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Splitting Poplar/ Yellow Tulip

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Hankjones, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. Hankjones

    Hankjones Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Messages:
    59
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    Folks I’m having a heck of a time trying to split what i believe is tulip tree. I’m in Virginia, and these trees seem to grow really tall and i had to have some cut down. The folks that felled the tree cut them into rounds and i thought they would be really easy to split with a fiskars but.... I’m finding it almost impossible to split. When I swung my maul into a round a few months ago, water just sprays out like a wet sponge. I let it sit for a few months and now my fiskars sinks into the round and i can still see water getting squeezed out of the round, but it doesn’t seem like it’s close to being split. I thought i could just stare at it and it would split! HELP! Any advise? Wait 6 months before splitting?

    Here's a picture of round that i actually did get to split... but the rest seem to be killing me...

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  2. Ralphie Boy

    Ralphie Boy Minister of Fire

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    Feb 12, 2012
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    1,049
    Loc:
    Northern Kentucky along the Ohio River
    I've Just started to split a large one that I cut a couple of days ago. (Northern Kentucky) I'm using 4lb wedges and a 10 lb sledge and having no problems. I didn't know what the tree was until I posted pictures of the split wood on this forum and ask for help identifying it. Strangest looking wood I've eveer seen. :)
  3. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    Jun 23, 2008
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    Loc:
    Mid Atlantic
    I have grown to really like Tulip (Yellow) Poplar. If properly seasoned, it burns well and it yields at least 2/3 the BTU's of Oak. OTOH the larger diameter rounds are often very hard to split. I really think that you should plan to borrow or rent a gas-hydraulic wood splitter if you are planning to split much Poplar. Or buy yourself one if you're feeling flush. You'll thank yourself later. Let your splits season at least a year. More is better. I'm burning some 3-4 year old splits and they are wonderful stove chow.

    Oak is actually a lot easier to split by hand, if reasonably straight- grained. I don't go out of my way for Poplar. There are just so many better wood types readily available here. I'm not sure if it gets easier to split or not if you let your rounds dry a while. Seems to me it's always tough splitting, with big rounds anyway.

    BTW those who say Tulip Poplar makes 'too much ash' are partly right. It burns to a higher volume of fluffy ash- but just take your shovel and mash it down, The weight of ash generated is no different than any other wood IMO.

    If you must split the big stuff by hand, have a bunch of wedges on hand. Use them with a big sledge hammer. Mauls tend to bounce out of a Poplar round. I doubt you will do much better with a Fiskar's wood axe. Those rounds will sometimes eat your wedges. Doesn't hurt to own a chainsaw, as you may find you have to resort to lengthwise cutting and more wedges on occasion to rescue stuck wedges.

    I burn Poplar intermixed with Oak, Locust, and Cherry, mostly. I'd not burn Poplar exclusively, due to the high volume of fluffy ash. Also, it helps a lot to have the coaling you get with the other woods- makes for much better restarts when you reload.
  4. Hankjones

    Hankjones Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Messages:
    59
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    I was hoping someone would say let the rounds sit for awhile and it would get eaiser..... I did come across some dryer poplar once and that was really easy to split, it baiscally tore when i tried to split it. I may have to resort to just chain sawing them in half and going from there :(
  5. zzr7ky

    zzr7ky Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    1,047
    Hi -

    I like it frozen solid (didn't happen this year) or I set it out of the way to dry in the round. Stacked in a row the rounds dry pretty quick. No joy when a full swing yields onlu a muffler 'thunk' sound....
  6. cptoneleg

    cptoneleg Minister of Fire

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    Virginia
    I have allways found it real easy to split, the easiest wood ever.
  7. barn burner

    barn burner Member

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    Southern WV
    I was splitting Tulip just yesterday with an 8lb maul. What works for me on the bigger rounds is to take some chunks off the outside of the round and work my way in for the final splitting. It takes a little while but it's much less strenuous. For a bit faster method, noodle the round from the top about the depth of your bar and use a cone wedge "wood grenade" right in the center until it splits in half. Then finish the rest with the maul. This works well too.
  8. MarkinNC

    MarkinNC Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Leicester, NC
    I have found when it is really wet it is hard to split. Depending on when the tree is cut, it can be one of the easiest woods to split. i would let it sit a while. It seasons really quick.
  9. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    Mid Atlantic
    Rounds under ~10 to 12 inches split with relative ease. I occasionally get big branches falling in windstorms with downdrafts- around 8 to 10 inches. Those split like a dream. The bigger ones are quite difficult IMO.
  10. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    I don't know about easiest wood ever, but I've never had a problem spitting it. I burned a couple cord last winter.
  11. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    Mid Atlantic
    I have a cone wedge. When I have a bigger round, I always use it first, then go to regular wedges. Those cones are great- everybody ought to have one IMO. The top notching with a chainsaw always helps a lot, if needed. I find that splitting dead center does not work as well as starting a wedge about 1/3 to 1/2 way in towards the center. It also helps a lot to find and exploit any existing crack lines in the wood.
  12. barn burner

    barn burner Member

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    Southern WV
    LOL!........ I was on here earlier today giving advice and talkin all bad about splitting tulip. Well I finished my tulip today and moved on to a 16" oak that I felled a few days ago. Man this thing is kicking my rear end! Getting it to split is not that bad it just wont split all the way through. I have to get down and keep trying to pull the split pieces apart. Yeah hand splitting is almost like a love/hate relationship :roll:
  13. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    If you are having such a hard time splitting them, just get some more wood cached up and either borrow or rent a splitter some weekend and get it all done quick. No hassle, no backbreaking fuss, no cursing swearing etc. Go out and get a pile of wood gathered up, a couple friends or relatives, a case or two of beer and a pack of dogs and burgers......make a weekend get-together out of it! (save the beer for afterwards, of course ;-) )
  14. barn burner

    barn burner Member

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    Southern WV
    Yeah, that makes sense. I actually have a 5 ton electric splitter and a generator that I cart around on the atv. So I can "get er dun" pretty quick if need be. But, my wood splitting days usually involve my 2 boys being with me (3 and 5). So being in the woods without that noisy generator, splitting wood and spending time with my little ones almost makes it worth the hard labor. Plus it's great exercise!
  15. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    I'm sure they enjoy being in the woods with their dad, too! I have three kids, ages 14, 11, and 7. The younger two love to help out with the firewood, the oldest one just enjoys the heat (typical teenager!!) :lol:
  16. AbeAinPa

    AbeAinPa Member

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    Loc:
    Southeastern Pa
    I've split a couple large Tulip Poplars that were cut into 16" deep rounds. They might have been in rounds for a few weeks but not a real long time. The method I found that worked really well was to split it into slabs 5"-6" wide. I started at one side and with my Fiskars made a few whacks in a line across the round and the slab would split right off. I'd move over 5"- 6" and repeat. Once the round was split into slabs the slabs did just about split by looking at them and you end up with a lot of square logs which I like. Hope this helps.

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