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Locust Again- Seasoning, Splitting

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Cluttermagnet, Aug 9, 2008.

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  1. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    I just scored a small Locust tree. On the ground, needs to be cut up and moved to my place for processing. It got knocked over by a bulldozer during a septic system repair. On the ground for maybe 3 months now. Probably about a quarter cord or less. Maybe ~10-12in dia trunk near the base. I don't know what species but probably Black Locust. No thorns.

    My questions- do I remember seeing comments that Locust is a relatively fast drying wood? How does it compare with, say, Poplar, which is real fast seasoning, and Oak, which wants a year or two?

    Also, how difficult is splitting?


    If it is Black Locust, I see that it has a very high heating value per cord:
    Wood Heat Value (BTU)

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  2. beagler7694

    beagler7694 New Member

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    Search for the thread "Locust questions". Good thread with lots of info on Locust. :)
  3. flewism

    flewism Member

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    Locust will take up to 2 years to season, and is easier to split green.
  4. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    Thanks, guys. The search post was interesting. I thought I remembered something like that. So Locust is real good, but wants a lot of time to season. Cut and split it ASAP. Well, this stuff is a little dry, but no matter...There is a bunch of Locust growing in this area. I will start watching for more opportunities.
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  6. beagler7694

    beagler7694 New Member

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    Good luck guys!! I had about 4 face three years ago that I split to sell. It was tough stuff to split by hand, shouldn't be to bad with a splitter. :)
  7. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Everyone that says locust is great fire wood advise that it season for 2 years. Personally I don't care for it...but if you got some for free and have the room to let it season then you have scored huge.
  8. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    After my first day working with that tree, I brought a small load home. I'll test split a few rounds with the maul tomorrow. Will have to take it slow, it's a 'problem' tree. Dozer left some of the thinner top branches in compression, so cutting those is a bit delicate. Also, it's rather brushy around the tree, slowing things down for clearing. But I'll carefully work through it all. I want this wood!

    I'm revising my estimate up a little. May be more than a quarter cord. The tree was over 24in at the base. Splits rather quickly, however, not much main trunk. Man, that wood is heavy! I'm still pretty sure this is locust. Kind of yellow with a darker, greenish brown core. Lots of BTU's in there, I bet. Definitely willing to wait for it to season. Meanwhile, there were enough dead branches that I'll get a chance to see some burn this fall.

    Edit: I also noticed earlier some split rounds where the heartwood had had a chance to dry out some. It seems to turn to a sort of rusty red color when that core wood gets drier.

    I'll be interested to hear how BeGreen made out splitting his cord and a half with his splitter. I'll bust a couple of test rounds with the maul later Sunday, just to see how this stuff is going to be. Will get more of it next week.
  9. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    I took a maul to a few rounds today. It split very easy, just popped apart. Very straight- grained. This is good news! I still have a lot of it to bring home.

    I'm still trying to positively ID this Locust. The wood in cross section has an outer ring of light brownish yellowish wood, and most of the core wood appears as a big, greenish yellow- browner darker area. But when you split it and look at the core wood sideways, it becomes a definite bright yellow amber color- yes, honey colored. Do I have Honey Locust? (The leaves are long gone, can’t ID it that way) BTW no thorns have been seen anywhere on this tree. It was growing in a grove of other Locust trees- positive ID (generic Locust) from the shape and number of leaves on them- and the trunk bark is identical.

    Here are some photo links. Sorry about the low quality- this is from an old Fuji 1.3mpix with no optical zoom. Had to take with the macro (closeup) lens setting. The round is about 6in dia.


    Locust Bark
    [​IMG]

    Locust Core Wood
    [​IMG]

    Locust Split
    [​IMG]


    The camera color rendition ain't all that great. By daylight, the core wood was more greenish yellowish brown, and the split showed a nice bright amber yellow color, much different color than the end view of the core. This stuff weathers down to where the core wood turns rust red. I have a piece off the same tree that looks like that. Looks like it has been painted a brownish red like an old barn or out building.
  10. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    Has anyone found a really good online tree identifier? "Really good" would mean that it had photos or good drawings of bark and core wood cross sections as well as the usual leaves and fruits illustrations. I found a few fair sites, but all they show is leaves, pretty much.
  11. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    Even though your white balance is out of whack, I was going to say that I though you have mulberry, not locust. Then I looked again and changed back to locust. Mulberry starts off mustard yellow, then turns red-brown pretty quickly. Black locust does turn from yellowish-green to brown, but less dramatically and more slowly. Their wood seems somewhat similar to me, although I don't know that they are closely related. That could be locust bark since it's a small piece, but on the main trunk at least black locust has thick furrowed bark, whereas mulberry is generally much thinner. It's definitely not honey locust, or at least it looks nothing like the one I split in the spring. That has thin flaky bark, white sapwood, and pinkish heartwood. The picture of split wood is all honey locust except the three vertical splits at bottom left. The pic of bigger stuff is all black locust except for the maple log at top left. I don't have any mulberry pics handy.

    Attached Files:

  12. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    Thanks, Discoinferno-
    Nice photos. My wood has bark that looks more like the top photo, but it has core wood that looks more like the bottom photo. In your top photo, I see all tan wood, no darker core wood. But in the bottom photo, your core wood looks more reddish or pinkish. Mine is a distinct honey amber, a really bright yellow viewed in daylight. My guess is still Honey Locust. I've been researching Locust trees on the internet. I have seen where there are domesticated varieties of Honey Locust which don't have those nasty thorns like you see on the native midwest variety. I will investigate Mulberry, but I'm pretty sure I'm dealing with Locust here. Anyway, this is more of an academic sort of inquiry. More important is just to get it all over to my place and split and stacked. BTW I saw one good internet tree site that says Locust needs 2 to 3 years to season good. Yikes!
  13. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    Bright yellow heartwood with obvious lighter sapwood says mulberry to me. (Or maybe osage orange, which I've never had any of.) Fresh split black locust is more green than yellow to my eyes, and I don't think I recall ever seeing a real sapwood/heartwood contrast in black locust. Googling suggests that the sapwood is generally less than an inch. Does the wood have a smell when split? BL and HL both have distinctive somewhat fruity smells, with HL the stronger and sweeter. Mulberry smells sort of like apple to me, but only when held up close. (What? Don't look at me like that!)

    The honey locust I showed was a thornless yard-tree variety, BTW.

    Black locust and mulberry I've never had problems with seasoning, even after just one year. One of the wood-characteristic lists out there has black locust at #2 behind ash for low green moisture content. The little honey locust I've had in the past took a full 2 years (sizzled after 1), but it was mostly small unsplit rounds which always take longer than split.
  14. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Yes ,you have black locust.
  15. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner! I'll second that. Great burning stuff, with high BTU. Season 1 yr+ to get the max out of it. Don't be afraid of leaving a few pieces a little "bigger". Good overnighter stuff.
  16. Henz

    Henz New Member

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    I burned some locust my second year. It was split and seasoning for about 7 months and it was bone dry when I started burning it. Burned super hot and I got a longer burntime than I thought I would. Stunk though. I wouldnt recomend burnign all of the locust at one time, I mixed mine with hard Maple and oak and some soft maple
  17. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    Hot dang! That's what I was hoping to hear. I'm pretty sure it's Locust. Got to be either Black or Honey Locust. Anyway, I'm real happy to know this stuff is going to give me good, hot fires in about 1-2 years after it's seasoned. I might try some real small splits late winter this year, but I don't have my hopes up. OTOH I'm also getting a lot of deadwood off the tree, and that I think will burn great this winter. I'm saving everything, for sure, right down to kindling size.

    Here's something I learned searching the internet. Locust tends to grow in groves. It is a fast grower. It likes to get started when a forest is just starting up. It outperforms the competition under those circumstances. It does not like to try to grow in established forest with other hardwoods dominant. Anyway, this lot is just loaded with Locust. It's fairly moist land. The headwaters of a river are on this 10 acre lot, in fact, in a marshy area. It is definitely the predominant tree there. Mostly open land around, that was traditional farmland.
  18. FireWalker

    FireWalker Feeling the Heat

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    Going into this winter I have 6 full cord of what I believe to be honey locust. My neighbor who is in the construction biz., offered it to me at the end of last summer and I chunked up 8 very full pickup (64 chevy fleetside with 8' bed) loads which then sat covered over the winter. Come spring I split (with splitter) all of it and left it heaped and uncovered until mid July. All of it is now under cover waiting for cold weather.
    I have never gone into winter with only one species and I have never burned locust. Early last winter I split a weeks worth and brought it into the basement to dry. After a month it was dry and I was suprised at how light it was! Compared to the red oak I was burning it seemed like balsa wood. It did burn well and when it turns to coal it retains its shape and then just goes to ash unlike oak that falls apart and kind of spreads out.
    I also had difficulty identifing species, locust was a given because of the leaves. All of the trees I took were straight and ranged from 12" to 16" dia. I understand some groves are less thorny than others, these were not very thorny at all. The saw chips were flourescent yellow/green and it cut easily with sharp saw. I was suprised at how heavy it was green compared to those sticks I dried in the basement. I'll bet the moisture content from being stored on a concrete floor in a dehumidified basement was very low thus the extreme light weight.
    Anyway, I have a whole seasons worth of it and if it dosn't work well I'm screwed!
  19. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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  20. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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  21. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    I don't know. From what I hear, it would not be good as fireplace wood, but quite satisfactory in a good, hot firebox like in an EPA stove. Some advise mixing it in with other hardwoods. Some mention that it is hard to get it going, fine after a good bed of coals is present. You might want to look for just a little Oak or whatever to mix in. I'd appreciate very much hearing how you are doing with it, once you are well into the heating season.
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