Easiest Wood to Split by Hand?

Feb 2, 2020
226
Madison, WI
Oak is great for me too! Followed closely by cherry and birch! Avoid hand splitting hickory and elm if at all possible, those guys are the reason I bought a wood splitter! And pine, even the scrawny stuff. It's absolutely unforgiving and just laughs at you as you wail away at it with your wedges and axes.
 

JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,638
Wisconsin Dells, WI
yep, red oak and some soft maples are the easiest we have around here. White oak isn't too bad either, but not quite as easy as red oak.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
696
Eastern Long Island NY
Oak is fantastic, maple (if no knots) too. Cherry I'll know soon :)

But the fresh pine I just split was a pain. I was surprised by that. Too stringy for my liking - but I have to do what I have to do to be able to heat next winter :)
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
696
Eastern Long Island NY
oh, and btw, red oak is EASILY beaten by Sassafras w.r.t. ease of splitting.
Sassafras is the bomb - at least, during the first whack when you have forgotten how easy it goes, and thus swung the axe way too hard, leading to pieces flying away for 50 ft...
 
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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,151
NE Ohio
Ash ranks up there with red oak for splitting.
As long as it was a woods tree...if it was a yard tree, or from a fence row, some of them are almost as gnarly, stringy and tough as elm!
 

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
810
Massachusetts
Followed closely by cherry and birch!
I find cherry to be inconsistent. Sometimes it's nice and will slab easily but often times it's a twisted mess. I had about a dozen 28" black cherry rounds that had no outer visible knits but were BEARS too split. Looked like a towel being rung out inside.

RE shoulder season wood - I use a lot of red maple. Honestly red maple is my primary wood as it's so abundant here but when it gets cold I mix in the cherry, ash, and oak to prolong the burns. 100% red maple fires are hot and fast. Next year I have a bunch of box elder to mix in during shoulder season on top of 3-4 cords of red maple.
 
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fvhowler

Member
May 4, 2018
82
Heart of NC
White Oak, Red Oak, Post Oak and Chestnut Oak. Not only do they split rather easily (straight grained) the sound of the wood busting just adds to the experience...and then there's the smell of fresh oak, particuarly WO. Splitting by hand does have its rewards.
 
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kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
5,710
07462
I like forest tree's vs yard tree's, forest tree's no matter the species (except elm family) are straight grain and uniform, yard tree's tend to have a twist in the wood due to changing prevailing winds, the more open the yard, the more twist is in them.
 

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
976
SW Missoura
I would say red oak is the easiest for me though I'm limited to oaks and hickories only on my place. I have split some species of pine...longleaf I believe. It was a absolute nightmare to split but it was a park tree from town.
 
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Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
810
Massachusetts
I like forest tree's vs yard tree's, forest tree's no matter the species (except elm family) are straight grain and uniform, yard tree's tend to have a twist in the wood due to changing prevailing winds, the more open the yard, the more twist is in them.
I agree with this 100%. You can always tell a yard tree in a nice pile of logs and you just know it's going to be a PITA to split.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,648
Downeast Maine
I like forest tree's vs yard tree's, forest tree's no matter the species (except elm family) are straight grain and uniform, yard tree's tend to have a twist in the wood due to changing prevailing winds, the more open the yard, the more twist is in them.
I can't stand splitting any of the softwoods growing on the edge of our woods. My 8# maul just bounced off of the big ones or got stuck on a knot. I couldn't get through without wedges and quickly gave up for a hydraulic splitter.
 

CombatChris

Member
Mar 27, 2014
127
Central NC
Black Walnut. Split so easy I could put 2 ~18" rounds on top of each other and split both. Fiskars X27.
 
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hickoryhoarder

Minister of Fire
Apr 5, 2013
579
Indiana
Black cherry and ash. Provided they're not twisted. But with straight grain, they split like nothing. I'm an old, skinny guy with bad joints.

These are the woods I give to beginners, especially those without big muscles.
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
696
Eastern Long Island NY
Black cherry and ash. Provided they're not twisted. But with straight grain, they split like nothing. I'm an old, skinny guy with bad joints.

These are the woods I give to beginners, especially those without big muscles.
I know; this year I split an ash tree, and a black cherry tree (18-22" dia each). Sassafras is far, far easier to split, at least when comparing straight grained rounds (as I was lucky to have for all).
 

CincyBurner

Minister of Fire
Mar 10, 2015
560
SW Ohio
I've hand split black locust, ash, oak, Osage, hickory, maple that have split easily. This week I split some Sophora (Japanese pagoda tree) from a local scrounge. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Styphnolobium_japonicum
Easiest wood I've split. Seems like I just touch it with X-27 and it explodes apart.
The wood seems dense and stable. Woodworkers like it.
I'll have to report how it burns once seasoned.