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American & Slippery Elm

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by mossycup, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. mossycup

    mossycup Member

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    I worked out a fantastic deal with a local arborist to drop off any clean hardwood, deciduous logs whenever they are in the area (for their convenience, their yard is on the other side of town). So far they've treated me to some Hickory, Ash, Oak, H-Locust, Hackberry, Sugar & Norway Maple, but the last load they bought was about a couple cords worth of either American or Slippery Elm that is also found in the area.
    I have split my share of green Siberian (aka "chinese") Elm and understand the other elms can put up the same battle. Since I have a lot of space to process the logs, I am thinking of only bucking it now and stacking the rounds until next summer/fall to give them time to make splitting easier. Some of the largest rounds are up to 36" dia.

    Has anyone else found that this trick will work, or am I holding my breath that it will split easier in a year?

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  2. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    Maybe you can buck shorter than usual. How long can a split be and still fit front to back (north/south, as they say) in your stove? Short pieces are easier to split than long ones, all other factors being equal.
  3. Duetech

    Duetech Minister of Fire

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    I have split a lot of elm and find that it tends to split hard no matter what you do but frozen it splits better than warm and that's with hydraulics involved. Buck it as short as is reasonable and leave it out to soak up all the moisture that it can before it freezes. If it's already dead then it's time for the hydraulics and the normal protection it should get.
  4. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I doubt that the splitting will be easier next summer. Just the nature of the beast.
  5. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    I've found that elm gets harder to spit after sitting. There's something about the "not fresh cut" rounds that just seem like they don't even want to crack. This may just be my imagination. In my experience it won't get noticeably easier, perhaps even the opposite.
  6. mossycup

    mossycup Member

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    Man, I thought I had these boogers beat. Maybe I'll just try another trick by laying them on end on the ground for a little wicking action and wait until a 10 degree day this winter to break out the splitter;-)
  7. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Could you explain that wicking action please?
  8. joefrompa

    joefrompa New Member

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    Cut em 10-12" thick (not 18" thick rounds or more) and let em season a few months.

    They're not nearly as bad doing that than:

    1. Green
    2. Normal thickness

    Trust me, it's worth the effort to cut them down to 10-12" of thickness per round rather than try to split them at 20 inches.
  9. joefrompa

    joefrompa New Member

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    Also, i have a good number of smallish chunks like that. They season beautifully in 10' lengths. Elm tends not to split into big hunks either.
  10. mossycup

    mossycup Member

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    LOL! It's kind of a lazy concept.
    Since I already bucked the whole batch at 16"-18", hindsight is telling me I should have waited until winter to cut it so that it might pop apart with more moisture in the frozen months. So now that it is cut I figure the best chance I have of splitting it nice and moist (frozen) is to just do the lazy thing and lay all the rounds end grain down. The area I process all my wood is down near a creek and the valley is always cooler and the field is always moist. The tops may start checking, but the bottoms are going to be nice and damp and hopefully pop when they hit the splitter.

    I have a feeling my theory is all washed up, but my beer is telling me otherwise;-)
  11. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    :lol: Beer has a tendency to do those things.


    As for the splitting while frozen, I don't think that will help much with elm. The only thing we found to work was to wait until the tree is dead and then wait further until all or at least 90% of the bark has fallen from the tree. Then the cutting is a bit harder but the splitting is a whole different ball game. You can many times split by hand quite easy. The bonus is that the wood also burns much, much better. Split and stringy it goes up fast but split after dead and most do not have that stringy and burns a whole lot better.
  12. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    You are doing fine. I would stack them and then wait for winter to split them. I find elm splits better after seasoning some and when it is frozen.
  13. Biff_CT2

    Biff_CT2 Member

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    I've got a bit of elm in my stacks that I split with a maul and wedges. Seasoning makes it easier to start the wedge, but it's always a groan to split the round.

    I've got a downed elm over in a neighbor's yard that I have to carve up and drag home when I have some time. Elm sucks - the only thing I've seen that helps is cutting the rounds short. I can sink the wedge such that the head is below the top of the round and have no sign of cracking at the bottom of the round.

    I do enjoy getting the last laugh on the suckers - when I toss a chunk into into the stove.

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