help with splitting big oak logs

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by kjolsen, Mar 16, 2009.

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  1. Hurricane

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    Use those shorter splits for the east west loads.
    I have taken a round that refused to split and cut it in half then it splits quite easily.
     
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  2. myzamboni

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    Here is an example of the oak 'burl' the splitter helped with:
     

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  3. jotul8e2

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    A contrarian view here...

    I never saw any kind of oak with bark like that. Some kind of beech maybe?

    Last week I split a bunch of oak and hickory rounds about that same diameter and 20-22 inches long using my Stihl 6.6 lb. maul. Unlike many here, I seldom nibble around the edges - it just does not work for me very often. Nor do I use wedges - because I hate using wedges, that's why! And, being an eternal optimist, I usually give at least one good whack right in the center. If that does not work, I'll give it a go about 1/4 of the way across, then another directly opposite. If that fails, then a chainsaw cut of 8" or so will almost always do the trick. Oh, and split from the butt end.

    For those that can swing a 10 lb. maul, go for it. I can't. I just cannot get sufficient head speed after a few rounds. The Stihl maul is light enough for me to swing good and fast for several hours. Remeber, Force=mass X velocity. A heavy maul has little impact if you cannot put any speed on it.

    And my way isn't the best, except for me. I've worked with guys who could take a double bit ax, two wedges, a 10 lb. sledge hammer and turn those rounds into kindling in an amazing short time.

    Mark
     
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  4. NoPaint

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    Man I had some red oak like that. Real big at the base and unsplitable. I rented a splitter that would go vertical and just twisted them under it. The splitter made short work of everything. The problem with the logs are that they are going to be real stringy when split. Its gonna be a bear to do by hand but the splitter will get it apart enough to avoid the stringyness.
     
  5. Chief Ryan

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    I knew i'd yelled at... :red:
     
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  6. Chief Ryan

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    I knew i'd GET yelled at... :)
     
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  7. madrone

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    The red oak in my front yard has bark exactly like the stuff pictured, but only on the branches. They're huge branches, though. The trunk is very creased. If these are trunk sections, I'd suspect maple.
     
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  8. lexybird

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    good advise ,sometimes the easy way is the best way
     
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  9. Wet1

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    The bark in the pic from the first post certainly doesn't look like any red oak I've ever seen either... Branches yes, but not a trunk of that size. If it is red oak, it can be some of the easiest splitting wood there is. Based on the picture and having issues splitting it, I would be very surprised if that is truly red oak.
     
  10. madrone

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    OK, so, not to deny the possibility that it's not red oak, but the tree in my yard has branches easily as large as the ones pictured, with similar bark, and it's indeed a red oak. Additionally, I've had trouble splitting oak at that size, even with sharp wedges. There may be a difference in species from west to east. Without seeing a close-up of the grain, we won't be able to tell from a picture on the net, but I'd say it could very well be red oak.
     
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  11. mountaineer79

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    Actually Force = mass X acceleration. Momentum = mass X velocity

    Most of the larger red oak I've split has been pretty tough. I can usually break it up with one or two hits, but it's kind of stringy (like elm, but not nearly as bad), so it still tries to hold together even after you get a split started.

    I agree with the guys that say that doesn't look like red oak. It looks like beech to me.
     
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  12. jotul8e2

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    Yes, of course it is. f=ma. What did I write, velocity? Fortunately for me that pop quiz was almost 40 years ago. Of course, in school today my answer might well be considered correct as well, so long as I feel good about it.

    Mark
     
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  13. basswidow

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    I am new to splitting wood.

    My brother dropped 5 big oaks in his yard last september and they are cut into firewood sized rounds. They are big - bigger then the ones pictured. Some - almost 3 feet across.

    So we went at them with the sledge and wedge yesterday. These logs have already started to have some cracks in them (like a plus+ sign in the center), so my brother would put the wedge into an existing split (near the center) and start to sledge away. The wedge would go in - but usually popped out and was not splitting the round.

    I told him, I had learned here to start the wedge near the edge. He's convinced to start in the middle and on the existing cracks. So after he gets worn out a bit, I put the wedge about an inch or two in from the edge of the round and at an angle so that the wedge was drawing a line to the dead center of the round. A few easy swings and the round split just fine - piece of cake. Then I did the same for the two halves. Now it's split 4 ways even. Out comes the maul and it's was easy work - just like the slap chop.

    Perhaps my sledge and wedge went easier since the rounds were cut last fall?

    One hour and my pick up was stacked full and the wheels almost touch the wells! That oak is heavy. But I am glad to have it split - I hope to get all of it.
     
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  14. mountaineer79

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    Sorry I'm a mechanical engineer, so I couldn't resist even though it didn't have anything to do with the thread.
     
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  15. Adios Pantalones

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    Put me in with the "that aint red oak" crowd. You would have an easier time with it if it was red oak, I bet. Fresh red oak splits pretty easy unless it's huge or has lots of branches.
     
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  16. kjolsen

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    Thanks for everyone with the help they've provided. I've been able to go at some of the large rounds with a small wedge. Once the wedge gets some purchase, they split easily (unless there's a knot or branch stub). It's still a job to get the wedge in, though.

    Maybe my logs are pin oak? Not sure of the difference between red and pin. Any difference in terms of their burnability or splittability?
     
  17. Wet1

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    Red and pin oak are very similar.
     
  18. TreePapa

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    At an angle vertically so the head sticks out toward the edge of the round? or hortizontally? How much of an angle ?

    I'm only asking 'cuz I've always tried to split with wedge(s) like your brother did, with about the same results (lots of effort to split smaller rounds).

    Thanks,

    Peace,
    - Sequoia
     
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  19. basswidow

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    Tree papa ,

    this is my first wedge splitting ever - so I am totally a rookie. Love this site for taking years off the learning curve. I may be doing it wrong - but it sure worked well. So much better then placing the wedge center or midway in a crack.

    If you look at a round, place an X dead center of the round. Place the wedge on one of the X lines about an inch or so from the outside edge of the round with the cutting blade of the wedge in line with the line of the X so it's pointing toward center.

    When I did this - the rounds split perfectly in half. Then I repeated this to the half's and made quarters. Then was able to lift these pieces and maul split them.

    Putting the wedge dead center or in an existing crack in the middle somewhere - never seemed to work and the wedge would bite but eventually would pop out.

    I can't do it now, but I will try and post pictures. I would imagine somewhere in the archives - someone has already posted pictures on placing a wedge to split large rounds.

    It's given me confidence to go after large wood.
     
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  20. billb3

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    There are an awful lot of red oak varieties.

    bark is too smooth and grain much too big for any around here.
    Eas Coast / Massachusetts
    I've just split almost a cord of a red oak that came down in my driveway last Fall (just getting the last of it cut up)
    and used just wedges and a 10 pound maul.
    No more roundhousing a splitter maul for me.
    I try not to roundhouse the maul, too, but sometimes I get a good easy pop that way.
    I have the best luck starting at the edge, too, but I'll try to keep the whole round 'together' with 16 to 24 splits to pull apart all at once. (less bending over) :)
    Hey, splitting by hand is boring.
     
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