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To split or not to split-that is the question!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by jgparmele, Feb 23, 2006.

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  1. jgparmele

    jgparmele New Member

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    I want to thank all of you again for your help on my previous question regarding burning pine.
    Now, I have another rookies' question;
    The heavy winds in the northeast this winter took down several trees (some pretty good sized ones too!). I have them logged, but was not sure if it is better to stack it (and split it in a year or so when the logs dry), or if I should split it before stacking?

    What do you think?

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  2. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Split it now. It will dry faster. If it's too hard to split (Pine? if it's pine, it's easy to split, so split now) If it's some other hard to split wood, it might be easier to split in a few months.
  3. jgparmele

    jgparmele New Member

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    Thanks Warren!
    I appreciate your response. I will take care of it over the weekend.
    Gratefully,
    JG Parmele
  4. Rob From Wisconsin

    Rob From Wisconsin Minister of Fire

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    I have found that it depends upon your stove & drafting of your system.
    Most stoves have a realistic max. size limitation, which is also controlled
    by the drafting capabilites of your chimney. For example, my large cast iron
    beast could take med. size logs (unsplit), but my flue leaves much to be
    desired when it comes to drafting, and thus they wouldn't burn well at all
    in my total system setup. If your system does draft well, then you will get
    longer burn times on properly seasoned logs.
    Hope this helps some....

    Rob
  5. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    Pine is not the easiest wood to split when its green. The maul may bounce off of it like its rubber.

    I would stack it and split it in the summer.

    The trick to splitting pine is to wack it on the edge (toward center), not in the middle like a hardwood.
  6. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    o.k., so now I find myself in exactly this situation. An aquaintance who does building for a living just dropped off 2 cords of pine. It's cut into roughly 12 - 16 in lengths. All I have to do is move it to my wood pile and split it. :) So I'm wondering...once split, how long does pine take to season? This stuff is so wet that when I hit it, sometimes the maul goes in almost 3 inches and gets stuck while the juice ooozzzeeesss out around the maul. I figure it'll dry faster split though. With 14" rounds I'm splitting into roughtly 4-5 splits. Will these splits be ready for next winter?
  7. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Earlier this week the holz method was scorned and made fun, of but it works, for simple reasons. Gravity and exposing the wood vains. Everbody thought in terms of surface exposure. If one wants to get the water out a verticle position with gravity does this far better than horizintal. That's why it works so well. Your wet pine logs should be stacked in the verticle position so the sap and moisture can drain.. Let them sit for a month or so then try splitting them. There will be a noticable difference. Hint they have to be on palets and off the ground.
  8. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Have you ever tried it? Be interesting to put a pallet of wood next to a Holtz to see how the diff...Hmm...maybe with the pine.
  9. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    Maybe I will do the following with the cherry tree I am about to cut up today...

    I'll set aside 3 logs of adjacent cuts, as similar length and diameter as I can cut them.

    1) will leave one unsplit and on end, off the ground;
    2) will split one into 4 splits and toss on a covered woodpile;
    3) will split the last into 4 splits and stand splits on end, off the ground and covered.

    I'll weigh them before and after 30 days with my digital fishing scale and see what the % of weight loss is for each group.

    Pretty unscientific but still methodical. I'm not going to build a HH though.
  10. Martin Strand III

    Martin Strand III New Member

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    The HH method will be tried out. Not sure how much science will be involved, but... Stay tuned.

    Otherwise, the key to getting wood dry is to split it; the bark needs to be broken. The bark is Mother Nature's way of helping the living tree keep required water inside the tree. More splits increase surface area which dries the split wood faster. "Rounds", unsplit pieces, are generally undesireable unless they are smaller and have been stacked and dried for 37 lifetimes.

    Next to splitting, stacking off the ground (off moisture) in an area of sun and wind is best.

    Actually, for maximal exposure and fastest drying, lay each piece out individually in the sun and wind, covered in rain/snow, if you have the time, patience and space. And then after 6 months, finish each piece in the oven at 250*F for an hour or so, or until each piece turns a light golden brown. Then enjoy! ;-)

    Aye,
    Marty

    Yogi Bera used to say, "You can observe a lot just by watching."
  11. pinetop

    pinetop New Member

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    i haven't had much experience with pine mostly because it has the charateristic of retaining so much resin ibelieve it tends to enhance creosote build up ..but thats just an opinion..but i do know that partially dried rounds split harder than fresh cuts..another theory or practice i have is that you drop cut split and stack or pile before moving on this includes the limbs being stacked job complete...in minnesota we do have the luxury of enlongated periods of sub freezing temps and frozen wood splits with ease although i have never tried this method some people drop trees after they have leafed out and let them lie over summer believing that the existing foliage will draw out the moisture
  12. Martin Strand III

    Martin Strand III New Member

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    I have read this, that downed trees with foliage will remove water from the tree. I can't believe it is as fast as citting the tree up, splitting it and stacking it though.

    Along with "girdling" (a 1" circumference cut through the bark) a standing tree, these initial methods to begin drying may only be aids to help if a large tree harvest is planned and cutting/splitting will take lots of time.

    Aye,
    Marty
  13. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I think it's true, Marty. Allegedly what happens is that the leaves transpire a lot of water in a hurry before they dry up, which should cut your drying time down substantially. That's the theory, anyway. Me, I cut everything up immediately (though I usually leave the cut blocks on the ground for a year before hauling and splitting them), mainly because I don't want to deal with piles of downed, un-bucked trees. I wade around in enough slash as it is.

    Anyway, the theory makes sense to me. Another one along those lines is that if you cut your wood in the winter, much of the sap has migrated down into the ground and you have less moisture in the bole of the tree as a result. I don't know if that's true either, but it's a nice theory.
  14. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I've been burning some pine i picked up on someone's curb and split last august. i think it was cut a year or two earlier judging by how dry it it. I must say, i was pleasantly surprised by how well it burned. i was expecting a big flash burn and then a lot of ashes. didn't seem to be that way. it was funky to split. sometimes busted up instead of fracturing along clean grain lines. may have been party due to age, though. hard to say.

    i also read somewhere that trees felled in winter can have up to 50% less moisture. wish i could remember where i read it. wish i could remember a lot of things...

    Yogi Bear said, "I never said half the things I said."

    BTW: my father-in-law grew up watching Yogi and Garagiola at the neighborhood sandlot games. He said they were both 'stars' around St. Louis even as kids. natural talent i suppose...
  15. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Yeah pine gets too bad a rap a lot of the time. I split a half cord of fresh pine today. I find the yellow pine around here is about perfect with a years seasoning and burns pretty steady. I have done overnight burns with it and the only problem is not having coals left. It is great to mix a big pine split with hardwood to get the stove up to temp faster.

    You wouldn't have to leave the Mo Door open as long to get the cat in the mood.

    Of course the rule around here has always been "If it will burn in the presence of sufficient heat and oxygen, it is gonna get burned."
  16. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    My understanding of tree physiology is not much better than my ability to spell it, but I have heard that heartwood color is caused by various minerals and other things that become deposited in the wood cells when the wood switches from being sapwood to being heartwood. That's different for each species, and the size of the heartwood relative to the softwood is also variable within species. It seems to depend, at least to some extent, on location and growing conditions. If you've got hard maple that grows with very small heartwood, for example, it's worth a lot more than maple with big hearts.

    Your suggestion that girdling might actually inhibit the transpiration of moisture through the leaves makes sense. However, a girdled tree will eventually dry out, even when left standing. I think heartwood does act as a moisture conduit while the tree is both alive and dead, and I believe that the heardwood, through this process, continues to darken as the tree ages, as more stuff gets trapped in the cells.
  17. warren88

    warren88 New Member

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