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Speed up seasoning of small oak splits

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by ddahlgren, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Wow!!!!!

    First is the mention of splitting on the ends. When the ends start to crack, all that tells you is that the surface on the ends have dried. It tells you nothing about the interior of that log.

    It is really amazing especially with you being an engineer that you've "reasoned" out your theory on the wood with the dry wood soaking up the moisture from the wet wood. Sorry, that is not going to happen. Where the moisture goes when it leaves the green or wet wood is right straight into the air. Wood is not a sponge! The only time wood will soak up moisture is if it is in constant or near constant water or else if it is punky. So that 6 month oak will release moisture but it will not go into your dry wood.

    Ah, but let's think about floors and doors and furniture etc. This sounds just like a fellow who came to my place and we were talking about a wood pile of ours (this was in the fall of the year). He asked about shrinkage and I freely told him what had happened and how much it had shrank. It is normal. Then he commenced to tell me that by the following spring, the wood pile would be right back to where it had started when stacked. I said, "What?!" Then he brought up about the wood doors and floors etc which we all have witnessed. Well, I am not too smart so I agreed that we would measure that wood pile again and then measure it the following spring. This should tell the difference. We did measure and as expected, that wood pile shrank more. I actually measured it a few times over the winter and early spring. It never increased. It is not a sponge!

    Same thing with the damp towel and green wood. Hold a damp towel next to the wood. The towel will dry, but that moisture is going into the air; not the wood.


    Finally, you mentioned that wood might be okay next year. Good luck. Around here we will not burn oak until it has been split and stacked....out in the wind, for 3 years.


    Be sure you check your chimney monthly and clean as necessary. Especially now that you've attempted to burn this green oak.
    oldspark likes this.

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  2. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Mine is trash too. Before we broke down and bought our hydraulics I split wood with a sledge hammer (6 lb) and wedges. It was slow going because I could not swing the hammer. I simply sat on one log and tapped the wedge with the sledge so there was not too much pain. It worked!
  3. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Worth a try anyway. Pick the shortest split you've got that has no knots in it. Sit down not too low, stand the split on one end, give the hatchet a little whack so it just sticks in the top end of the split. Then if you're me, switch hands so the hammer is in your dominant hand and your non-dominant hand is holding the hatchet handle and whang the hammer down on the top of the hatchet. (It helps if you can press the hatchet down against the wood by the handle as you do this.) It'll take a few blows, but with a straight-grained not too dense wood like red oak or ash or even rock maple that's not too thick, you should be able to get it to split apart. Red Oak is generally easy-peasey to split without too much effort.

    Oh, and keep your back straight while you do all this. :)

    A heavier hammer or a hand-held sledge (mebbe 6 pounds, I think?) would be better. If there's a hardware or other store you can get to that carries even a small selection of this kind of tool, you can go see how heavy a tool you can heft without hurting yourself, and then find the specific thing you need on the Internet if the store doesn't carry it. Mauls are all labeled, for instance, with their weight, and you can hold it up near the head to see approximately how heavy a hand sledgehammer of the same weight would feel.

    When I first started burning and knew zippo about anything, I split down 14-16-inch splits that were too thick for my little stove this way for most of a winter. Gnarly beech gave me some trouble, but otherwise it was manageable. The next year I got a maul, and the year after that a nice splitting axe, and now also have an electric splitter for the really tough stuff, and I laugh at what I put myself through that first year.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  4. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    It was a different brand that I tried, but they burn like the dickens, so definitely start small with those until you get a feel for how they burn. I dunno if you ever want to burn a big load of bricks. The mfrs say that the bricks are twice as dense as hardwood. . .or somesuch, so in theory, bricks could allow you to load the stove with 2x the BTU's it was meant to burn.

    If you have back problems, I think you should just get a lil' 'lectric splitter for ~ $300.

    http://www.tractorsupply.com/log-splitters/speeco-5-ton-electric-log-splitter-2152594

    http://www.amazon.com/Woodeze-4-Ton...6?s=lawn-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1359172581&sr=1-6

  5. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Love the lil Woodeze, but it's kind of overkill if all he needs to do is split a split once in a while to see what the moisture reading is. ;-}
  6. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    3 year old wood might be nice but I have no place for having 3 piles of wood 8 x 16 x 4 feet tall to have the 4 cords a year I would burn in this little stove. There is not that much flat land on the lot to begin with and if there was there is no way the town would put up with it. possibly I need to keep my eyes open for a good used pellet stove or switch over to Eco-bricks as a primary fuel with some wood every now and then. The zoning where I live is very strict and all it takes is one person driving by that considers it an eye sore and life gets complicated quick.

    Edit update...
    Tried 2 Eco-bricks and can only get the stove top to 400 when I close the air down they seem to just burn slower and not release much more heat. next try will be with 4. or try a split mixed in with them so there are some coals left for a relight.
  7. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    I sympathize on the wood storage. I'm way out in the country where wood-burning is the norm, but I also have almost no flat areas on my property and after several years of trying have essentially given up on buying green wood and stacking it out to dry for a few years. I don't mind stacking a few cords of wood, but not when I have to do it over and over and over again because the stacks fall over repeatedly with the uneven heaving and sinking of the earth underneath them over the seasons.

    Have you looked around for a place that does kiln-dried firewood in your area? I'm not talking about that super-dried stuff sold in bundles, but a place that knows what it's doing. I have two in my area, one a big lumber yard that started doing firewood a few years ago when the bottom fell out of the construction industry in the recession, and another smaller chimney-cleaning company that saw there was a market and set up its own operation. Both dry their wood to around 20 percent moisture. The small company charges not much more than people around here charge for "seasoned" -- ie, cut down in spring for fall delivery, meaning not much better than green.

    Another alternative is just to buy faster-drying wood, like ash and even rock maple (sugar maple).
  8. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks for the ideas no one does the dried stuff locally other than the very dry stuff and per btu delivered to the house it is within a fraction of fuel oil and still has all the stacking and cleaning duties so actually sort of a loser other than the house is warmer. I will pick through what i have for the smallest splits that read low on the meter and keep them near the stove for a few days and try mixing them in with either Eco-bricks or the nice splits i have kept back for the bitter cold nights. i need to call the friend that reccomend this guy and see how she burns it and when she buys it etc.
    dave
  9. The Blackheathburner

    The Blackheathburner New Member

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    Stick it next to the fire that will dry it out in no time.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Maintaining a safe distance of course. If you can bring the smaller splits into a heated space they will dry out quicker. If you can stack them and then put a fan blowing thru the stack, even better.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  11. bluedogz

    bluedogz Minister of Fire

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    That worked in high school chemistry, but not sure it applies to firewood...
  12. The Blackheathburner

    The Blackheathburner New Member

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    Has anyone tried holm oak
  13. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    In all due respect please explain to me why it will not. Explain the part where wood does not absorb and release moisture. If possible please use numbers and facts and not opinions. I am not trying to some sort of wise guy and certainly do not know it all especially about firewood but do know it makes sense and the moisture meter says it happened. If there are reasons it can't happen great but help me with what I measured.
    Dave
  14. Oldhippie

    Oldhippie Minister of Fire

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    I don't buy it either. I just don't see moisture content transferring itself across various splits in a pile. I don't think it's like electrons flowing from one valence shell to the next, or anything like that. The wood may be physically touching each other but I don't see and in thirty years of wood burning have never experienced, cut/split wood gaining moisture until it hits the rotting stage.
  15. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Dave, with all due respect, that MM did not say it happened. You admitted yourself that you did not make a fresh split before using the meter. That wood has to be split again and read right away. If you wait, again you will get a false reading. In addition, you have to make sure you stay in the same grain and not cross-grain.

    I won't give you any number nor will I bore myself looking them up. What I am going by is well over 50 years of doing this stuff. I still have much to learn but some things just do not change.

    If you don't have the space to store the wood then for sure you never want to get oak.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  16. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Dave, if you were measuring the moisture without splitting the wood and measuring on the interior, all your moisture meter was picking up was the slight change in moisture on the outer 10th of an inch or so. That does change, for instance, when it gets rained on for a day or so. But it dries out again almost immediately. I suppose it's possible your green wood is outgassing onto the very outermost layer of the dry wood, but it just plain physically can't go any farther than that. Bring a couple pieces of that "poisoned" dry wood inside next to the stove for a couple hours and measure them again on the outside.

    We used to have a guy here named Battenkiller who was an expert on all this, an instrument-maker if I recall, and had all the facts and figures, some from his own experiments with such things, but he left us when he had to move to a place without a woodstove. You could try browsing his old posts here.
  17. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    The moisture content of unseasoned wood is much much higher than that of the surrounding air so any moisture lost will be given up to the air. I understand that dried wood like flooring etc may acclimate a little depending on ambient humidity but that is fractional compared to an oak split containing 35-38% moisture.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  18. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    Fair enough experience wins. I was up front and said i was no expert on wood but only what a moisture meter tells me. so lacking a lot of time the answer is to see if it looks good measures good split a piece and measure? Are you guys saying I measure parallel to the grain or between the grains? If I hold a piece in front of me with end grain going left right do the probes go left right or up down?
  19. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    Split the wood length wise then measure with the MM parallel to the grain. This should be done pretty soon after you split and push the teeth in well, not crazy hard but good and firm.
  20. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    Ok it is stacked well some of it about 20 splits 5 ft from the stove like a kindling fire in a square pattern with a fan blowing across the stove on to the wood then into the rest of the house. I will have to pick up a wedge and maul then check in a week. What i really need is a wood supplier that delivers to SE CT and has real aged wood to stay clear of the zoning Nazis..
  21. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    Yeah that's the tough part. You have any garage space to store kiln dried wood? I'd avoid storing unseasoned anywhere in the house. Or a wood shed, they usually look good and ought to keep the town happy.
  22. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Parallel to the grain. If you're holding the piece parallel to the floor the long way, the probes go left/right.

    Also, what jatoxico says about getting the probes in. I use a small hand awl to make the holes deeper than I can with the mm's probes, which on my cheapo are flimsly enough that I don't want to put too much pressure on them.
  23. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    The Corvette sleeps in the garage unless there is a high end race car that needs to be fixed it is what I do for a living or sorts for the last 20 years for myself and 20 years before that for other companies. Adding any structures would involve historic district planing and zoning and possible zoning variences so 6 months more or less. I so need to move and selling a house with 4 cords stacked outside is a minus and not a plus at times.
  24. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Very rare to find that kind of wood supplier, no matter what they say about their "seasoned wood." It's just not practical for the vast majority of wood suppliers to keep vast numbers of cords of wood of various lengths stacked for years on their property. I've seen and heard of one or two, but it's not common and they charge a lot more for the wood.

    Bear in mind that if you go pellets, you'll need to store a couple tons of 40-pound bags somewhere under cover, too. I'm not sure hauling 40-pound bags and lifting them up to pour in the hopper is something you want to do with a bad back.

    jatoxico also has a good thought about building a handsome woodshed. Open on three sides but with a roof, the wood will season in there but it'll look really nice.
  25. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Well, before you give up on the idea, doublecheck what counts as a "structure" and see if you can go through the records and find somebody else who did a woodshed. I would think a nicely done woodshed would add to, rather than detract from, the "historic" nature of the neighborhood.

    Somewhere on this site there's a whole collection of pix of people's woodsheds, and most of them are elegant as hell, even if simple to construct.

    Come move to VT. We're a hell of a lot more relaxed about all this stuff than tony Connecticut, and a lot of the farmhouses down the road are "historic" structures. ;-)

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