10 September 1999

Kindling stick production enters automated age

ALTHOUGH there are plenty of machines available for turning timber into firewood, there are few – if any – that are specifically designed to producing kindling.

Warks-based forestry equipment company Fuelwood has pioneered the concept with its Kindla – an ingenious and fully-automatic device that produces the neatest kindling without the operator ever once having to raise an axe.

Powered from a tractor or power pack hydraulics, the Kindla handles sawn rings up to 250mm (10in) diameter, 150mm (6in) wide. The latter dimension is critical within 15mm either way to ensure smooth feed down the intake shoot.

In a continuous cycle, an X-blade splitter cuts the wood into slices which are themselves then split as the wood is indexed forward by spring-loaded fingers either side of the feed-in chute.

"The process is slow enough for one man to operate the machine, filling up the feed chute, removing bark and other debris from the finished product and bagging it," says Richard Slatem of Fuelwood Warwick. "But with an hourly output of 0.75cu m – or 75 one litre bags – production far exceeds hand or semi-automatic splitting."

A series of collecting trays can be added to accumulate product before bagging off, usually into plastic net bags which allow the material to dry and create a neat package for retail sale. The ultimate set-up, says Mr Slatem, would be an integrated production line with rings passing direct from a saw bench into the kindling processor.

The Kindla unit sells for £4500 (plus £1350 for electric or hydraulic power pack if needed), with a bagging device £125, multiple bagging tray system £450. &#42