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Wow that oak really holds the moisture

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by 73blazer, Nov 6, 2010.

  1. 73blazer

    73blazer Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Messages:
    164
    Loc:
    Birch Run, MI
    2 years ago, I cut a 3.5' diameter oak that had been dead for, well, since I had moved here so at least 3 years.

    It sat in rounds cut 16-20" lengths for a year, last year around this time, I split it. It's all stacked for use either late this burn season or next year. BUT, a couple pieces were just too long so I cut an edge off thinking I might use some nice 3' diameter 1" thick rounds for, well, whatever.
    Anyhow, a couple of those 1" thick slab broke in 2, so I had like half circles 1" thick. After I cleaned the flue last May, I stage a fire, and I placed 2 of these 1" thick half rounds in along with some ash,maple red oak, because, well, they just seemed to fit nice and make a nice aesthetic look for the whole summer with a staged set of logs of various sizes/shapes in there...etc.

    Anyhow, it's supposed to be 21 here tonight, and only a high of 35 today, so I decide I light it off early this morning, first fire this year. Wood sitting in that stove all summer long has a slight draft running through there, the meter says 8% on the couple of ash and red oak splits I quickly tested. Since I didn't buy any firestarters yet (don't worry, ordering super cedars later tonight), I put some small fat wood and shredded paper and she lit off. It didn't take off like I expected at 8% moisture, so I crack the door slightly and I hear a huge hiss, I'm like, WTF is that, I look in and see water bubbling out from those 1" thick half rounds. It's super dense white oak from the base of the 125 year tree that it was, but still dead for years, stacked in full rounds for 2, cut off for the last year at 1" thick, place in a stove for the whole summer I figured that wood would be about as dry as any wood could ever, get. Wrong. That white oak simply takes time. Water, bubbling out after all that?! The rest of the 2 year old red oak lit off like kindling and dryed out the white oak in short order, and the stack was running 600 in no time, but still, visible water, after all that time?! That's some dense wood right there!

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  2. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,816
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Blazer, it does not surprise me in the least! Oak simply will hold moisture for a long, long time. Especially so if it has not been split. As for the pieces you left in the stove over the summer months, they just can't dry much in there. It also sounds as if you took a MM reading without re-splitting the wood and if so, you did not get anywhere near a true reading.

    Stacking those rounds for 2 years, if they lost 10% of their moisture that would probably be stretching it. Get them split, stack so it is off the ground a couple inches and stack so the wind will hit the sides of the stacks and it will season much faster. Sun hitting the wood pile is nice but wind is the most important. Good luck.
  3. CTburning

    CTburning New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    224
    Loc:
    Western CT
    I burn 80% Red and White Oak and yes it does take quite a while to season. I buck it into rounds and then place them off the ground on pallets or cement blocks for 6 months and then split in the spring. It's just the way it worked out. After 19 months split and seasoned in a dry open shed, the wood is a million times better than it was a year ago. I don't bother busting out my moisture meter because it lights off like kindling. I have burned more Red Oak than white and the Red takes longer to season than the white. I tend to throw the really big chunks of Red Oak back into next years stack because I prefer 3 years for it to dry. My 2012-2013 is already in a pile waiting to be stacked. Oak is a joy to burn when it is dry but a bear if less than 18 months. I used to prefer swamp maple because it was so much easier to light.
  4. kubota

    kubota New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2010
    Messages:
    20
    Loc:
    Southeastern Oklahoma
    Wow. That is impressive.

    How have you liked your 441 Stihl? I have one myself, love it, although I do have a real hard time getting it started most of the time.
  5. 73blazer

    73blazer Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Messages:
    164
    Loc:
    Birch Run, MI
    I love the 441. I don't have any issue starting it, 2-3 pulls on high choke till it sputters, then one pull on half and she's nice. It is heavy, it is great for bucking and felling, but a PITA for limbing. That's why this year I broke down and bought the little 181 with a 12" bar, I LOVE that little saw.
  6. kubota

    kubota New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2010
    Messages:
    20
    Loc:
    Southeastern Oklahoma
    Hmmm.... I guess mine must have a problem of some sort. It was so hard to start last week that I ended up driving 20 miles to the dealer...and what do you know, the guy got it going in 6 or 7 pulls. Pretty embarrassing. And to top it all off, the technicians tell me that it is probably my fault. I honestly don't know what I am doing wrong. When I first got it, I had absolutely no problem with it! It would fire right up after a couple pulls on full then one on half. Anymore though, I rip on that handle for 5 or 10 minutes solid until I get frustrated enough to stop.
  7. cptoneleg

    cptoneleg Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2010
    Messages:
    1,466
    Loc:
    Virginia
    This Oak tree was cut down about march 2010 cut split stacked end of May 5 1/2 months mc 27 % to 25% burning pretty good tonight. Its my first year with new stove didn't know what seasoned wood was before this site I know it's a little wet for your standards. I now have about 6 cords stacked, even have a new shed and wood seasoning for next year thanks to this site. Most of the Oak on my place is what we call chestnut oak, the red oak is still about 32% that was stacked about the same time.

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  8. gibson

    gibson New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Messages:
    663
    Loc:
    Lincoln, RI
    I have always thought that red oak seasons faster than white. I seem to get a lot of red oak. I like it.
  9. Bubbavh

    Bubbavh Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2008
    Messages:
    475
    Loc:
    NJ Piney
    +1 white seems to take longer and is more difficult to split(real stringy)
  10. golfandwoodnut

    golfandwoodnut Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,415
    Loc:
    Pittsburgh PA
    I seem to prefer the white oak. Someone made a good point that white oak cell structures are different than red and are best at keeping water out of the wood. It is interesting to see after a rain that the white oak looks bone dry and some red oak will look a little wet on the ends. That is why they used it in building ships etc because of its water tight features. I am lucky that most of the stuff I cut was dead for many years and much of it was under 25 percent moisture when cut. Some even under 20. I know fresh cut Oak can take a good 2 years, maybe even 3 under certain circumstances. No problem splitting either one of them.
  11. louieva

    louieva New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    Messages:
    13
    Loc:
    Northern VA
    I split some more pin oak today. It has been down for a few weeks and these were stacked as rounds by a tree service company. I thought it would be reasonably dry (being new to this whole thing.)

    Every time I bit into it with my Fiskars splitter axe, it oozed water. It was kinda strange like it was bleeding water or something. It makes me want to split the oak smaller so it'll dry better.

    I guess the lesson is - oak won't really dry unless it is split. Otherwise it is like a big sponge.

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