Hard to split wood question

ramron67

New Member
Jan 15, 2021
8
Massachusetts
The other day, the city trimmed a large oak tree on my street and I took a 1 foot diameter by 5 foot length home with me. (The city allows you to claim wood as long as you don't need tools to remove it...)
This afternoon, I cut it to length and went to split it, with my sledgehammer and wedge and for the life of me I could not get the wood to split.
I recently split about a 1/2 cord of wood in a couple of afternoons, with no issues, but that was wood that had been lying around for a couple of seasons.
Do I need to let this wood go through a winter season so that it will be easier to split next year? Should I try again later in the summer when it has dried out a bit.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,129
South Puget Sound, WA
Some wood is easier to split than others. Oak, I think is easier when green and wet. Madrona is the same way. It splits very nicely when green. When it is dry it is a real bear to split without power equipment.
 

Simonkenton

Minister of Fire
Feb 27, 2014
1,893
Marshall NC
Can you post some pics of this wood? It sounds more like hickory than oak.
 

hickoryhoarder

Minister of Fire
Apr 5, 2013
579
Indiana
I hear various opinions on this on hearth.com. But for me, seasoned wood always splits easier with a maul than green does.

But as hard as you worked, my guess is the grain is twisted. I had some black cherry this year that was a bear, and cherry is usually a piece of cake, even fresh cut. Not just the trunk but every branch of that tree had twisted grain. Not one log split without using a wedge, the first time I've used a wedge in nine years.

If it wouldn't go with a wedge and sledgehammer right now, my inclination would be to try again next fall.
 

ramron67

New Member
Jan 15, 2021
8
Massachusetts
Can you post some pics of this wood? It sounds more like hickory than oak.
You know, now that you mention it, it does look like hickory!
I am a newbie with regard to the recognition of logs, and since most of the trees in my neighborhood are oak, I did not think of hickory.
So getting back to my original question, should I wait until next spring to split it?
 

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Jags

Moderate Moderator
Staff member
Aug 2, 2006
18,209
Northern IL
Your pictures appear to be that of the oak family. I no longer hand split, but when I did I usually went after oak as soon as I could. To me it seamed that as it dried it just got denser and tougher.
It sure sounds like you are dealing with and old wind blown yard tree.
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,140
Palmyra, WI
Oak has radial rays like these.
Sometimes splitting when they are very frozen works.
Otherwise hitting them toward the outside and flaking off slabs works, rather than right down the middle.

1.jpg
 
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TreePointer

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2010
3,115
PA
You know, now that you mention it, it does look like hickory!
I am a newbie with regard to the recognition of logs, and since most of the trees in my neighborhood are oak, I did not think of hickory.
So getting back to my original question, should I wait until next spring to split it?
You have white oak.

A good way to help confirm the ID of oak is to have a sniff inside a fresh split. It will have the distinctive smell of oak boards at your lumber supply store.

Note that even wood that has a reputation for fairly easy splitting will have some rounds that are difficult--usually rounds near branches, crotches and wood near stump/root flare. Also, a tree that grows in the open will tend to have more twisted grain than a tree of the same species that grows tall and straight in forests/wooded areas.
 
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ramron67

New Member
Jan 15, 2021
8
Massachusetts
You have white oak.

A good way to help confirm the ID of oak is to have a sniff inside a fresh split. It will have the distinctive smell of oak boards at your lumber supply store.

Note that even wood that has a reputation for fairly easy splitting will have some rounds that are difficult--usually rounds near branches, crotches and wood near stump/root flare. Also, a tree that grows in the open will tend to have more twisted grain than a tree of the same species that grows tall and straight in forests/wooded areas.
Thanks for this information. Very helpful. This tree was in fact growing on its own in front of a neighboring house.
Confirming that it is oak gave me more confidence, but I still couldn't split it. ;em
I will give it a winter and then try again...