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Splitting with the rings?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by NW Walker, Aug 28, 2013.

  1. NW Walker

    NW Walker Member

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    I've been working my way through that large Big Leaf Maple for a while now, and it's almost all c/s/s at this point, but I wanted to share something I learned and ask if this is particular to this type of wood.

    The rounds are medium large, mostly around 24" diameter, and it was standing dead and is extremely figured wood. It's actually kind of a shame, my stacks look like a guitar makers shop, quilted, spalted, tiger stripes, it's just gorgeous wood really. All that makes it really tough to split though, and most of the rounds have significant twist as well.

    I had been using a maul and wedge to make the initial split, then working my way around perpendicular to the growth rings as usual. What I found was that if I could get it split to where one of the sections had a "point" where the heart wood was, I could go parallel to the rings, knock off the point, and then the outer section would split much easier since it was sort of "unlocked" from the twist and such.

    Lately though, I have just started whacking the full rounds with the x27 about 4" in from the outer edge parallel to the rings. Surprisingly, it splits easily this way, and I can work my way around, sort of "peeling" the thing apart. Even the gnarliest rounds come apart really easily this way, and I'm getting much nicer splits with way less effort using this technique.

    I'm wondering if this is particular to this twisted old dead maple, or if this technique has worked for others and I'm just slow to pick it up. I do use small splits, and it might not be practical if you were going for larger ones, but I am now cruising through the last big rounds and am really glad to have figured this out. Anyone else do this?

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  2. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Slabbing off the sides is about the easiest way to split any wood. Next best method is targeting the cracks in the wood.
    Beer Belly, Bster13, HDRock and 2 others like this.
  3. NW Walker

    NW Walker Member

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    Thanks Luke, you just reduced my whole post to 12 words, and said it better! I guess I'm just slow, but it has taken me a long time to figure it out. I was always going for the cracks, but in this particular tree that wasn't getting me very far.
    lukem likes this.
  4. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    As Luke said, taking slabs off the sides of a round is a great way to work on big rounds. Sometimes I like to try to split a big round right through the middle just to see if I can, but slabbing the sides is definitely easier with big, tough rounds.
  5. Paulywalnut

    Paulywalnut Minister of Fire

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    I do the same thing. Just peeling it away like an orange. You just end up with some thinner pieces than you like.
  6. Coal Reaper

    Coal Reaper Minister of Fire

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    yeah i slab and then attack the slabs as needed
  7. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    I have found that once I knock the edges off like that, splitting the round any way is easier. It seems that once a few slabs are busted off the structural integrity of the round is broken.
  8. JrCRXHF

    JrCRXHF Burning Hunk

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    In this photo i started doing what i think you are talking about.

    [​IMG]
    Paulywalnut and Bster13 like this.
  9. NW Walker

    NW Walker Member

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    Yep, that's it exactly Jr. although I am working my way around the round as I go to "unlock" each piece. I can't believe you guys all have been doing this forever and it took me so long to figure out, but I'm glad I finally did. Splitting these particular rounds in half through the center has been exceptionally difficult, and this technique made all the difference.
  10. NW Walker

    NW Walker Member

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    One thing I notice is you guys are all on the east coast and used to splitting hard woods. For the most part, all of my firewood, my whole life really, has been soft wood. This is the first large hard wood I've ever come across, if it's hardwood it's usually small alder or maple. I guess I better get that big Doug on the hill bucked up and dragged down to the shed so I can see how it works on that. I suspect the branches might make it not as effective in fir rounds.
  11. JrCRXHF

    JrCRXHF Burning Hunk

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    Yeah if i end up with pine i run that through the Huskey. The hard wood has a nice pop to it with a fisker x27.

    Don't forget about the bungie cord method too.
  12. scroungerjeff

    scroungerjeff Burning Hunk

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    I have noticed that some species are easier to split across the rings like oak and others are easier to split parallel to the rings like cherry. Only danger with going with rings is the axe can run off at an unpredictable angle at times.
  13. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    The hydraulics don't discriminate between cracks or annual rings........it kills the round either way!
    I like to split manually sometimes just for fun, but pine ain't any fun to split by hand in most instances.......those branches make it a beotch.
  14. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    I can split faster with a maul than with the Huskee in the easy stuff. If it takes more than a couple swings it gets the hydraulic treatment though.
    JrCRXHF and HDRock like this.
  15. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Well, Red Oak types can be slabbed off pretty easily if the grain is straight....
  16. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    Red Oak is about the easiest wood to split. Especially if green.
    Thistle likes this.
  17. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    That odd sound you hear to your southeast is probably me crying now....
  18. HDRock

    HDRock Minister of Fire

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    I'm tellin ya , I have split maple,already bucked ,if it was 2' could be some nice cab, doors :oops:
    NW Walker likes this.
  19. NW Walker

    NW Walker Member

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    I know, trust me, it's killing me, but BTU's are BTU's, right? I did save an 8' section that has a lot of figure. It's not bucked, and I'm going to try to see if I can't get some useable slabs out of it. All I've got is a chainsaw, but I do want to save a little as a momento. It's very pretty. If you want any small pieces I'd be happy to ship some out.

    Oh, and Scotty, man, if I had hydraulics this thread wouldn't exist. It would all be done. I've c/s/s an honest one and a half cords from this one tree already. Maybe another 1/2 and change to go. Here's a pic of one of it's three trunks....

    [​IMG]
  20. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    You have figured out one of the tricks to eddeciently split any wood that is to big to just quarter or split in half or even split in 1/8s
    NW Walker likes this.

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