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Splitting oodles of cottonwood, renting splitter -- any tricks I need to know?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by annette, May 3, 2012.

  1. cptoneleg

    cptoneleg Minister of Fire

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    Don't forget Moisture Meters you hate them also.:)

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  2. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Nope. Don't hate them. Just can't see any sense in wasting dollars on buying one.
  3. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    noodling isn't bad with a large saw.
  4. annette

    annette Member

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    I'm not a fan of swinging a sledgehammer, (I need to keep my back from getting any worse) but I'm not a fan of moisture meters either. I did buy one, and found having to resplit to get a reading was kind of annoying, and then I dropped it and couldn't trust the reading anymore. Then I learned how to do the "chin test," and life is good. Yes, the meter was wasted money. But everyone on here was talking about moisture meters, and not the chin test, so I bought one :(
  5. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Annette, swinging a sledge hammer need not be that difficult. Many moons ago after injuring my back pretty bad and 3 surgeries, I was left with a choice. I had tried buying some wood from someone who I thought would give us some good wood but his idea of good wood was right off the stump. Fortunately it was ash and we got through but barely. Then I got some big ash rounds. What to do? Hire someone to split it? Nope. Daily I would split a couple using sledge and wedge....and this with a very sore back. It was work just dragging my body out to do the work but it needed done. So what I did was stand one round up, put a hot seat on it and sit my body down. Using sledge and wedge, I split the wood! All I did was tap the sledge onto the wedge and although it took a while, I got the splitting done. I could not pick the wood up but I got the danged stuff split. That is just one way of getting the job done but one that worked great for that condition. Fortunately we came to our senses and purchased a hydraulic splitter. I've been smiling every sense!
  6. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    I would love to have a tree big enough to "have to noodle it" to load it.
    So far a 22" round, biggest so far, I was able to roll onto the trailer & split vertical when I got it home.

    I don't have a MM either, if I did I'd still burn the oldest driest wood I have. Gotta burn what you got , regardless of what moisture content it is.
    I don't like or dislike a MM, just don't see the need for one in my situation.
    But if I start buying C/S/S wood that is said to be "seasoned". I might get one to test it "just to prove a point".
    But I'd buy wood this year to burn next year (knowing it would need to be drier than most wood sellers here deliver) .

    annette: so now you have to rent a big saw & a log splitter. Then taste the splits. LOL :) We'll need pictures :)
  7. annette

    annette Member

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    Is that some sort of "first blood" thing? But I might get Cottonmouth from tasting it! But at least my trees aren't dogwood. And no, I would not like a little taste of Heaven (as in "Tree of")!

    Maybe we can start a rumor on here that chewing on the wood will tell you how seasoned it is. :D
  8. Mr A

    Mr A Minister of Fire

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    In my neighborhood, renting a wood splitter is is $100 per 24 hours. Tow behind, and tilt up to split vertically. Make sure you get all the pins in solid when tilting up and no chance it will tip. Keep your hands away from the steel rail that the splitting wedge operates on. The one I rented had a back plate perpendicular to the splitting wedge. I always pay attention when working with tools, and good thing. While holding a not so straight cut across round, and operating the levers for the wedge to come down, I barely missed my hand being caught between the back plate and the round, I was only looking out for the wedge. I have a Stickler wood splitter from Ebay, $300. Yea, I know, it looks dangerous, a lot of things are. I have split a lot of huge knotted oak rounds with it no problem, and it is not so scary once you use it a while. Best part is, it is cheap, it works, and I dont have to rent a splitter.
  9. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    In my case, it depends on the circumstances. I do more than 90% of my splitting with a maul, and the rest with the sledge and wedges. I was recently working a whole pile of cedar, and this stuff was so nasty full of knots it wouldn't come apart even after splitting with wedges, but my saw went thru it rip-style like a hot knife thru butter. It was a hell of a lot easier to split half-rounds after ripping the rounds once with the saw, than wearing myself out trying to drive the halves apart with a sledge.

    This is what he's talking about. http://www.thestickler.com/article7d4c.html?id=5842

    As someone often enough accused of doing crazy dangerous stuff, that thing even scares me a little.
  10. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Mr A - I am glad to see that you finally got that dang pig from the insurance commercial.. ... Weeeweweweeeeeee.
  11. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Well I can agree with cedar as that cuts pretty darned easy. It also doesn't try to break your back when you pick it up.
  12. dorkweed

    dorkweed Guest



    What is this "chin test"????;?
  13. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    This is usually performed by young lads attempting to establish the pecking order.
    Realstone likes this.
  14. whatisup02

    whatisup02 Member

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    I think I would pass on that one to.
  15. annette

    annette Member

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    The "chin test:" Only works on wood at general room temp, not out in the snow. But it will save you from putting a hisser on the fire, or tell you if the whole stack is good to go, or not. You touch the end of the split to your chin, or cheek. If it feels cool, it's going to hiss or smolder. It takes about 3 pieces of wood to get a properly calibrated chin, and hitting your chin on the ground will not make the tool unreliable (unless you hit it really, really hard)
    Realstone likes this.
  16. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    What about banging the head on the wall.....
  17. annette

    annette Member

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    Any tool can be broken if you try hard enough. Of course, you must already be soft in the head to want to, so will you really get anywhere bashing a pillow-noggin into the wall?
  18. Punky

    Punky New Member

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    Now let me say a thing or two about Cottonwood from the state of Massachusetts. I had a 4 foot diameter tree delivered in a grapple load. It was easy cutting, but MISERABLE splitting. My 27T Troy Bilt splitter moaned, groaned and strained on those rounds, worse than twisted Beech. They STANK like a failed septic system. The wood was so stringy, nearly every split required complete wedge travel to "tear" the wood apart.

    The wood had so much water in it, the stacked and top-covered splits grew huge plumes of mold and Fungi. They dried very quickly and burned hot.

    This wood leaves NO coals and tons of ash, it's very hard to start a new fire. It's great for shoulder season, but for all the work I would insist grapple loads from now on are COTTONWOOD FREE. That one tree yielded over 2 cord. Live and learn.<>
  19. annette

    annette Member

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    Wow, I really hope my trees won't be stinky or stringy. So far I have only split the dead stuff that puts holes in my roof, and it was easy.

    If having the wood hauled away was free, I'd have them do it. I actually like maple enough to drive down the street to get it, then split and stack it. But I would rather not do all this work for it to be cottonwood that I put in the stove.

    They're coming tomorrow, hopefully all will go well!
  20. Crane Stoves

    Crane Stoves Member

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    dont allow any young children to try it! it seems every year we have injury's or fatalities from some "wing nut" dad letting his children near a splitter or chipper that he rents! its one thing to have a 17 year old learning and helping but for the love of god keep the entire area clear and off limits of any 7 or 8 year olds while your working.
  21. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Ah, hum.... Cottonwood, when freshly cut, is not the sweetest smelling wood for sure. Once dried it is fine.
  22. annette

    annette Member

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    The cottonwood hasn't been too stinky so far. I also got a limb trimmed off an oak (it was shading the veggie patch) and that oak was pretty strong-smelling too--and I've been around a lot of oak while it was cut down. It was also a bit stringy as I split it (the oak--haven't touched any cottonwood yet) so I wonder if it's a different species than the few I've done already. Or if splitting it within an hour of being cut makes things different.

    I filled up one wood rack just with the upper branches of one cottonwood. This yard is going to be SO full of woodracks...
  23. Freeheat

    Freeheat Minister of Fire

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  24. hobbyheater

    hobbyheater Minister of Fire

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    Cottonwood ,ugly stuff to split ,sledge and wedge ,and not since my teen years on the farm. A word of caution on burning , it is really bad for large flying embers , so only burn in damp weather if you have a cedar roof!
  25. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    I can move my buddies splitter pretty easy by hand, assuming ground is not soft or your not going up a pretty steep hill. Its a 20ton unit and is at my house as i speak.

    Um a 12" saw, yea your gonna have to get a bigger say to cut those rounds up. And yea it will be way quicker to split with wedges than try and cut it length wise. But i have a larger Stihl ms390 saw and i can rip even a pretty big log lengthwise in not much time with way less effort that banging my brians out with hard splitting wood. The trick is only going like half way through then hand splitting it the rest of the way.

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