Whether you like to split a cedar round down to bite size pieces or use a hand pruner to lop off the real thin branches of whatever tree has been downed, kindling wood is a huge part of the fireplace process.
I know there are guys out there who still crumple up an old newspaper to start their fires. I even know a guy who saves all his old paper coffee cups to start his fires. Depending on your storage space or lack of it, there is a ton of free wood out there just waiting to become your kindling.
I’m not saying that old coffee cups aren’t a good idea, but I prefer wood. Any construction site that is using lumber is a great place to look. These guys actually pay someone to take all their garbage away. It’s been my experience, that they are normally more than happy to give you all the end cuts. Less weight for them to pay for at the dump.
Old pallets are everywhere and they are usually free. Removing the nails is optional, but I do. It’s a bit more work than the end cuts but it’s worth it.
My favourite free-bees are old fence panels, preferably unstained. My part of the world is full of broken old cedar fences. They can be 4, 6 or even 8 feet tall, so it doesn’t take many panels to add up to a shit load of kindling. I’ve got a wall of old cedar fence planks up against my shop.
I just separate the panels, put all the planks together and if the posts and frames are okay, I keep those as well. Like my wife says, “It all burns”, in this case she’s pretty correct.
It stacks great, so I leave them long until I’m running low. Then I’ll run a bunch through the chop saw and split them with a nice sharp hatchet. In less than half an hour, I’ve got a good week’s worth of nice size kindling.