By Chris | November 11, 2013 - 12:17 pm - Posted in Specs & Data, Treated Wood

There’s a common question that gets batted around. The answer is simple but the reason is usually not explained well. Feel free to add your 2 cents, too, if you happen to be a chemist or treated wood pro.

Can you burn treated wood? Well, yes. You should know it is illegal in all 50 states to do so.

SHOULD You Burn Pressure Treated Wood?

NO. You should not burn pressure treated wood — ever. Again, it is illegal in all 50 states to burn pressure treated wood.

Why You SHOULD NOT Burn Treated Wood?

First, it’s illegal. If by some chance it is not illegal where you are, it probably should be. Second, the metal left in the ash is probably harmful to you or the environment in one way or another. For the purpose of this post, we’ll focus on 3 chemicals commonly used to pressure treat wood.

  • CCA — Chromated Copper Arsenate — only used for commercial and marine applications now
  • MCQ — Micronized Copper Quaternary — used for residential and commercial
  • CA — Copper Azole — use for residential and commercial

The primary ingredients in these pressure treated wood chemicals are metals — copper, chromium, and arsenate (a form of arsenic, in case you were wondering). When treated wood is burned, the metals remain in the ash. Inhaling the smoke would be bad for you, too, but the main danger comes from the concentrated metals left in the ash.

All three metals are toxic to some degree. Arsenic is the worst, by far. According to this discussion string, the ash left from burning CCA treated wood is toxic enough to kill cows and deer.

Copper and chromium are also toxic but not so severely poisonous as arsenic. The human body needs some copper to function properly but too much lead to a host of issues from diarrhea and vomiting to liver failure and more. Here is a list of possible reactions to copper toxicity and some more here. Chromium poisoning appears to be pretty terrible, too.

Chromium poisoning is very rare but it is possible. Chromium is an essential nutrient in the human body and helps with how insulin regulates blood sugar levels. Too much can cause rashes, renal failure, and more.

There you have it. The short answer is DON’T BURN TREATED WOOD but the readers of LumberTalk tend to like more complete info so there you go. Here’s a post where someone posts the question about why it’s so bad to burn treated wood. The responses are aggravating because no one answers his question and only tells him to trust in knowing that it’s dangerous. You might actually feel a little sorry for “tgm1024.”

By Chris | May 21, 2013 - 8:23 am - Posted in Poles, Posts, Pilings

Here’s a good resource if you are in the market for used poles, especially wood poles. We put together as a free resource for buyers and sellers to trade used poles, and maybe other building materials, too.

I always feel compelled to mention that I don’t necessarily recommend using used poles for your project. Some poles were removed for a reason so think hard about your intention with your building project. If you are building something that is structural, reconsider using used poles to save money. You might be much better off in the long-run by installing new poles. If you are building something that is purely aesthetic, then go to town with yourself and your used poles.

Just make sure you know what you are buying.

That said, here is

By Chris | October 4, 2011 - 11:45 pm - Posted in Alternative Materials, Decks & Fences, Farm & Ranch, How To, Poles, Posts, Pilings

What is the best fence post depth? That depends (of course) on what type of fence you are building and which post you are putting in the ground. We’ll cover a few here with some general fence builder rules.

Privacy Fence Post Depth — 1/3 of Height

The general rule of thumb for privacy fence posts is to bury them 1/3 the depth of the height of the post. This is easy for your typical privacy fence. Use 8? posts, bury 2? in the ground, and you’re left with a 6? post on which to build a fence.

Concrete is still a good idea (I recommend it), especially if you live in an area with high winds or occasional hurricanes. I’ve even drilled a 9/16? x 8? hole in the bottoms of the posts and driven a piece of re-bar in with about 12? sticking out. The result is a post buried 2 feet in the ground, with re-bar another 12? (driven into the clay soil), surrounded by concrete — very strong posts. Overkill? Whatever, dude.

Farm & Ranch Fence

Your typical farm or ranch fence, especially one with wire stretched, has 2 types of posts — line posts and corner posts.

Use the 1/3 of height rule for the line posts depths. With 6 foot posts, you will probably bury 1.5 to 2 feet and end up with a 4 to 4.5 foot post. For corner posts, you might want to use a rule of 1/2 the height for the fence post depth. So, a 5 foot tall corner post would probably be buried 2.5 feet in the ground — probably more like 3 feet buried of an 8? post.

By Chris | May 13, 2011 - 4:50 pm - Posted in Treated Wood

green treated cca poles

These "Green Treated" poles have a light green color because they are treated with CCA

A lot of people ask about “green treated wood.” There’s nothing magical about it so let’s clear it up.

Green = CCA

9 times out of 10 green treated wood simply means CCA treated wood. CCA, of course, is Chromated Copper Arsenate, the stuff that was banned for use in most residential applications such as decks, railing, fences, and the like.

People freaked out about the “arsenate” component of the wood. Arsenate is a naturally-occurring form of arsenic so people got freaked out but the stuff is all around us anyway. Stick your hand in any patch of dirt in your backyard and you’ll probably be touching more arsenate than if you were to do a handstand on your CCA treated deck (which you can’t make anymore). I’ve researched it a decent amount and have seriously never seen any evidence that it actually causes any health issues. Oh, yeah. I digress…

CCA is still allowed for use in water and for many commercial and industrial applications because it is an ultra-effective treatment to dramatically increase the life of wood. Wood treated with CCA gets a green color that might range anywhere from light young-lemony-green with light treatment to near-forest green with a saltwater treatment (2.5pcf).

It’s that simple, really. Green treated wood is wood pressure treated with CCA.

Other Treatments

To separate themselves from the green treated wood, ACQ treated lumber producers branded their ACQ treated wood lumber as Yellawood, which you’ve probably seen on everything from store shelves to billboards. MCQ is basically clear, or colorless. In fact, the very strength of being clear is kind of its weakness, too, because when MCQ lumber is delivered many people do not believe they have received treated wood. It really is that hard to tell sometimes.

CCA is a better product anyway. I think we should drop the Yella stuff and the clear stuff and the whatever stuff and go back to the good ol’ green treated wood that works so well. It makes me want to only build on water where I know I can use the good stuff.

Of course, there’s also BLUE treated wood which is usually a borate-based treated wood but that’s a different conversation. 🙂

By Chris | September 30, 2010 - 8:46 am - Posted in How To, Plans

CT school of wood working

CT Valley School even teaches boatbuilding

Most (ok, nearly all) of discusses larger projects but the more detailed wood working arts like furniture making and wood turning are interesting, too. The scope of wood working is immense so I thought an introduction to wood working schools would be the best way to show some of the variety – stuff you’ve surely seen but might not think much about.

So, we put together a list of relevant wood working schools in America…

Homestead Woodworking Institution

Homestead offers an impressive variety of courses for beginners to advanced students. From turning bowls to making furniture, Homestead Woodworking Institution has a well rounded set of classes to teach you everything you need to know. Located in Newmarket, NH, Homestead’s classes are affordable and you can even sign up online.

Lohr School For Woodworking

This popular wood working school is situated in Schwenksville, PA. The Lohr School for Woodworking is filled with exceptionally trained teachers that offer a comprehensive course level in wood working. You can learn all types of wood working techniques here but, most notably, Lohr teaches live edge free form wood working. Wood technology and joinery methods are covered in this school. This might be the school for the more artistic of you.

Connecticut Valley School

This wood working institution offers you a comprehensive learning program in every course level. Located in Manchester, CT, the Connecticut Valley School teaches traditional wood working skills such as wood turning and finishing but also offers course in such unique and [painstaking] skills as relief carving and boat building. The breadth of wood working techniques taught here is kind of amazing.

So, these are some of the wood working schools in United States that struck me as ones where you could get some great – and maybe unique – lessons.

I was going to make this a really big and comprehensive list and then I found this list of wood working schools and decided to stop writing more.

Happy Wood Working