Unless you live out in a barren desert, grassland, or in the ocean, wood for firewood is usually not far away. And even if you live in those places, it can sometimes still be found if there are people and towns around. In most parts of the US and many other countries, wood is very abundant.
Wood from forest land. If you are fortunate enough to have your own forest land, well, most people are probably totally disgusted with you right now, out of pure jealously. But aside from that, consider yourself to be very fortunate. With the right management strategies, you can provide a sustainable source of firewood material indefinitely. Although it may be tempting to just start cutting trees, it’s best to consult with an experienced forester. If you can determine how much wood per acre per year your land will grow and not over cut, and which trees to selectively cut and which to leave, your land will produce far more wood in the long term.
Wood from other people’s forest land. Unfortunately most of us don’t have a large piece of forest land. That’s ok, neither do most successful firewood business owners. There are many land owners who have forest land who would love to see someone take wood from their land. Contrary to what many of us have been taught, most forests are over stocked with wood. A build up of dead wood and overcrowded trees can create a huge fire hazard and contribute to slow growth and disease.
With a little creativity, it shouldn’t be hard to find landowners who will be glad to let you have some of this excess wood for a small fee or in exchange for cleaning up the property. Some people who become experienced with managing forests even charge landowners money for these services. If you can get paid by the landowner, and get paid for selling the wood, not a bad deal.
Landowners can be always found that are clearing trees to make way for construction, roadways, ponds, pasture, etc. I can’t count the number of times I have seen all the trees being bulldozed into huge piles and set on fire. Sometimes dozens or even hundreds of cords of prime potential firewood and money being burned. If you asked some of them really nice, maybe they would let you have some of it or sell it to you for a small fee. You can always offer to help clean up the mess or in some way provide them some value in exchange for the wood. Maybe offer to burn the slash (limbs and debris) in exchange for the wood. Save them the expense of piling and burning.
This summer I bought a bunch of trees that a land owner was clearing to build a road. I got the wood cheap, and all the logging was done for me. I made more money with that than if I had spent the time cutting trees on my own land.
Wood from urban forests. In urban areas, trees are always coming down or being trimmed. In any sizable town or city you will find a list of tree services in the yellow pages. Many of the trees and limbs get taken to the landfill or chipped or both. Most tree services are too busy being tree services to get into the firewood business. It probably wouldn’t be hard to convince some of them to let you have the wood and save them the expense of disposing of it.
A lot of times I see people post ads on craigslist trying to get rid of wood that is sitting in their yard. They may have had a tree removed or trimmed and they don’t burn wood or have a use for it. Another source of cheap and sometimes free wood.
Wood from industry. If there is logging and other forest harvesting in your area, this can be a great source of wood. In the lumber industry, there is only a certain percentage of the material harvested that is suitable for making lumber. There is usually a lot of material that is left to rot or is burned on site. You can sometimes make a deal with loggers or landowners to have this material or to buy it. In some areas it’s common for loggers to sell these firewood logs and deliver them in log form with a log truck. You can then cut them up and sell the firewood to your customers for much more.
Lumber mills and wood manufacturing businesses can be a source of scrap wood. Trimmed ends and culls are discarded from many of these types of businesses. A lot of times they are chipped and utilized for other products, but sometimes they can be more valuable as firewood.
Recycled wood. If forests are scarce in your area, you can get wood from demolition, pallets, scrap wood on people’s property, fences being torn down, etc.