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Is this elm? It's not so bad...

Post in 'The Inglenook' started by DiscoInferno, Dec 16, 2006.

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  1. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    I scored a good scrounge today from freecycle: white oak, bradford pear, and what the homeowner said was elm. I got two Ranger loads today (about 1/3 cord each), and will bring the saw tomorrow for the bigger stuff. Maybe 1.5 cords total. I had thought I had never split elm, but apparently I have; if the two closeups are indeed elm, then I've had some of that before. I'll never forget that foul barnyard smell from the heartwood, and it is a bit stringy. Still, it's not that bad to split; the sapwood flakes off ok, and the heartwood eventually submits to my 6-ish pound "super splitter" (splitting axe with wings).

    Now, if it would just get cold so I can burn some wood and make room to stack this wood. Time to start a fifth stack I guess. The neighbors think I'm nuts, as always.

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  2. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    That sure looks like elm. There are male and female trees and one is MUCH harder to split than the other.

    There have been times where I've hit a 4" diameter peice of elm 16" long 20 times with a 6 lb maul and it still didn't split.

    While maybe not the most powerful guy around, I do have 11+ cords in the yard I split by hand and there's a good 3 cords of that is elm, so I'm pretty confident of my splitting ability...Elm is among the nastiest stuff to split. Yes I've had odd peices of apple and red oak that are nasty, and some green pine that was just awful, but with elm, it may crack after 3 or 4 hits, but then you have to cut your way through those fibers, and they hang on for dear life.

    BUT...it sure burns good and heats well.
  3. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    I certainly don't wish to challenge anyone's wood-splitting prowess! :coolsmile: My elm sample is still quite small, as it is not a common tree in these parts.

    Wikipedia says that American Elm (which I thought this was) is hermaphroditic. Still, I'm sure there is a lot a variation between trees; I've had some white oak, for example, that was simple to split, and some that was simply unsplittable by (my) hand due to a "braided" grain.

    I wonder if elm splits better with a more axe-like implement with some edge, rather than a blunt maul? Once the round starts to separate, an edge might cut the fibers better. My main problem is thinking that the fibers are just about to give and letting up on the swing, thus ensuring at least one more swing. On the other hand, if I swing full and it was only held together by one fiber, then I get to chase the split into the neighbor's yard. Need to find an old tire.
  4. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    You weren't challenging...no worries. I was just pointing out that I've split a lot and there is no doubt that elm is hard to split.

    The one tool that seems to work well is the wood grenade. Also, I've found that elm splits better when temps are below freezing.
  5. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    I recognize those fibers anywhere! ELM! What a miserable, foul smelling wood (it kind of reminds me of a freshly opened can of salmon...being in Kansas, that is a foul smell) I think the dryness also seems to help splitting. I'm working through a tree of it right now. Several pieces are pretty well seasoned and they seem to split OK, but the green stuff from the middle of the trunk just shreds into hundreds of little strings with each one gripping the sides of the log together. One of the few times I have to run my splitter to the very end of the stroke and still fight a little to get the log apart.

    Corey
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