Sunday morning my son-in-law and I spent several hours cutting, splitting and hauling fire wood from his brother's property. That in itself isn't especially noteworthy but it did remind me that I promised to post a blog regarding the choice of a wood burning stove. It also reminded me of how labor intensive it can be if you decide to work up your own supply of wood. A previous post has already addressed the issue of buying firewood.
This post will therefore address two issues: your choice of stove and tools you need to work up your own supply.
First, getting your own wood. Sure it's free but have you ever heard the saying "Wood heats twice. First, gathering it. Then when you burn it." To be more precise the saying should be that wood heats many, many times. You have to cut it, carry it to the vehicle that's going to remove it, load it, unload it, split it, stack it and finally when it's seasoned, lug it into your house. That's a lot of heat.
You'll also need some basic tools beginning with a decent sized chain saw that you're sure you can handle. Next an ax, a can of gas/oil mix, bar oil, good gloves, and finally eye and ear protection. Some people go so far as to wear a hard hat and leather chaps. I don't.
Once it's where you want it to be you then have to split it-either with a maul or if you're lucky enough to have one available, a log splitter.
Finally, as I mentioned before you need a way to haul it. Pickup trucks are best so either switch to one or borrow one or buy an old wreck to park until you need it.
Not easy, is it, for that 'free' wood?
OK, so now you have a few cords of seasoned hard wood all ready to go. How about that stove?
There are numerous brands on the market. My personal preference is the Vermont Castings line but they are by no means the only game in town. Just about all of the new ones are designed to be fairly efficient so it's pretty much a matter of personal opinion. I love the looks of the Vermont Castings line but there are others that look equally attractive. Long gone are the days when stoves were just a big metal box sitting there taking up space. Do a little research and pick out the one that appeals to you.
Some things to consider: Where is it going? Fireplace installation or free standing? If the fireplace, seriously consider a steel/titanium liner for your flue. How big an area do you have available? That will influence the type of stove you buy.
There are magazine articles and web sites that can give you more exact information and things to consider so, again, do your research.
After all of this, you may well decide to stick with oil but if you're going to be in one place for an extended period of time, all of this will definitely be paid back...and then some.