With high heating costs and the rising cost of producing fossil fuel or electricity, there is an increased demand for alternative, inexpensive heating methods. Using wood pellet fuel is one such method. Demand for wood pellets has increased, making commercial pellets hard to find during the peak heating season. To avoid this problem, you can make your own wood pellets from scrap wood from the wood pile or workshop.
Lay out a tarpaulin on the ground or floor. Pile up the scrap wood along one side of the tarpaulin. Inspect the wood as you pile it, removing any foreign objects such as nails, screws or staples with the hammer.
Set up the wood chipper over the tarpaulin. Set up the catch basin or bucket under the dispensing end of the chipper. Put on the goggles and gloves. Feed the scrap wood into the chipper one piece at a time to ensure it is ground up properly. Remove the bucket and chipper from the tarpaulin. Sweep up any sawdust on the tarpaulin; this can be used with the scrap wood.
Match up the various sizes of chips and shavings by sorting through the wood. Leave the sawdust in the basin. Put the wood in the dryer using the larger pieces first because they take longer. Dry the scrap wood to 315 degrees C (600 degrees F). This will get rid of most of the moisture.
Put the wood chips through the hammer mill. This will reduce the chips to a pasty substance found in the catch bin under the hammer mill. Scrape this material out of the bin into the pellet press.
Run the pellet press. Pour the wood into the press. Pour the sawdust in with the pasty wood. Make sure the rollers keep a constant pressure on the die. This ensures the pellets will be properly formed. Continue to feed the pellet press until you have as many pellets as you need. Lay out the pellets on a flat surface to air dry. Cool the pellets slowly to avoid stress fractures or pellets becoming brittle and breaking.
Set up a 23 litre (5 gallon) bucket. Set the wire screen over the top of the bucket. Scoop up the pellets and place them over the screen. Sift the pellets through the screen, allowing the broken or smaller pellets to fall through the screen. These pellets can be discarded or used for other means such as bedding or filling.