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Newbie Wood splitting question!

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Johnnyguitars, Oct 15, 2009.

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  1. Johnnyguitars

    Johnnyguitars New Member

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    Ok, so a tree fell in my yard last Wed with all the heavy winds. It is a large 60 ft cherry. My landscapers cut it up into logs for me. some larger than others. They piled it all up for me also. My question is, when do I split the wood? Should I do it now or the spring. If I do it now will it be ready for next years burn season? I am also looking into a Stihl chainsaw and a log splitter. Can anyone recomend a decent one to me. Any info is greatly appreciated.

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  2. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    No reason to wait, I say split it now and it'll be ready for next season, cherry seasons pretty quick.

    You may want to post in the gear section on the saw and splitter. Look around you'll see what saws we like to use, your top 3 will be Stihl, Domlar and Husky in no particular order. I like the Stihl saws but have run a Husky or two and don't really have complaints on them. Have never touched a Domlar but they seem like a nice saw if you have a good local dealer for them. The Husky 22 ton splitter is a nice splitter at a reasonable price, I just seen an ad for them at TSC for 999.
  3. Birdman1

    Birdman1 New Member

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    +1

    The fellers on here learned me that cherry seasons pretty quick
    like all wood the faster you get it split the faster it will start drying for ya.

    +1 on the stihl saws also, but thats all I have ever had so I cant offer on the others.

    as far as a splitter, get what ever your finances allow, yer bones will thank you for it.
  4. Duetech

    Duetech Minister of Fire

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    +1 on the splitter. Before you buy though do a youtube search to see what's out there. Hyd.'s work good but there are some others out there that do the job faster though usually for more money. Saving for the faster models (even faster hyd.s) may be well worth the wait and extra cash in time saved and work done.
  5. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    This a one-shot deal or do you expect to be doing a lot of cutting and splitting every year? Makes no sense to me to buy a bunch of expensive equipment if you're only going to use it for one tree once every few years. Otherwise, rent the stuff you need for the occasions you need it. Takes a lot of those occasions to add up to the price of a good splitter. And get yourself a maul for the smaller stuff.
  6. drdoct

    drdoct Feeling the Heat

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    I agree with gyrfalcon.... If you are tired of paying for wood and have an idea of where you can find some that's scroungable then you should get into the processing part. If it's just a one time thing then just run to hd and pickup a cheap 6# maul and split away. Split everything now. Keep in mind if you do start processing wood, it will trash a small section of your yard. Lots of little pieces and sawdust combined with lots of wood around are usually unsightly. Doesn't have to be that way, but it is with me because I'm lazy and have just accepted it that way.

    As far as a saw goes... You should be able to find a nice MS280 or 310 for decent homeowner use. These use up to a 20" bar which really works well. I use a ms310 with a 14" bar and a 20" bar.

    Splitter... If you plan on getting the chainsaw then you'll want a splitter too. I'd look for a used one off craigslist or a cheap one with 10% at lowes or tractor supply. I found a used one for 500 which runs great and I wish I had gotten one much earlier.
  7. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    +2 . . . or would that be +3?

    Split now and you'll have it ready for next fall . . . besides I often find the black cherry that I split up around this way splits like a dream and smells nice too.

    I don't have any experience with Dolmars/Domlars (whatever they're called), but I have used Stihl and Husquvarnas . . . no preference either way . . . both are decent saws.

    Splitter . . . as others have said, you may want to wait and see if you're going to get into this full steam . . . otherwise just rent a splitter. If you opt to buy one, MTD (and their clones) and Huskee (available at Tractor Supply) are well regarded hydraulic splitters.
  8. maplewood

    maplewood Minister of Fire

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    Cut, split and stack now. Sooner is better than later. You'll be proud of your work all winter.
    Split with a 6 lb. maul. Get two wedges, too, for the tough pieces. Wear gloves. Split anything bigger than 4" diameter for sure (for drying and handling reasons).
    Rent a splitter if you must. You will get more done in a day, but I find splitting with a maul rewarding physically and mentally.
    Can't help you on a saw choice. I'm using a 25 year-old inherited saw. It goes, "vroom vroom", chips fly, wood is done - I'm happy. Dad keeps it sharp for me.
    Happy burning!
  9. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Johnny it sounds to me like you want to get into this wood burning and will do just fine.

    First realize that you do not have to have all the top of the line tools to begin with. A chain saw is always handsy and there are many on the market that will do fine. I've sawed with many over the years and at present have a Stihl MS 290 with a 16" bar. I have to say that so far it is the best saw I've ever had. I've considered buying another Stihl but a smaller ones. I like the easy-start they have on the smaller saws and they would be good for trimming or on small trees.

    As for splitting, the ideal is a hydraulic splitter that will split horizontally or vertically. Personally, I won't use one horizontally though because that requires you to pick up each piece to place it on the splitter where a vertical splitter I can split while sitting down and do not have to lift the logs; especially those heavy ones. On the size of the splitter, as of late it seems most folks think bigger is better....or faster. If one learns what he is doing, a 20 ton splitter is just about as fast and sometimes even faster! Ours is 20 ton and over the years we have found exactly one log that it would not split. I could have forced it but one log I was not worried about so just threw it on the brush pile.

    But there is an alternative to using a hydraulic splitter and that is using an axe, a sledge hammer with steel wedges or a splitting maul. I split for many years using only an axe. Tough stuff would require a sledge and wedge (or 2 or 3 wedges). Small logs can usually be split with one swing using a splitting maul. Those come in different weights. Heavier splits nice but also wears out the body about as fast.

    If you go that route, realize that splitting wood is a bit of an art which you will learn as you go. Just be very careful so nobody gets hurt.
  10. Johnnyguitars

    Johnnyguitars New Member

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    Great advice as always guys I appreciate that. I need a new saw anyway. I had an old Craftsman but never had much luck with them. As for the splitter, I am going to rent one for now and do some research over the winter. Another question. .... I have about 10 downed cherry trees that were pushed to the edge of my property about 3 to 4 yrs ago when I was building my backyard. Thos wood was never cut or split and has been out in the elements for all that time. Is this still good firewood? Or is it just rotten waterlogged crap? If its good it's a score. Let me know what you think.
  11. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    You won't know for sure on the downed trees until to cut one open. You may be able to salvage some if not most of the trees if they didn't absorb too much ground moisture. Depends why they went down too...I started cutting up what appeared to be a nice cherry tree that wa down all summer only to find it fell due to being rotten near the base...was also rotten about 1/4 way up the tree, but the rest looks good. Don't go by outward appearence either...I've recently cut into what appeared to be punky downed trees and found the interior wood to be great.
  12. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    I have a lot of wild black cherry on my lot.
    They rot standing. :)
    (first growth cherry declining, being overtaken by white pine and oak)
    (I inherited a reforestation project, found it was easier and cheaper to just let nature take it's course)
    I find the smaller branches rot / decay faster than the trunk, but then I have to keep cut and split cherry top-covered or it gets punky and full of fungi growth.

    you won't know until you cut some of it.
    ( the 3 year old logs)
    I have a pine log in my front yard that has been there since hurricane Bob. It was still fairly solid 5 years ago when I cut it to see if it was termites making the crunching sounds.
  13. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    I'm with you on the splitting. Because my stove is so small, I have to split most of the splits I get from my wood guy down further, and I really love doing it. Nothing like landing a really good square-on blow, hearing that whack and having the pieces flip right apart. Mebbe not so much fun in mid-summer, but exhilarating as hell on a cold snowy winter day.
  14. CTburning

    CTburning New Member

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    If it is just cheery you are splitting I wouldn't bother getting a splitter. What you think you want now will change quickly if you get the wood burning bug. I started off with a little Poulan saw and thought it was great. My hands hurt to the point I couldn't make a fist and I'm only 32! I thought it was normal. Then my buddy let me use his Husqavarna 455 Rancher. It was almost orgasmic cutting into a 24" oak trunk with that saw and a chisel tooth chain. I quickly went out and purchased the Jonsored version of the same saw and couldn't be happier. Get tools that are going to make your life easier but not break the bank. If you are only doing a cord or two a year I don't see the justification of buying a splitter. To each is own but I split for a half-hour here and there and enjoy the exercise.

    That cherry is most likely rotten if it has been in contact with the ground for very long. Better cut it up and salvage what you can.
  15. Got Wood

    Got Wood Minister of Fire

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    Another vote for cutting into those Cherry trees. My guess is there is alot of solid wood.
    As for the equipment, I would take your time making investments. Wood processing is hard work and not everyone likes it or has the time to invest. The equipment can certainly be costly depending on what you decide. Personally, I found that I love the work involved and patiently waiting for what I considered to be good deals to pop up and jumped on them (saw and splitter).
  16. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    as always, good advice all around. It's up to you, but the sooner you split anything, the better.

    I've got my years worth ready to go. I'm also making changes to my fireplace and the wood stove still isn't installed. Now I'm blocking part of my house off, so furnace heating should be more feasible for the main portion we are living in. Because of all of those things I don't really expect to even use 1/3 of my firewood.

    That's fine by me, though. it'll get used, and when it does it'll be more seasoned.

    My point is this:
    Cut then split ASAP then repeat until you have at least a year supply. When that year is sitting out back drying THEN you can do whatever you want, just as long as you slowly work towards about a two or three year collection.

    Because I'm not in the hurry I was in before, i can do all the chainsaw stuff this fall, and then throughout the winter I can do all the splitting. Right now I've almost got about 1/3 of the wood I need stacked in the rounds and I have the other 2/3rds waiting on me in the timber and at the neighbors. My current plan is to get as much as possible stacked all pretty and ready for me to start splitting when I'm ready. because I probably won't burn much this year, only some of it will be burnt next year, and the rest will be for 2011-2012. I consider that good. small steps are gonna get me to my three year supply plan, it's a nice feeling to see that wood sitting there.

    if you've ever been poor and didn't know how you were gonna feed yourself or pay your bills, then you understand the relaxing feeling you get when you start putting your paycheck into a bank account that has several hundred (or thousand) dollars in it. You understand the calm you feel not having to check your bank account before going to the grocery store. You understand the satisfaction of getting a paycheck and taking it to the bank on your next available Saturday instead of trying to get there ASAP.

    having a wood pile feels the same. It's nice to know I can go a few days without processing wood (but why would I?). It's nice to know that if I get sick, it's sitting back there for my wife to grab. heck, I have enough seasoned firewood that when i tried to burn a soggy pile of grass and weeds from the flower garden I didn't even flinch to throw some logs from my stack on it. Last year i wouldn't have even considered such a blasphemous waste of good firewood!
  17. Tony H

    Tony H New Member

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    I am with the others if you can split it now go ahead , also with the tools if you intend to do quite a bit of cutting and splitting get a good saw Stihl and Husqvarna are a couple of good brands available almost everywhere. Renting a splitter is a good idea if you get all the wood cut and stacked ready to split you can get alot done over the weekend. I also found that the knowledge gained splitting wood with a maul made using the splitter more productive , it sure helps alot knowing where to split the big pieces with the least effort .
    My first saw was a Poulan and was very possibly the worse purchase I have ever made.
  18. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I split wood with a maul, and it seems like a perfectly workable method to me - I don't see the need for a splitter unless you are trying to process a really large amount of wood. I have split about 6 cords this year, and most of the time wish I had more rounds left to split. Go out and split for a half hour a day - you'll get past the soreness in the first couple of days, and after that it is excercise.

    I'd go and give those piled up cherries a try. I bet at least some of the wood is still solid. if you find the stuff closest to the ground is soggy, try elevating it for a couple of weeks before you cut.
  19. countrybois

    countrybois Member

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    I'm guessing an MS260 with an 18 or 20 inch bar will do most of what you'd like. As far as the splitter, DON'T get one at the big box stores ( troy bilt, mtd, cub cadet...etc), they are literally junk compared to the Huskee, just go look at them, you can easily see the difference and they are the same money.
  20. derecskey

    derecskey New Member

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    Splitting with a maul is great for easy to split woods and small rounds (or even rounds up to say 20"). The big boys, anything with a crotch in it, anything down near the root crown, etc, are impossible to split for me.

    Call me stupid, but I never could figure out how to split with a sledge and wedges... they just don't seem to work for me. Perhaps I need a tutorial.
  21. quads

    quads Minister of Fire

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    Try it this way. Not saying this is the only way to do it, or the right way to do it, but it works for me. (200+ cord split with a maul in the last 40 years)

    Turn the round upside down (opposite from the way the tree grew). Split a crotch with one limb towards you and one away from you (both pointing at the ground because the round is upside down), so that when it splits you will end up with two pieces that both look like upside down "Y"s. Once the round is split in half like that, you can usually split it anyway you want. The first split is the hardest.

    If you do it different in the beginning, for instance try to split it right side up, you end up with chunks and a larger weird shaped piece that is almost impossible to split.

    I never use wedges. On the rare occasion that I run into a round or piece that I can't split with the maul, I leave it in the woods to rot. Only happens maybe twice a year or so.
  22. derecskey

    derecskey New Member

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    Ah but what do you do with 30" rounds?
  23. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    start at the edge and work around. every piece may be different, this certainly isn't the best order or the only order, just an example. it all depends on how big it is and how large you want your splits.

    Attached Files:

  24. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    Is it important to use the same colors when scribing the log?
  25. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    Yes, KC. Although other's might suggest crayola sidewalk chalk for their markings, I ALWAYS use sharpie brand permanent markers. What happens if you leave the round for a day and it rains? you'd never know where to pick back up at!!!!

    I am in no way affiliated with Sharpie brand markers and profit in no way by promoting them. Although, if more people buy them, then they will perhaps drop prices and I can buy more to sniff....I mean draw.
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