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What's wrong with splitting even the small rounds?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Bster13, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    Granted it certainly takes more time, but if you are playing catch-up or are a newbie (like me) just building your stockpile of wood and want it to dry as fast as possible, is there any downside to splitting everything, using a CAT stove w/ thermostat (a la BK Princess/King)?

    My (no actual experience) thinking tells me that even if you put small splits in your stove w/ a CAT and a thermostat, won't the stove dampen itself down if the fire gets too rocking with it's thermostat? Or if you had no thermostat, if you were watching things, couldn't you cut off the air manually and get a nice slow burn just the same as big rounds?

    Just thinking out loud, looking for someone to verify or deny. Thanks!

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  2. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I prefer to split everything because rounds don't seem to season as well as split wood. I find some of the rounds that I have stacked, even small ones, grow mold and seem heavy (wet) while similar wood that I have split is solid, mold-free, and very dry.
    albert1029 likes this.
  3. Pallet Pete

    Pallet Pete Guest

    If its 4-6" rounds I dont split them just stack them in the sun and wind they burn fine in 1 year better in 2.

    Pete
    Thistle likes this.
  4. WellSeasoned

    WellSeasoned Guest

    I'll save small rounds, 5 to 6 inches and place them throughout the stack of splits so there is always one to grab for the overnight burn.
    Thistle and albert1029 like this.
  5. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    But are large rounds needed to obtain long burns with a cat stove? If I can slow down the air and let the cat feed off the smoke, does the stove care if the smoke is coming from large or small splits/rounds?
  6. wood thing

    wood thing Member

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    I split all rounds with in reason. I think it drys better. As you learn how your stove burns, you will get a feel of what you want when you want it. You don't have to put one small split in or four, you decide. It works for me and besides, I get a kick out bo those small splits !
  7. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Splitting stuff small is a good way to get ahead. Not splitting stuff and having the luxury of time is a good benefit of being ahead. (less work).

    Do whatever you have to to get ahead.
    AJS56 likes this.
  8. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    I split everything that I can easily hit with a maul. If I get a round that's a little twisted or too skinny to reliably split in one blow, it gets tossed on the split pile.
    Everything except for elm. I might cheat with elm and let a few bigger rounds get by, especially if I hit them and they bounce back. I've never had any trouble
    burning smaller rounds of elm that are three years old.
  9. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    I know small rounds will burn just fine, as well as large rounds for longer burns, but will small rounds/splits give long burn times (given enough of them stuffed in the firebox) in a CAT stove dampened down just the same as large rounds?
  10. lopiliberty

    lopiliberty Minister of Fire

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    I like to have rounds big enough that I can load 4 of them in the liberty and it fill the whole firebox for an overnight load. I have found it takes a little for time to split some of the small rounds but it gives me more different split sizes to fill in the spaces in the stove
  11. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    The simple answer is no. The reason that splits dry/season faster than rounds will also make them burn faster than rounds: greater surface area.
  12. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    So basically a CAT can still burn efficiently when it slows things down (actually that's where it excels), but it can't overcome good old surface area (or lack there of with large splits).
  13. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    There is a learning curve for each system. No one hard fast rule other than dry wood is key.
    I know mine pretty good now & know where to set the stat for various outside temp, wind, no wind etc. I have fans & they come into play on the colder (need more heat) periods.
    Also a fan to move air up the basement steps, on below 30° ±/ off above ± 40°.

    Yes you have great burn control with a BK stat. Can almost cut the air off totally & get a low slow burn.
    Big splits last longer,
    smaller splits fill in the small voids between big splits, when fully loading the stove & help get the cat up to temp quicker.

    I split everything, birch will get punky in a year or 2 if you don't. I make rounds from 3" ± & up.

    All wood dries faster when split. ;)
  14. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Well, you get into wood burning physics, but basically a CAT and a secondary air injection system will burn off the otherwise unburned wood gasses when the stoves are damped down, but only to a point. Both will cut out at lower temps and unburned wood gasses will escape and efficiency drops. At this point you have a charcoal oven, which is what you do not want, and why the EPA mandates CAT and/or secondary air injection stoves. Either system can still be overly damped down too early in a burn and become less effective. This is where OWBs lose most of their efficiency. They open the damper and burn hot until the water temp is reached, and then the damper is closed and they go into smolder mode. The wood is still hot and gasses are released from the wood, but they exit the flue unburned. Smoke dragon stoves are also notorious for this if they are overly damped.

    The point I was trying to make is this (in any stove, not just a CAT): more surface area and the wood will dry faster because the water has more area to evaporate from and the water does not have to travel as far to reach the surface of the wood. Similar when being burned, more surface area of smaller splits allows greater heat exposure which results in more wood gasses to become volatile faster and burn, and hence smaller wood will tend to burn faster and hotter than wood-wise equivalent rounds. If you burn dry wood and burn off the wood gasses and then damp it down when it is more in coal mode (and the wood gasses are virtually gone) it will burn very efficiently. If you damp it down before the wood gasses are burned off the CAT and/or secondaries will burn off the gasses as designed as long as the stove stays hot enough. However, if it is damped down too soon and too much and the temp drops too low you go into smolder mode, you make charcoal and lose the unburned wood gasses and efficiency drops.

    I burn smaller stuff for a faster and hotter fire when I need it. Hotter fire, box fan behind the stove set on high, house gets hot fast. I tend not to stuff my stove full during the day when I am here. In the morning I will add a few small splits to get it up to temp and then add a few larger rounds and let it go in 'burn mode' most of the day, adding a round or two at a time. I ran my OWB the same way, as this better prevents charcoal making. I keep a bag of big and small stuff by the stoves (I use the blue reinforced bags that they sell at IKEA for lugging around my firewood). Cold temps and I use denser wood; denser wood has more energy per unit volume. Oak, locust, madrone, etc. Warmer shoulder season temps and I burn lighter wood like alder, cottonwood (stinky cat piss smell, when this supply is gone I will not get any more), birch, etc. Overnight burn log size, species and amounts depend on wind, temp, humidity and mood. I am still perfecting my method. Heating with wood in a stove is a fine art, and there are many variables. Mixed species fires can be a challenge, and temps here can vary by 10-20 degrees from night to night.
  15. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for explaining things a little more for me even though I am a Husky owner. :p

    Makes sense to have variety in my wood pile, for while I do. Only thing is...I can identify how big the splits are by looking at it....I can't identify what species of wood I have (It's all mixed together from scrounging on CL) so it'll be an interesting learning experience. Haha.
  16. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    I wonder if I brought in a random sampling of wood in, and they chose what to throw in the stove based off weight....I could put a little digital scale near the stove that I use for weighing backpacking gear. Hrmmmm...
  17. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    I have owned several of the more esteemed Husky saws. I culled them with my older Stihls to reduce the herd. CAD (chainsaw addiction disease) can get out of control. I stihl have too many saws ;)

    I am also a certified wood scrounge: from CL, neighbors, small woodland falling/logging, flood salvage, arborists, national forest cutting, and slash pile salvage/post logging salvage. You need to learn the species that are in your area, and to ask when you get the wood. You learn about them over time, what they look like as a tree and as seasoned firewood. I avoid several species now that come up on CL a lot here: poplar, cottonwood, aspen, and willow. Black locust is not that common here but I have gotten a lot on CL lately. One arborist did not like burning it so he gave me a cord of seasoned BL last year. He said I would need a 'good stove' to burn it. My gain. BL is #2 on my prize list for prized firewood. Madrone is #1. Madrone only grows along the west coast of North America, but it is a trash tree here and not used commercially. It is great firewood. Oak is #3, we have mostly Oregon white oak here in the PNW, also a trash species, but there are other oak species in the cities and burbs. Bigleaf maple is also common in the US west, and is also a trash species, and other types of maples are common in the burbs. Generic 'maple' is #4 on my list. Doug Fir is #5. Doug is the top money tree here, but it grows like a weed in the west. Alder is my #1 wood for BBQ. There is a lot around here, but it is also a very high value timber species, so it does not come up that often (I horde it). I go after the above prized wood, as well as others like cherry/plum, elm, ash, larch (AKA: tamarack), eucalyptus (it usually dies in hard frost here every few years, and people re-plant them religiously to die in another few years), and some others I cannot think of now.

    I keep my wood in racks on pallets staked with t-posts and covered in tarps and separated by species. I have one section that is a complete mix of species that was from the storms here 2 years ago. I salvaged firewood from windfall on the roads, but also (with a permit) from flood timber that washed into bridges and had been yarded out. They took the better species to the mill, and left the rest for us wood scrounges. It is a weird mix. "Guess the wood!" I also have pine, juniper, plum, birch and cherry from my property here that I felled last year. Cherry and plum look the same, and they burn pretty much the same. I have my alder stashed, and new oak and BL from this past fall for next year. I have some odd-ball cedar from a load of fir I burned last year. Light wood, not worth it IMO. Cedar is another high value timber species but common in the burbs as well. Cut, burn and learn... I heat this place exclusively with wood. I should fix the furnace to get a home loan though. Not that I will ever use it...
  18. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    You can tell the difference in wood just by picking it up. If it is dry that is... wet, most wood species have gobs of water and weigh a lot. In my stacks: oak, BL, madrone, and juniper are very heavy. Doug fir, maple, and larch are heavy. Cherry, plum, and birch are medium. Cottonwood, pine, red cedar and alder are light.
  19. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    You got it and that's what the OP was asking/saying. I was splitting just about anything that I could stand long enough to take a whack at. My Sandy oak is for the 2015/2016 season (and beyond ;)), not being as picky with that stuff.
  20. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    I split birch because it tends to rot if I don't and the small branches I keep very dry otherwise they rot
    It is decent wood to burn if you can keep it from rotting
    Cherry seems to do the same to me but not as bad.
    So I end up with some smaller splits that have more surface area to burn per cubic inch.
    Load more often, but it's free except for the time I spend messing with it.
    When time is short I toss the small stuff.

    Your firebox size is relative, too. Your splits can be too big. I know I've tried huge and ended up with cold logs sitting in there in the morning.
    Or huge cones with just the middles burned. :)
  21. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Stove don't care so long as the wood is dry. Not sure what you call large rounds. We keep some rounds but not very big. Probably the biggest is 5" or an occasional 6" but still most are smaller. The key is putting a round or a large split in the bottom rear of the stove.

    I split a lot of wood so it ends up in a rectangle shape. These work really nice for placing in the bottom rear of the stove. Our overnight fire was a bit over 12 hours and when I got up this morning there was about 1/4 of that bottom rear piece still burning. Needless to say, it did not take much to get the new fire going and the house was nice and warm.
  22. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    Rounds 4" & under are never split,occasionally a few 5" & 6" are split in half,especially if wood isnt the dead stuff I'm normally cutting.Sometimes leave a handful of 6" rounds for longer burning.The 2 p/u loads of Ash I got in past few days off CL I left all but a few 5"- 7" rounds whole,even though the wood is green.And the splits are fairly large too,its all for 2013-14 & beyond so no big deal.
    Backwoods Savage and AJS56 like this.
  23. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    My first cord of wood (I used one of the calculators listed on this forum. I estimate I now have C/S/S a little over 2 cords of mixed wood) was split extremely thin. Next cord was split into sizes that I could palm (like a basketball). I have average sized hands and stand 5'9".

    I think I'll have room for another cord in the space I have on the side of my house. I hope it's enough for a Norwalk, CT winter next year, if it's not, well at least it was something to cut into the heating bills for my 1-story, 1974 sq ft ranch!
  24. Paulywalnut

    Paulywalnut Minister of Fire

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    I try to split everything. Then I don't have to worry about
    something rolling out of the stove. ( that maybe I
    personally didn't put in.
  25. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    You likely need about three cord.

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