Small Quebec business expands into firewood

November 13, 2017

By: The Working Forest Staff

Seizing an opportunity presented by the retirement of some of the firewood providers in his area, Paul Santerre expanded his property maintenance business to include firewood sales a few years ago. He started small, using only a manual splitter and a chainsaw that first summer. That didn’t last long; four months of splitting wood sent Santerre seeking another option.

“I had seen wood processors at local fairs,” says Santerre. He weighed the options and purchased a Hakki Pilke Easy 42 model two years ago. Equipped with a self-cleaning output conveyor and a timber deck, the Hakki Pilke Easy 42 is an efficient, complete production line that can also be used for demanding professional use.

The firewood business has been good since then. Santerre’s business is located in Sutton, Que. He says several older men in the area who cut and sold firewood decided to leave the business, and he stepped in to the opening.

Santerre and one employee process about 800 – 900 cords each year, and still can’t meet customer demand. Santerre estimates that if he had someone operating the firewood processor full-time, the machine would probably have paid for itself in less than one year.

As it is, Santerre and his employee do most of their splitting during the winter and spring, when they are not in the woods harvesting. Santerre does not own any timberland, but he will clear wood for clients. If that’s not enough, he buys firewood-quality wood from local harvesters.

Santerre says he and his employee can achieve throughput of about 6 cord/hour on the Easy 42. He purchased a skidway with the machine, so his preferred method is to load logs from the harvest site onto a log trailer using its clamshell. Then the logs can be transferred to the skidway of the Hakki Pilke processors using the clamshell again.

Santerre’s Easy 42 is powered by a PTO on his 60-hp tractor, but the units are also available as electric or combination models. The splitting power automatically varies between 3 and 13.2 tonnes, which means that when splitting small wood, the machine operates faster and with less power, which makes it an effective choice for both large and small logs.

Reprinted from the 2017 Fall #1 issue of The Working Forest.

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