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Elm Burners?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Redlegs, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. Redlegs

    Redlegs Feeling the Heat

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    I was driving by the a farmers homestead Saturday, and had to stop when he and another guy were butchering up an elm tree alongside the house. I found out that neither one wanted the trunk, or any wood larger than five inches in diameter. I ran home, hooked up a trailer, grabbed a saw and one of my sons to help me load, and withn an hour added these rounds to the pile. They're the light-colored rounds below. The farmer let me know he was taking out twelve more big elm trees, 20-28 inch trunks, along a fenceline (I can drive right up to them on the access road), and I could have everything on those bigger than 5in dia. I like how elm burns, but man is it a bugger to get split. I was wondering how many other folks here split and burn elm, and if you all know any tricks of the trade to make elm easier to split, I am all ears.

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  2. TimJ

    TimJ Minister of Fire

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    Never split that kind of elm and never split it green either. I would be guessing if I said let them rounds sit awhile and it will be easier. No need to wait if you have a splitter because it will do the job.
  3. Ralphie Boy

    Ralphie Boy Minister of Fire

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    I've only had a small red elm and it split nicely. You sure the light stuff is elm? kind of looks like ash. But like I said I've not seen any American elm.
  4. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

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    Unfortunately I do not think there are any tricks beyond effort to split elm and hopefully you have hydros. I just removed a badly flagging large elm from my property and almost every split needed the hydros to bottom out as well as some manual manipulation to get them apart. A sharp hatchet helps. I guess the only trick I use is to get way ahead(which it looks like you are) and split large because you can let it sit for 2+ years. Elm is a pain to split but I like how it burns and easy access/free wood is always worth the effort IMO
    AJS56 likes this.
  5. fishinpa

    fishinpa Member

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    A buddy brought me a truckload of elm a few years back. It was soo stringy that I split a buch then gave up, setting the rest aside for about a year. I stached it vertically for storage (no particular reason other than convenience at the time)

    I kept my saw close and used it frequently during the splitting process.

    When I got back into it about a year later, The outer few inches were still a but stringy, but the "heart" of it was pretty hard. I remember finding that if I then split the rounds in half, then finished split from the inside - out, it was much easier.

    I was thinking that the rain and weather 'running throught it' may have helped, but who knows.

    That was my only serious elm experience and about all I remember. Not sure if it'll help or not.
  6. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    My trick with elm is to use a hydraulic splitter. ;)
    red oak, schlot and AJS56 like this.
  7. mizzou

    mizzou New Member

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    I don't mind elm, decent heat, but can be pain to split. I usually start with the fiskars, then after about 5 minutes, fire up the hydro.
    Shane N likes this.
  8. Redlegs

    Redlegs Feeling the Heat

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    I have hand split the smaller stuff, by working it from the outside inwards. Now a buddy up the way has a 35ton splitter and that goes through most of it, but we still end up wacking stringy parts with a hatchet also. It does seem to dry nicely, and maybe thats due to the way it sort of gets ripped open by the splitter, as opposed to other woods that pop open quick with little splitter pressure, but look like dimensional lumber.
    Applesister likes this.
  9. wishlist

    wishlist Minister of Fire

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    Good score! I had a huge dead standing elm a few years back. It was the kind that the main trunk, seems like it was 8 or so logs had to be noodled. My hydro wouldn't touch the stuff! However, just wait till its frozen solid in the dead of winter ( like now if you've had cold weather) and it makes a world of difference. It won't split like oak but it sure splits much better! Good luck. :)
    Redlegs likes this.
  10. lab17

    lab17 New Member

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    I don't cut elm down till the bark is almost all fallen off then CSS. No stringiness and splits way easier. If it was still green when cut, don't have experience here, but imagine letting it sit a few years to dry would be a benefit. Those big knots and crotches, I put them aside and drop at my dad who uses hydraulics.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  11. madtrapper

    madtrapper Member

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    I cut a fair amount of elm dead and alive if dead split right away alive I just stack and let sit for at least 6 months before splitting. I use hydros but fresh cut elm is a pain and have to use a hatchet to cut the strings just takes to long when fresh cut
    Redlegs likes this.
  12. Redlegs

    Redlegs Feeling the Heat

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    It's going to be 70 DEG F here today. I let the fire go out this morning, and my wife opened up all the windows to "air out the house". It's supposed' to be back into the 20's later in the week/weekend so if gets below freezing for a couple days, I might try to hit it with the splitter while it's frozen - thst sounds like a good idea.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  13. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    All you need is lots of pressure. Then you can just squish them into submission.!!!
    100_1025sm.jpg
    keninmich, Thistle, loon and 4 others like this.
  14. Redlegs

    Redlegs Feeling the Heat

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    Jags - love that picture. I cant tell you how many times it just ends up in twisted mess like that! On the other hand those stingy bits catch on fire easy.
    ScotO, AJS56 and Jags like this.
  15. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Redlegs, we've burned (and split) lots of elm and have done so for years. So far this year we've only cut up 4 or 5 but there are plenty more. They can wait another year with no problem. For sure we do not like cutting live elm. Jags picture shows why we don't like to split it when green. We wait until the bark is off or almost all off. It can even wait another year or two after that if need be. Doing this you can split most of it with a splitting maul, but we have hydraulics now.

    Warning: elm that is grown in the open spaces will almost always end up twisted and you'll match Jags split very easily. If the elm is in the woods and out of the prevailing wind, it will grow straighter and therefore split much easier. This means that probably in your area all the elm will be a twisted mess. Hydraulics are the only way to do on those.
    Redlegs likes this.
  16. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    For the record, that pic is from a tree that was standing barkless and dead for a few years...BUT to Dennis' point it was out in the middle of a field and getting wind battered its whole life. Toughest thing I ever ran across my splitter.
  17. Redlegs

    Redlegs Feeling the Heat

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    Well the lot that is coming out is a mix of dead- standing and live-green elm. Most of them the farmer said were American Elm, but are growning along a fencerow on top of a rise - small bluestem pasture to the north and row crop to the south, so hopefully they will have gotten plenty of good ol Kansas wind and be nice and twisty inside - great. :>)
    On the bright side it is all free and only a mile form the house, and the farmer has a front loader he likes to use to help load.

    Dennis or Jags, if I were going to leave it in rounds, do you think it wouls be better cut to length (18-20in) or leave in log length (8-10 feet) ? I have read of some guys leaving firewood in log length and would be curiuos to hear you thought on advantages vs disadvantages?
  18. Locust Post

    Locust Post Minister of Fire

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    Elm is a bit of a pain and generally you do have to bottom out the splitter. I split a fair amount last year and have some for this year to split. One thing I had luck with...when splitting a good size round if it does not split all the way in half never flip it end for end as you have the fibers tearing in one direction and if you come from the oppisite end in, you are fighting against the fibers. Better to roll the round over and split in the same direction as the first splitter pass.
  19. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I have always worked with the theory that the smaller the hunk, the better it will dry, so I cut them to length. Of course they still need to get split to really do any good. For long term "storage", split and stacked wood will outlast log form every time.
    firefighterjake and Redlegs like this.
  20. Redlegs

    Redlegs Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks Dennis. Good intel on the c/s/s vs rounds for storage. I would not have guesed that.
  21. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Well...this is Jags, but the idea for storage is to do it DRY. The rounds need to be split to get dry.
  22. Redlegs

    Redlegs Feeling the Heat

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    Sorry, JAG I got mixed up.

    BTW, I looked up the thread on the splitters you have built. I am not too bad at finding things, and you have given the idea that I could get a decent splitter together. Thanks again for the advise on wood storage. :>)
  23. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Oh...that was my little one for the cabin. Darn thing works great and its fast.
  24. schlot

    schlot Minister of Fire

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    I split a bunch of green american elm....with the hydraulic splitter listed below. In fact that's all the wood ive used it for so far. Stringy stuff would have been a pain in the backside otherwise.
  25. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    That's okay because Jags and I most generally agree. this time is no exception.
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