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Worst splitting wood

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by schlot, Aug 21, 2012.

  1. schlot

    schlot Minister of Fire

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    The discussion on elm got me wondering. What kind of wood is hard to split. Elm apparently has a spiral type grain. Others? What are the 5 worst?

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  2. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    Gum that has been sitting in rounds for 6+ months. Had to take an axe to it while splitting just to get it to come apart.
  3. BigV

    BigV Member

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    Locust on doubt about it. I had some seasoned locust I cut into 4" rounds and still couldn't split it. Stringiest wood I ever tried to split!
    jjs777_fzr and infinitymike like this.
  4. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    Of the 2 woods here I have for firewood, spruce is the hardest to split, if it grew in a windy area, even worse.
    When I hand split with a maul, I saved many rounds for the -20°f days, it split easier when frozen.
  5. Blue2ndaries

    Blue2ndaries Minister of Fire

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    Madrone. Trunks grow twisted, spiral like making splitting a pain. However it burns really hot and leaves virtually no ash.
  6. fox9988

    fox9988 Minister of Fire

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    The worst I have split, green American Elm. Cottonwood sounds worse though.
  7. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    I leave Elm in the woods to rot. If one fell on y property I'd haul it away.
    I cut this (some kind) Maple in the spring with my neighbor. DSC07089.jpg
    After a couple months, it is really hard to split by hand. I may even have to break out the sledge and wedges! it is full of little crotches and the grain is sort of swirly. Boy do I miss all the green Red Oak and Black Locust that I split last year.
    albert1029 likes this.
  8. woodchip

    woodchip Minister of Fire

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    I was offered a load of gum a while back. I split a small round (8" across, 12" long) and after about 20 attempts with my wood grenade decided that life was too short to bother with any more. I really had no idea that some woods were virtually unsplittable.
  9. jimosufan

    jimosufan Member

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    just split Sweet gum tree with 22 ton huskee .....Piece of cake. That is compared to green Sieberan elm. bogged the hydro with every split. Don't know how you guys do with ax and mull.
    certified106 likes this.
  10. Nixon

    Nixon Minister of Fire

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    That's interesting ! I've been splitting some locust lately , and it split well . But then again it wasn't seasoned . That might have been the difference . To me it's elm, sycamore ,and sweet gum.
  11. schlot

    schlot Minister of Fire

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    I did a bunch of cottonwood by hand. The bigger rounds are a little tough but over all wasn't bad.
  12. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    To the list I would add American Hophornbeam (aka, Ironwood), though it ussualy stays small so you can burn it in the round. And also Apple.
    Virtually anything that has grown in very tough conditions (slow growth) and lots of wind (twisted/knarled wood) is horrible to try to split.
    fahmahbob and rideau like this.
  13. red oak

    red oak Minister of Fire

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    Gum is the hardest I've ever split. The gum I had was way harder than elm or locust. I eventually stacked the smaller rounds and set the larger ones aside for campfires.
  14. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Once again elm gets a bad rap. It indeed can have a spiral grain but not all. If you cut an elm that is in the woods it will be much different than an elm that has grown in a fence row or a yard. We rarely get an elm that is twisted and most can be split by hand so long as we leave it until it is dead and the bark has fallen off.
    certified106 likes this.
  15. TimJ

    TimJ Minister of Fire

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    I had 30 rounds of gum to split from a dead standing.................no problem with a maul except for about 5 peices which had to be wedged
    Had a medium dead standing red elm to split in the spring............no problem
    Had a big dead standing red elm to split a few weeks back and could not or would not split it with a maul. Rented me a log splitter
  16. bad69bird

    bad69bird Member

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    I got a couple loads free iron wood last year, if i ever get it again I'll tell them to take it back
  17. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Some of my hophornbeam spirals round and round,,horrible to split. But perfect firewood, and the larger rounds, one round burns all night in my stove.
  18. Fire Breathing Dragon

    Fire Breathing Dragon Member

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    Cottonwood was the tuffest for me (if that is what it really was). I used a log splitter so it was no real sweat on the 16" or so diameter rounds but the machine ran slow all the way until the last inch on some splits and the end product was the wood looked like it was split with a grennade. Stringy mess, I will leave this wood if I recognize it in the future. It was normal heavy as green but got super light in just a couple months after splitting. Hickory did not strain the motor at all but due to its semi stringy nature I often ran the wedge all the way through or finished the cuts with a hatchet that I keep within reach while splitting.
  19. Senatormofo

    Senatormofo Member

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    I recently acquired a few green rounds of Beech. Thought it would be fun to use my new Fiskars X27 on it. Wrong! It wasn't happening. The axe bounced off it like it was rubber. I can't tell you how many times I slammed that axe into each round. I finally cut them in half (to about 12"x12") and I got them to split but it still was a joke. I'll never touch that stuff again! I'll stick to Red Oak, Black Walnut and Locust.
  20. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Some of the hardest wood I've ever split was (believe it or not) Norway maple and beech. Now the norway maple wasn't your typical tree....it was a monster along a main road that had been pruned many times over the past 80 or so years, and every grown over knot was a stringy, knarled -up nightmare. Bogged the splitter many times, finally noodled the damm thing. The beech was an old growth tree, it was big and twisty. Maul just bounced off of it, it also bogged the splitter, ended up noodling most of those big rounds too. I saved some pieces of both the norway and the beech to make tomahawk handles and hatchet handles, both very tight grained and dense.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  21. AJS56

    AJS56 Burning Hunk

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    We have a fair amount of Ironwood in our woods and and don't find it all that difficult to split. It is the hardest, densest stuff I've ever worked with. You can tell it when you cut it, split it, carry it, and split it. But I don't find it terrible to split as the grain seems to be very straight. Man that stuff burns nice. Good hot coals.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  22. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Wood that has a lot of knots, twists or multiple crotches.
  23. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    Imagine having to deal with 2 cords of this. Needless to say I was hard up for wood at the time.

    [​IMG]

    Gum wood, pictures are worth a thousand threads.
    albert1029 likes this.
  24. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    You all know my answer:
    100_1036med.jpg
  25. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Boxwood. There's a reason that wood is so coveted for tool handles. Stuff must be damn near as hard as a splitting maul's head.

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