fired oven. Butler Wood delivers true quarter cord increments according to the customer’s specifications, whole, split, or double split. Double split wood is ideal for wood-burning ovens, offering maximum control over temperature and easy lighting. If you have single-cut wood, the Kindling Cracker is a helpful tool for splitting wood safely.
For convenience, I order the wood racked. However, Butler will also stack the wood in a designated place for customers who don’t choose to rack their wood.
The Butler folks give a “heads-up” for buyers of wood. “Be wary of roadside firewood vendors that typically sell green wood that is not ideal for fireplaces.” Aaron Franklin owner of Franklin Barbecue, says that when he first started cooking, he didn’t “have a good sense for firewood.” As an experienced cook, he recommends burning seasoned oak, cut 16-18 inches, and split to a diameter of 3-6 inches (Franklin Barbecue a Heat Smoking Manifesto, p.80).