This post may not be of interest to all but I know there are a number of my readers that heat their homes, at least partially, with wood so I thought I would present this idea. Now, I don't know if this would work in all areas because it depends greatly on the 'neighborliness' of work places around you but we do it here.
What you see in the photo above is what we construction workers refer to as 'dunnage'. Dunnage is 4x4 posts about 6-8 feet long that is used to elevate shipments of steel and equipment off the beds of flat-bed trucks in order for the forklifts or lifting straps to get under the load and it be removed. We also use dunnage to keep bundles of rebar or lumber up out of the mud and to be able to move it around easily. Dunnage is usually cut from cast off hickory, oak, pine and poplar so it is good wood. Now, sometimes it is roughed up to the point that you have to cut it to be able to tell what kind of wood it is but it is easily sawn with a circular saw, chainsaw or whatever. As far as I know it is not treated in any way, although some of it might get a little paint on it. It normally never has nails in it either.
Now, the reason I'm telling you is this: they throw this stuff away by the tons. Every day. We have stacks and stacks of it on the job I'm on now. Some truck drivers will take their dunnage with them and some jobs save all they get to use throughout the job but there is a lot still out there thrown away. It occurred to me that if you live in an area where hardwoods do not grow, this may be a way to procure some because often times structural steel and equipment is shipped across country. If they get a shipment from an area ripe with hardwoods, the dunnage is most likely going to be hickory or so.
If you don't have a connection to someone that works on construction sites then there are several rules you must follow so you don't piss these guys off. We have to be very aware of liability issues nowadays so please, do as you're told. Not so much by me, I mean the workers. First, go directly to the job trailer where the superintendent is. DO NOT enter the job site where work is actually going on and approach the guys there. Be very nice to the super and just explain what you are looking for. Use the correct terminology; they will respect you more. Do not say you are just looking for their scrap wood because he'll just say, we don't have time for that, go away. If they are willing to let you take the dunnage you will probably be required to come back before or after work when nothing is going on. However, if they tell you to wear a hard hat or boots or whatever, DO IT. Be quick, do what they say and don't start looking around for more to take. You will not be allowed to cut it there either so just load your truck and get out. Oh, be sure to thank them.
Now, like I said, I don't know what companies do in other parts of the country but here we try to give away what we can to keep it out of the landfills. Many companies now are requiring the sites to recycle more and more, so be aware also that they may not be allowed to give you stuff. That doesn't make sense either but you know how bureaucrats are.
So, maybe that is of some help to somebody. I know I burn dunnage when I can get it. Right now I am mostly using the trees that I am trying to get cleaned up from clearing etc. but do bring home a few sticks. Well, if the super doesn't beat me to it!
*John McCormack / written during WWI