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Fairbanks: split, or not?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by jklingel, Jun 21, 2009.

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  1. jklingel

    jklingel Feeling the Heat

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    Fairbanks
    A ?? for other Fairbanks wood burners (or others in fairly dry climates): Do you really NEED to split birch if it is cut to 40" lengths and stacked/covered w/ a tarp? It seems that the stuff I cut last year and stacked in lengths up to 4' is all cracked and dry looking. A friend said you don't need to split birch unless it is over 12 to 14" in diam. I'd sure like to avoid building a log splitter, and I understand that wood dries 90% through the ends (xylem and phloem just do their thing, cut down or not). My wood will be sitting for at least 2 yrs before I burn it, and burning rounds in the boiler will be no problemo..... if it is dry. What about the aspen that I have? Is it a lot wetter, so that it needs splitting? Thanks. I have no experience w/ wood and don't want the several chords I have stacked to all rot from the inside out. Thanks. john

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  2. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I think I'd split the larger stuff. Lots of people split wood without a splitter, including myself, so I don't think you need a splitter. A six or eight pound maul, available anywhere, does a pretty nice job and will make short work of most birch and aspen. If you have tough pieces, crotches, Ys, etc., leave them unsplit and split the easier straight pieces. Birch is known for drying poorly with the bark intact, and that is what I'd be worried about. I think Aspen may have the same problem at times. Fairbanks is very dry, especially in winter, but there is no harm having your wood dry a little better by splitting it. On the other hand, if you are cutting 40 inch wood, it will be harder to split than I am used to with my 16 inch lengths. Give it a try and you'll know what you're up against.
  3. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    With Birch, I will always split everything that can be split, right down to around 2 inches. Birch doesn't really dry well through the end grain. Pieces 4 inches or smaller have thinner bark and will eventually dry even without splitting.
  4. jklingel

    jklingel Feeling the Heat

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    Sounds good; thanks for the replies. I have split a little bit of birch, and it does not seem too tough. If I am going to split 40" stuff, I'll try it, but will probably cut it to 20" after a few attempts. The gnarly stuff will get left alone or hit w/ the chain saw. I was hoping that I could leave most of it as is, but it sounds like I better get at least the stuff over 6-8" split. No rest for the wicked, I guess. j
  5. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    You are right about birch splitting fairly easy and the aspen shouldn't be bad either. I too would split it even in your dry climate. Simply put; you get more heat from dry wood than you do from half dry wood. Therefore, you end up saving work in the long run and you are able to keep your home warmer with less fiddling with the stove.
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