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A Black Locust problem.

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by DMZX, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. DMZX

    DMZX Member

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    I have an old and sick Black Locust tree in my yard that I am having put down by a tree service. The truck is about 20' high and 5' in diameter. I ask the tree service guy to leave all the limbs 2" and bigger so I could cut them up into firewood lengths myself. He will chip the fine material.

    The problem I have is what to do with the trunk. I do not have a splitter, (only a maul) and do not have access to one. The tree guy said he could cut the trunk into 14" cookies for me and leave them, or he could take them. I would very much like him to leave them, but I need to know how I can, if possible, cut up 5' diameter Locust cookies with a MS29. Is is doable? How might it be done?

    Again a hydraulic or electric splitter is not an option, either is a bigger saw. I have a 8lb maul and a MS290 with a 20" bar.

    Any suggestions would be most appreciated!

    FYI - I have no experience at all with Locust. I have been cutting and burning softwoods pine/fir/spruce exclusively for years.

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  2. Locust Post

    Locust Post Minister of Fire

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    Locust is not terribly hard to split. You should be able to whittle away at those big rounds from the outside around the edge. You could also buy a wedge if needed and if your maul has a sledge head on the back side drive a wedge in.....I would still suggest working around the outside and just take slices off. If you have been burning softwoods that locust will make you think you hit the mother load. Locust is my favorite wood and some other will chime in about how good it is.
  3. DMZX

    DMZX Member

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    My maul does have a sledge head. So if I made two cuts into the cookie, I could split the piece away with a wedge? Working my way around the cookie, slowly reducing it. I think that is what you suggested. That sounds doable. Just need to buy a couple of wedges.

    How long does it take to cure the wood, given that I live in a dry climate?
  4. Stax

    Stax Minister of Fire

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    Tell em to leave those big cookies. I've never split locust that large before but juding on how well my 2-3 ft. Locust split, I think the maul, a sledge and a wedge could it with a lot of elbow grease. Just sayin.
  5. katwillny

    katwillny Guest

    Locust is a great wood to burn no only does it burn really hot, it seasons rather quickly. If the tree guy is going to make you cookies, then cookies you should have. I think between the wedges and the maul you should be able to do some damage. I just spend the better part of yesterday splitting locust with an 8lb maul and a wedge. Locust is too good to not keep IMO.
  6. Locust Post

    Locust Post Minister of Fire

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    You may be able to just use the maul and work around the edge. Yes slowly reducing it. If it has some knots from limbs coming out the side it may be a bit of a challenge. If you get one that you just can't get any more split off of, make a cut across an edge with your saw down in a few inches and then swing the maul into that cut or drive a wedge into the cut.

    If you get that split now and stacked in a single row where it will get plenty of wind it will probably be fine for winter (generally will give up it's low moisture content fairly quickly).....it will be even better if you save it till next winter or the next winter or the next winter and on and on. That's is one of the great things about locust it just lasts and lasts. That's why they use it for fence posts.
  7. DMZX

    DMZX Member

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    Excellent advise. That trunk must be equal to a years worth of wood, so I really want to keep it. I have plenty of time to work at it and get it all stacked.

    Thanks all for the quick responses.
  8. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    Throw the tree guy a little more $ to cut half way through (noodle) each of of the trunk rounds.
  9. Hickorynut

    Hickorynut Burning Hunk

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    You may not have as much problem with that trunk as you think. Quite possibly the inside at the base in hollow because of carpenter ants and such. I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't break up in four or five pieces rather easily just using a maul. Locust, even big trunk pieces split very easy compared to oak for example. I almost bet on it :<)).
  10. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    that locust is with its weight and worth a little work to split it. If you enjoy wood heat and burning firewood, you HAVE to keep that locust. I'd NEVER be able to let that locust go........I LIVE for locust!!! Take yer time and chip away at it, its not too bad to split with yer maul.....
  11. embers aplenty

    embers aplenty Member

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    Yea, Keep those cookies. I'd just as soon have locust as anything going. I've been burning some yellow locust lately. I can tell when I open the stove door, it nearly singes the hair off the back of my arm it burns so hot.

    Just use those cookies for exercise as needed. :) Good reason to be reading reviews on splitters like I've been doing. I've always wanted one. When funds get better this summer I'm going to pull the trigger on a 37 Ton Northstar or a 35 Ton Speeco Splitmaster. I figure since I'm 50 now I deserve it. He he :)

    With those size cookies, you've got the mutha load my friend!!
  12. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Lopi Pioneer:

    "Maximum Burn Time Low: 55, High: 15 Hours."

    I predict 85 hour burn times with the BL! :lol:
  13. rwhite

    rwhite Minister of Fire

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    If you need a work bench nows the time to have him cut a 3' length and stand it on end. I have an old chunk of maple that I use for working on the saw and just general hammering on on stuff. Even if 14" is to thick to split you can cut as deep as you can in half and chip away at it then cut it again. BTW the rest of the maple from that tree had to be cut at 10" so I could split it. Still burns the same.
  14. DMZX

    DMZX Member

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    I hope the splits don't jam up the auger. :lol:

    Actually, I heat the house with pellets, and heat the shop/garage with wood.
  15. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

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    Renting a splitter for a day is out of the question?
  16. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

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    Not an expert but I would suggest buying a decent sledge when you buy the wedges and 3 wedges would probably not be a bad idea. Good small investment and I find if I am splitting something by hand that is large it is nice to give a monster "Thor" shot with the maul first and if it sticks leave it and start the wedges in the crack it started with your maul still stuck in there. I do this with an axe and wedges but I have not split 5' rounds either.

    I also agree that that thing may have some serious ant work done on the inside but hard to tell until she's down. You may find Thor shots pull off big chunks easier that expected? Anyway you look at it the advice above is spot on - NEVER give away great, free, firewood that is bucked in your lawn!!!

    I think the wood Gods would punnish you with bad scrounging for years and a dirty chimney if you let that much Locust go.

    BTW - pictures of the tree before and after felling would be nice - maybe a short vid of the felling?
  17. cptoneleg

    cptoneleg Minister of Fire

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    If you been burning and splitting softwoods, you in for a big surprise, BL isn't all that easy to split, not here in Va. anyway. I burn a couple of cords a yr. Around here you can rent a splitter for $35.00 a day.

    Besides you don't have a Locust in your backyard if you did we could see it in the picture.
  18. DMZX

    DMZX Member

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    The closest rental place is 50 miles away and they want WAY too much (min - $70, daily rate $95).

    I bored into the trunk as far as my saw could go (20") and found no rot. I do not see any evidence of insect activity around the tree, so I am betting it is 80-90% solid.

    And, I got some great advise here, so I formulated a plan using available tools. I knew it would be ludicrous to give a huge chunk of hardwood to a guy I am paying to cut down a tree, but I knew I could get viable alternatives from the experienced experts on this forum, and I did!

    I will take some before and after pictures and post them. The tree guy will be here at the end of the week.
  19. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Last spring was hand splitting locust at 18-20 inch lenghts that were big enough around many of the logs would have left a good foot inbetween my fingers if I were to hug them. They split great considering their size using the fiskars or the maul.


    pen
  20. DMZX

    DMZX Member

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    The cookies will be ~14" tall by 5' in diameter. Maybe they will split without any cutting involved? Maybe they will be so big, that a good whack with a sledge will at least split them in half?

    i will report back.
  21. blujacket

    blujacket Minister of Fire

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    Black Locust is one of the easiest woods to split.
  22. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Sure it is solid all the way through 5 feet?

    Cut it down and see what you have. For me, 14 in wood is a PIA. If it's what you have to do, then it's what you have to do. But I'd at least cut one to 16-18 or whatever your desired length is and give it a go to see how it splits. If you are having trouble, then try 14 inches.

    Just going to have to play around and see.

    BTW, for my experience with locust, I find it splits best the quicker I get to it after the tree is cut. The pieces that I let sit around for a few months after cutting the trees up seemed to be more difficult to split than their counterparts a few months earlier.

    Also, you may very likely find that splitting them right in 1/2 may not be your best bet. Sometimes taking slabs off the outsides and working your way in is easier.

    pen
  23. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    Hey DMZX, I don't know how physically fit you are, but I think anyone who can swing a maul reasonably well could split 14 inch Black Locust with just the maul. I know I could and I am not particulary big or strong. Don't try to split the 5 footers right down the middle. Find a weak spot or chip off the edges. Locust is prety easy to split, especially when cut to only 14 inches long.
  24. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    Don't be afraid of the big rounds. The hardest part will be moving them. Work from the outside in. Black Locust is one of the easier splitting woods. The greener it is the easier it splits. BL split and stacked now should be ready to burn next season.
  25. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Black powder wedges work good for breaking down big rounds.

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