Best way to split Ash & a Wood ID

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Wawa Coffee

Member
Jul 24, 2016
76
SEPA
You can't pass 5 houses in my area without seeing an Ash tree coming down. I saw no less than 10 cords this AM on the front lawns of 3 consecutive houses that just had trees taken down. Then went down the road and saw another huge Ash tree in a yard with a "free firewood" sign. I couldn't resist after all that, so I stopped and grabbed a pickup bed full. I guess this is the work of beetles and people are being proactive.

Having said that, does anyone have a tried and true way to split large rounds (24"+) easily without a splitter?
- Maul?
- Sledge & Wedge?
- Splitting Axe?

I find that the smaller stuff pops apart pretty good with the maul, and some of the larger rounds take a few whacks on the edges with a maul. Anyone split a ton of Ash by hand and have any tricks?

Also - can anyone ID this wood? The second picture has some small pieces of Ash in the tire - I'm only interested in the larger piece in the foreground. It came down during a storm at a buddies house and I snagged a bed full.

Wood%20ID1_zpsss058fkc.jpg

Wood%20ID2_zpso1mug2zc.jpg
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,484
central pa
I find ash splits easier than most woods I work with. No real tricks. But if they are yard trees they will probable have allot more knots and twisted grain that ones from the forrest. It is really a shame to see them all go around here there are large areas of woods that are all dead now. Between the ash and he hemlock our forests are taking a huge hit right now from invasive species.
 

heavy hammer

Minister of Fire
Jul 18, 2015
1,819
Kirtland Ohio
I agree with bholler just swing at it, nothing special. Larger rounds with more knots may need a wedge, but a maul should work. Enjoy the free wood I was just asked if I was interested in taking a large ash tree a buddy was removing. It is a shame but might as well take the wood while it's there.
 
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Wawa Coffee

Member
Jul 24, 2016
76
SEPA
I can't believe how much Ash I'm surrounded by. None of its given me problems splitting thus far. Here's hoping it stays that way. :)
 

CincyBurner

Minister of Fire
Mar 10, 2015
598
SW Ohio
1. Splitting:
Sledge, maul & wedges, or splitting ax ? Yes to all. Keep all in your 'splitting tool chest'.
Size-up "bigger" rounds with goal of whittling down to ever more manageable chunks.
Halve, or quarter to chunks in field that are moveable/ manageable.
ID wood spp. Ash is usually easy and a pleasure to hand-split; however, I've had a couple instances of small (16" diam.) from open an grown tree that was very tough.
Fetch the straight, clear chunks, or cut out straight portions to firewood length.
Read the face of the cut surface. On wood that has been sitting a bit, look for its natural fissure lines. Strike these lines.
Decide whether to split using maul &/or splitting ax, or wedges, or combination wedges after maul has 'softened' wood up.
When using splitting ax (e.g. X-27) or maul, 'strike-a-line' along one of its natural radial cracks. For example - Center, edge, middle, edge, edge. A couple good YouTube links on this site.
Sometimes I slab off the edges (tangential split). Use these to stack like roof tile. If wood has been siting awhile the bark might even flake off. Another benefit of doing some initial work in the field.
When using sledge & wedges don't slam too fast/ hard, instead use persistent, successive strikes. Use PPE (eye protection, chaps) and keep edges of wedges ground to prevent splintering. Good past discussions about potential hazards of wedges. Once a good crack is found tap wedge lightly until set. The newer double angle wedges (sold in big box stores) are more difficult to get started. Try to find single angle old wedges at garage sales.
  • Good technique for ax and maul - keep foot stance almost as wide as batting stance, keep knees slightly bent, maintain lower grip through swing cycles, but allow your top hand to slide down handle as you bring down handle. End swing with top hand meeting bottom hand at end of swing. Weight will naturally shift from strong leg to weak leg from beginning to end of swing. For tough, bigger rounds explode your swing (increased head speed is more important than weight i.e. E = mc2). Listen to sound of successive strikes. A deep thunk equals progress. Adjust force of swing as needed (optimize energy used to conserve your energy). Never swing with both hands starting at base of handle, because of loss of control, weaker strikes, and poor form stresses the shoulder.
2. Spp ID: I'm going with red oak - platey bark, deep red wood, and big rays. Vinegar smell ? Should be easy splittin', and good burning in 2-3 years.
 

Sconnie Burner

Feeling the Heat
Aug 23, 2014
488
Western Wi
I would grab as much as you have room for! Split what you can by hand. Rent a splitter for the problem pieces once you get an over abundance of them. Or possibly offer some of the split wood in trade for borrowing or having someone come help you that already has a splitter.
 

Wawa Coffee

Member
Jul 24, 2016
76
SEPA
I would grab as much as you have room for! Split what you can by hand. Rent a splitter for the problem pieces once you get an over abundance of them. Or possibly offer some of the split wood in trade for borrowing or having someone come help you that already has a splitter.

#1 problem is storage. I can only hold 2 split cords in my shed, and I have probably 2 cords in rounds stacked on pallets and racks near the shed. I might just go grab a few 4x4's tomorrow and pick up some more of the rounds that are left.
 

Sconnie Burner

Feeling the Heat
Aug 23, 2014
488
Western Wi
#1 problem is storage. I can only hold 2 split cords in my shed, and I have probably 2 cords in rounds stacked on pallets and racks near the shed. I might just go grab a few 4x4's tomorrow and pick up some more of the rounds that are left.
Beg, borrow, trade, and plead for storage room anywhere you can think of. Free wood won't be around forever!
 

red oak

Minister of Fire
Sep 7, 2011
1,294
northwest Virginia
Maul is my preferred tool. I don't cut much over 20" diameter and the maul handles 95% of it - just swing away. I usually try to halve the pieces and avoid knots if possible. Sledge hammer and wedges for larger or knottier pieces. You should have several wedges because just one will get stuck in a piece and not split the log the whole way. I don't have hydraulics so for that extra little bit that just won't split I break out the chainsaw and make some chunks. I used a 6 lb maul for years before giving it to my son then I bought an 8 lb maul. I don't really notice the extra 2 lbs. swinging but it does split a lot easier.
 

red oak

Minister of Fire
Sep 7, 2011
1,294
northwest Virginia
Also for the wood id I'm pretty sure that is red oak - as you can guess my favorite firewood! Usually splits easy, great BTUs, and plentiful in my area BUT takes 3 years c/s/s to dry properly.
 

Wawa Coffee

Member
Jul 24, 2016
76
SEPA
Maul is my preferred tool. I don't cut much over 20" diameter and the maul handles 95% of it - just swing away. I usually try to halve the pieces and avoid knots if possible. Sledge hammer and wedges for larger or knottier pieces. You should have several wedges because just one will get stuck in a piece and not split the log the whole way. I don't have hydraulics so for that extra little bit that just won't split I break out the chainsaw and make some chunks. I used a 6 lb maul for years before giving it to my son then I bought an 8 lb maul. I don't really notice the extra 2 lbs. swinging but it does split a lot easier.

My preferred tool - Stihl Pro Splitting Maul - it is an amazing beast. I have wedges but don't love using them.

Copy on the wood ID. Good to know. Thanks!
 

CincyBurner

Minister of Fire
Mar 10, 2015
598
SW Ohio
My preferred tool - Stihl Pro Splitting Maul - it is an amazing beast. I have wedges but don't love using them.
The Stihl Pro splitting maul is my favorite maul too.
I'm with you on not liking wedges, but definitely useful getting the big stuff down to size.
 

JSeery

Feeling the Heat
Feb 12, 2015
253
Irvington, NY
When I have really big rounds I can't lift onto the splitter and are even too large to manipulate/roll over to the splitter, my combo of fiskars isocore maul plus two wedges does the trick nicely. Put the 1st wedge in the outer rings, get it started, once a crack forms start pounding the second wedge further down the crack. Once pieces are manageable, split them down with the sharp edge of the maul or switch to a lighter axe. It's a great workout.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B014M9LQGG/?tag=hearthamazon-20
 

Wood Duck

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2009
4,790
Central PA
I just use a maul or splitting ax and keep hitting it until it splits. I have split a dozen or more cords of ash this way.
 

Jay106n

Minister of Fire
Apr 1, 2015
779
Litchfield County, CT
Ash will split if you look at it hard enough. It will go no matter which method you choose. ID: Red Oak. I have about 4 cord of it c/s/s on summer #2.
 

D8Chumley

Minister of Fire
Jun 25, 2013
1,873
Collegeville PA
#1 problem is storage. I can only hold 2 split cords in my shed, and I have probably 2 cords in rounds stacked on pallets and racks near the shed. I might just go grab a few 4x4's tomorrow and pick up some more of the rounds that are left.
Bring it over here, I'll "store it" for ya ;)
 
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