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Split size

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by soxfan13, Oct 24, 2008.

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  1. soxfan13

    soxfan13 Member

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    Large....Medium....small...Everyone uses it in posts to describe the wood but.....What measurements are in each category? I am just wondering if I am splitting my wood to big/small.

    Thanks

    Anyone use unsplit or do you split everything?

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  2. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    I split wood according to the size of my stove. My stove is a tiny POS so my firewood must be cut short a split small. When I cut wood for my parents I leave it pretty fat because they have a huge insert. If you have a big firebox, cut it big. If you have a small stove, cut it small. There is no universal ideal.
  3. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    I split any hardwood round bigger than my forearm for drying purposes. I find that splitting helps drying quite a bit: it's about both the size of the final piece as well as breaking through the rings and getting past the bark so that if I have a chunk that's the size of my forearm that's already split- I won't split again.
  4. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    Bigger isn't always better.

    Pulling a split that just about fit through the door back out at 6AM partially charred is not fun.

    Even with a big firebox and even a regular old fireplace different sizes come in handy.


    I always have liked being able to fit 5 or 6 of what I've got, so maybe shoot for that.
    Anything bigger than 5 or 6 I can have troubles with sometimes.

    I don't know what I'd call too small. Unnecessarily small would be shingles.
  5. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    All depends on what your stove is, and what you expect of it. There is no right or wrong here. I keep a lot of large, unsplit wood around. Mostly for extreme cold weather - like when it's 20 or 30 below F outside. When it gets that cold - if I stuff my wood furnace full of heavily-split wood, it almost burns out by morning. On the other hand, if I stick in large unsplit, it easily holds a fire overnight, and then some, and also makes a nice bank of coals. I like unsplit 10" or 12" when it's real cold. To the converse, on "cool" days like today - it was 18 plus F this morning, and is 40 something now. A large upsplit piece of wood now would just smolder. It's not cold enough out to make really good chimney draft. So, I'm using split or small pieces and it burns fine.

    I'll also add, if your wood is still moist - you might need to split it lot just to get it to dry faster. Big hardwood unsplit rounds take a long time to dry.
  6. Shipper50

    Shipper50 Minister of Fire

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    I split my wood small to dry faster, but if I had 1-2 years to dry my wood I would leave it bigger. I just bought about 2 cords of oak and cherry from a farmer who asked me why I split my wood so small as he and his son split by hand and they leave there stuff in quarters.

    I resplit the wood from him to make sure it was dry for this winter, but would leave it as he split it if I had a year or 2 to season it.

    Shipper
  7. akhilljack

    akhilljack New Member

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    i live in faribanks ak where mosly birch and spruce are burnned. birch is like gold here, sold for about 4-500 dollars per cord cut to length. birch burns much hotter and longer than spruce and douglas fir which are the better choices around here. i think you may all be spoiled by loads of tall fat hardwoods. i like birch because most doesnt need splitting as the average tree size at the trunk is maybe 5 to 6 inches leaving most higher pieces about 4 or less inches thick. it burnes even longer that way than regular split birch, which is good for when you are at work or at night. spruce is much bigger which helps for trying to dry out wood fast by being able to split it in to small pieces but evergreens are generaly full of sap and take a while to season properly with bigg splits. evergreens also burn a lot faster then birch here. all wood burns it just depends on what you are willing to do to burn it even wet wood. i dont care personaly if i have to clean my chimney 1 or 2 more times per year because i do it myself and would do it any way for piece of mind. i also dont lite my fire and let it burn like crazy and leave the house. i would say my typical burn every day involves me throwing about 3 or 4 pieces of small kindling to get things going follwed by a smaller split of spruce to get things going. then i put more fast burning spruce and fir on until i get it to about 500-550 then i throw a piece of birch on and after a few minutes damper down to about 1/4-1/2 on the air setting. i use about 1 log every 3 hours give or take and put in 3 at night which last long enough to lite it back up by blowing on it with a billow in the morning before work. you realy burn wqhat you have to even though it may be a little more trendy to burn hardwoods al the time. it all works just fine.
  8. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    If that farmer is anything like many in my area, he's using an outdoor wood furnace with forced draft. That sort of setup will burn just about anything, anytime. Not always very efficient that way, but often farm wood is in abundance. My neighbor has a 500 acre dairly farm with 200 acres of hardwoods. He cuts down whole maples, oaks, and beechs, and lays whole trees in the snow next to his outdoor furnace. Then, cuts off sections and throws them into the fire. It smokes all over the place, and has creosote dripping all over - but it works and he doesnt' care. It's over 100 feet from his house. When the chimney catches fire, it doesn't affect a thing. It's only three feet high anyway, and a good fire is the only cleaning it gets. On some not-so-cold days, the whole valley around here if full of smoke from setups like that. It's also what has given outdoor, forced-draft furnaces a bad name. They not near as bad when they actually get to burn seasoned wood.
  9. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    White birch has always been like gold around here in New York - but for different reasons. City people seek it out and pay extra for it - because it's pretty sitting next to their fireplaces.

    That being said, all our birches are excellent for firewood - but they rot really easy if left wet. Yellow and black birch heat just as well as hard maple and red oak, and white and paper birch a little less. I have no idea what kind of birches you have in Fairbanks.

    My only knowledge of Alaska is due to watching "Northern Exposure" for many years. I still do, have it all on DVDs - mainly because I've always had a thing for Janine Turner - AKA "O'Connel the pilot." I noticed very few hardwoods in the scenes in the show - but as I recall, most of it was filmed in Washington State and not Alaska.
  10. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    My small splits are 3ish inches, medium 4-7 inches, large anything over that will fit thru the door. I've got a Hotblast add on furnace with a 27" deep firebox, so most of my stuff is 20-24 inches long.
    I'm not splitting many rounds less than 8 inches, but only because I live in SE Michigan where the emerald ash borer has devastated the ash tree population. I'm burning stuff right now that I cut late this summer and split within the last month. Actually, I'm burning stuff at this moment I cut on Monday. This stuff has been dead for 4-5 years, and it's unbelievable how it burns. An eight inch round with bark on will take right off with very little smoke and burn for 5-6 hours. This little bug has been a curse to the landscape, but a blessing in disguise for me. I've got more seasoned wood 'on the hoof' than I know what to do with. All I have to do is cut it, haul it home and burn it.

    Jeff
  11. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    Yeah, I found that out recently. I've got some woods just across the Mac bridge in the UP, and a small farm and house just below the bridge on the lower peninsula - Presque Isle Co. I just find out it's illegal to truck any wood across the bridge because of those bugs.
  12. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    Ya, there's different levels of quarentine areas. Big fines if you are caught moving to a lower quarentine level, across the bridge, or out of state. I went to the Soo a few times over the summer for work, and they were pulling RVs into the rest area for random checks more than once.
  13. bdog

    bdog New Member

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    I usually try to have a mix of sizes, up to maybe 8" square on end. If I have a lot of branches and tree top sections in the 2" to 3" range then I leave more splits on the large size.
  14. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    It was filmed in WA and we don't have whole forests of hardwood trees. We have a lot of maple - not sure which variety because it's the only tree we call "maple" here - and it's great firewood. I burned a lot of it last year. We also have a lot of alder which isn't that great. Whenever I get a load of alder I drop it off for my parents. They're retired and don't mind feeding their fire all day long. And we have a little madrona, which is the bees-knees for firewood.

    It's funny to hear all the east coast guys talking hardwood vs soft wood. If it wasn't for Doug Fir no one in WA, OR, or BC would bother heating with wood.
  15. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    Yeah, well once upon a time dried buffalo chips were the #1 heating and cooking source on the western praries. It's all relative. Just so happens here, we have an over-abundance of hardwoods, so it would be silly to mess with softwoods.

    To the converse, I can't even special order Doug Fir anymore for the extra structural strength in long rafter and header runs that white pine and spruce can't carry. Now, when there's a problem, I have to get southern yellow pine instead - which is just about as strong. In my area, Doug Fir became pretty-much unavailable 20 years ago.
  16. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    One more comment. Many woods that are technically softwoods, have more heat value that woods classified as hardwoods. Doug Fir has the same heat value as hard maple and red oak - all three aound 21-25 million BTUs per cord. So, calling it a softwood can sometimes be misleading. Soft (red) maple is technically a hard wood and only has around 18 million BTUs per cord.
  17. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    The whole hardwood/softwood discussion is almost completely absent here. It pretty much goes species to species.

    Doug Fir: very good, especially the butt-cuts left by loggers.

    Maple: even better than Doug Fir

    Madrona: even better than maple

    Pacific Yew: even better than madrona

    Adler: OK

    Pine: (don't know what sort of pine but it's the only one that grows here) very good

    Hemlock: OK

    Locust/Hawthorn: very good, better than Doug Fir

    Cottonwood: not worth hauling

    Cedar (western red): outstanding fire starter, don't even bother trying to burn for heat
  18. Elderthewelder

    Elderthewelder Minister of Fire

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    Red

    The pine in your area is western white pine, travel over the Cascades and you will find an abundance of Ponderosa pine, It is intersting to see you rate the western pine as very good, but you do not like Alder or Cedar

    According to this wood chart the cedar and alder have a higher BTU count than the pine, also the doug fir has a higher btu count than the Big Leaf maple ( soft maple) that is abundant in your area
    http://www.thelograck.com/firewood_rating_chart.html

    I was lucky enough to score about 2 cords of Oak from a tree that fell on a house in Bellevue, Wa , it is now seasoned and boy does it burn hot, I am trying to save it for when it gets colder out, so I am mixing in some semi seasond doug fir in my fires latley

    I also have about 2 cords of split pine/hemlock in a big pile in my backyard that is for next season, I have not burned much pine before, so I guess we will see how it goes, was free so I took it

    here is a interestin article in the Seattle P.I. about the big leaf maple trees, happens to be in Shelton. (article has 4 pics to click on)
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003710429_maple17m.html
  19. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    If you took a 6" diameter log...I'd split that in quarters and that's about the size of most my splits.
  20. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    I find it fascinating to hear about these trees I've never seen in real life. I've been in the Northeast for 60 years - Vermont and New York. Also have some forest land in northern Michigan - that I regard more as more northeastern then mid-western. Although I've always heated with wood, I still like seeing trees alive and standing better then in the wood-furnace.
    But I always choose being warm over the life of a tree. My wife and I own many large woodlots, but I still cut on other people's properties when it's available, and only cut my own when I have to.

    Here, none of the red or white pine is very good for firewood or structural strength. But, southern yellow pine from down south is almost as hard as oak. I also bought boards cut from Ponderosa pine and they are much harder then any of our white or red pine we have here.

    You've got me with the Big Leaf Maple. Never heard of it until today. I have many stands of hard maple, used mostly for making maple syrup. We also have black maple, silver maple, red (aka soft or swamp maple), Norway maple, and striped maple (aka Moosewood). All the maples here are great for firewood. Hard and black have the most heat but take that much longer to dry. The softer maples dry easier and faster, and are good wood in their own right.
  21. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    For the record my wood evaluation is 100% anecdotal based on my impressions and those of my many wood burning associates.

    Thanks for the links
  22. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    It's actually broadleaf maple, not bigleaf. I'm not sure what it's called in other places but it's practically a weed around here - a weed that makes sweet firewood.
  23. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    That's what red maples are here - a weed that also makes great firewood. Also known as soft maple, swamp maple, etc. It grow fast and, if not thinned, chokes out the hard maples. If you cut a red maple down, the stump sends out suckers and the tree comes back. I've also tapped many red maples during sugar season. The sap has more water content than hard maples, but still makes good maple syrup.
  24. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    'Zact same thing as our maple. I've never seen a maple die without significant chemical help. Even dozed out rootwads will start re-growing.
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