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Hardest Wood to Split by Hand???

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by iod0816, Apr 3, 2011.

?

Hardest Wood to Split by Hand? 6 Months or less bucked to 18" for those who want.

  1. Oak (any)

    9.8%
  2. Hickory

    5.4%
  3. Black Birch

    2.2%
  4. Beech

    57.6%
  5. Other (post the other)

    25.0%
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  1. Realstone

    Realstone Lord of Fire

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    Southern ON
    Any yardbird. I'd like to know why trees out in the open grow so knarly.

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  2. Realstone

    Realstone Lord of Fire

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    Have you noodled one in half and tried splitting that?
  3. scroungerjeff

    scroungerjeff Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
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    Loc:
    S Jersey
    Not much experience with elm, but sweet gum is evil. I have learned to let the ants and termites have it right where it falls.
  4. Plow Boy

    Plow Boy Member

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    Iron Station, NC
    yeah, if its got the spikey balls its definetly sweet gum. and it is no fun to split, u pretty much need a splitter and u are going to have a mess after your through.
  5. OhioBurner©

    OhioBurner© Minister of Fire

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    Central Ohio
    I have a few of the larger pieces at the base that I bucked to only 12" that I managed to get some good chuncks split off, not quite 'in half' but close. And I still struggle to get anything more than kindling chips off it lol.

    I might try to noodle some of the more straight-grained rounds to see if I can atleast get those with the fiskars after noodling. But anything I have left over now that will fit through the stove door of my old stove I am just going to try burning whole.
  6. formula_pilot

    formula_pilot Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2010
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    Loc:
    New England -CT New Haven County
    Elm is the worst- the Fiskars axe and my heaviest maul just bounce off many of the rounds. It burys a wedge, then a 2nd wedge, now how to you noodle without killing the chain? Just not worth trying to split that kind of stuff by hand, at least not the elm around my area. Because of a load of elm we scrounged, I finally broke down and rented a splitter, using hydraulics just once spoiled me....
    JRJ likes this.
  7. tymbee

    tymbee Member

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    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    62% as I read this say "Beech". Really?! Must be a different species than the American Beech we have around here that's not difficult at all to split. But as others have noted, the hardest by far IMO is not on the list-- ELM. Sweetgum can indeed be nasty stuff, but you can work your way through it.

    Elm on the other hand is pure evil. When you to to pick up your splitting maul near a fresh cut piece of elm, if it's realy quiet out and you listen carefully, you can hear it smirking. If it knows somehow this is your first experience with elm (don't ask me how it knows) the smirk becomes a giggle. That's just it's sadistic nature.

  8. NWfuel

    NWfuel Minister of Fire

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    I have to vote for dry Madrone. We do not get much harwood around here to compare with.
    Thomas
  9. onetracker

    onetracker Minister of Fire

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    the ash tree that we dropped near my wife's studio :)

    seriously. that sucker was full of knots and pins and simply did not want to split. i've also had some cherry and plenty of gnarled oak and maple that demoralized me. i'm talking sledges and wedges and lots of profanity.

    my point here is that i've had individual trees of most species that were a bear to split. i never assume that a given species is going to easy. i'm just hopeful...

    officially tho my vote is green american elm.
  10. albert1029

    albert1029 Feeling the Heat

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    Southwestern PA
    by my experience elm is the toughest to split in comparison to black locust, cherry and maple that I process...even working around the edges...
  11. Realstone

    Realstone Lord of Fire

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    Southern ON
    Any old yardbird is going to be tough to split. Sugar maple usually will pop open with a hard swing, but I've got near a full cord of uglies from one branch of a maple.
  12. tymbee

    tymbee Member

    Joined:
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    Upstate NY
    A very good point. You sometimes encounter a tree that just refuses to play by the "rules" for that species. It just doesn't know it's supposed to be easy to split...
  13. kd460

    kd460 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
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    personal experience has been elm and locust. Bought a hyd. splitter for those two reasons
  14. Insomnivore

    Insomnivore New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    CT
    Apple.

    I regularly get some some very old trees blown down in the orchard next door that I offer to take. It's really pretty wood but...

    Hate it and love it. The hate: Almost unsplittable by hand and even fights with my hydraulic unit. Never more than 18" of straight wood: it's always twisting and turning. The love: Once it seasons and I'm feeding it into the stove in Dec/Jan I forget about how much it resisted me. As good as oak as far as heat goes plus I understand it smells good although that would be something for my downwind neighbors to comment on. I couldn't care less about smell. I should save some scraps for smoking meats on the grill in the summer sometime.
  15. lctatlp

    lctatlp Member

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    Oct 6, 2011
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    Loc:
    North Shore, MA
    Elm. By far the most difficult to split.

    I've split locust as well but elm is a killer.
  16. Hickorynut

    Hickorynut Burning Hunk

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    Jan 10, 2012
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    Loc:
    western ky.
    American elm is the worst I have split. Sweet gum is second. I have split several up to 24" elms green back in my younger days by hand. Kerf with saw and up to three wedges used. Not any more.
    blujacket likes this.
  17. blujacket

    blujacket Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    West Carrollton,Ohio
    American Elm
  18. MnDave

    MnDave Guest

    We don't have beech around here but I have heard that it is "stringy".

    We do have red elm and that is very stringy and tough. Stringy is when the pieces are basically split but a whole gang of fibers still connect the pieces.

    Takes three times as many whacks too.

    MnDave
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