Seasoning 16" Rounds vs Splits

Jason A

New Member
Jun 27, 2018
23
Temple, New Hampshire
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How much faster do splits season compared to rounds of the same length?

This is a question that I find very difficult to get good information on. Obviously the splits will season faster than the rounds due to surface area exposed to the sun and, more importantly, the wind. But how much faster?

Does anybody out there have any experience trying to season rounds, and if so, does it even work?
 

KC Matt

Burning Hunk
Oct 29, 2016
116
Kansas City
I've never tried it, but you might be able to season a round in a kiln. This winter has been brutal and we have burned through this years supply and are burning next years currently. This is red oak that was split and stacked 2 summers ago and is covered by tarps. To give you an idea how much moisture the bark holds, the splits that have ANY bark on them are still wet while the splits that are completely bark free are dry enough to burn. I'm having to dig through the stack and find the splits with zero bark.

Your rounds, depending on species, will take many, many years to season and may be dry rotted by the time it seasons. If you at least split the rounds in half and stacked them bark side up, it would eventually season out. Maybe 5 years stacked off the ground, in the open, single rows?
 

Jason A

New Member
Jun 27, 2018
23
Temple, New Hampshire
I definitely intend to split them in the next couple of weeks. Especially because it's mostly oak and maple (with some beech and birch). This question is just always on my mind this time of year so I thought I'd bring it to the group.

I hear you about this winter! We are well into next years supply.
 

KC Matt

Burning Hunk
Oct 29, 2016
116
Kansas City
Here's another anecdote: before buying a splitter, I used to keep a large round for a year and then use it for a chopping block. The last one was a 30" silver maple that was 4 years old when the splitter came along. After 4 years it was spalted, soggy, dry rotted trash and even after seasoning for a year it wasn't much good as firewood.
 
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MissMac

Feeling the Heat
Dec 4, 2017
415
NW Ontario
I can tell you from experience that you need to split all of the birch, no matter what diameter. That bark is just too good at holding out/holding in moisture. You won’t get them below 20%MC unless you split them.

Anything with bark I’d split at least in half. I’ve left jack pine rounds alone that are barkless - probably 6-7” in diameter and they season fine, but again - no bark.
 

Jason A

New Member
Jun 27, 2018
23
Temple, New Hampshire
I should have it all split and restacked this week. I'm going to leave a couple rounds of each species and test them against the splits next season. I'll report the MC levels back here then. That's if I remember of course, which is a big if!
 
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Sawset

Feeling the Heat
Feb 14, 2015
471
Palmyra, WI
I've found that elm, maple, birch, hickory, rot from the inside and throughout (think spaulted woods). Oak, locust, cherry, will rot from the outside, very slowly. Locust has a natural preservative and can last decades. So without splitting (and drying) the first type will be soft and useless in a short time. The second type can last a long time with only surface decay.
 
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Sawset

Feeling the Heat
Feb 14, 2015
471
Palmyra, WI
I remember reading about copsing woodlot management, something apparently done more so in parts of Europe where mature woods can be more sparse. There were several other reasons for doing so, like taking advantage of faster juvinile growth rates, less land required, easier handling of smaller rounds, easier cutting, and - not having to split the wood. Hmm.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
4,608
Northern NH
I disagree on copising wood being a preferable method for firewood. Young growth is going to be lower density than mature growth. I want to minimize the volume of wood I need to stack and store and using mature wood is going to cut my volume down i need to deal with,.
 

Sawset

Feeling the Heat
Feb 14, 2015
471
Palmyra, WI
I disagree on copising wood being a preferable method for firewood. Young growth is going to be lower density than mature growth. I want to minimize the volume of wood I need to stack and store and using mature wood is going to cut my volume down i need to deal with,.
Heartwood is certainly better, more dense, more value for the time handling. I'm thinking the circumstances warranted it at some point in some cultures, but not preferred (extreme wood shortage in Britain in the 1700s)? Going back and seeing the op's title, 16" vs splits, what I said now has no relevance, except for maybe that smaller rounds may need no splitting. I have seen the studies out of fairbanks, where unsplit larger rounds failed to dry for as long as the testing went on. Wish there was more local information.
 

ct01r

New Member
Nov 10, 2018
50
Eastern Pa.
Jason, here's a reference that might be helpful. Last year I helped a guy take down his norwegian maple. I cut half of it up for my pot belly stove in my shop ( 8 inches long). Some of the pieces were twisted where the branches came together and I had to cut them with a chain saw into "chunks", and some of it were branches that I just cut to lengths. I weighed a bunch of random pieces; most were 8-12 pounds green. Last week I re-weighed some of them. The pieces that I had chunked had the least amount of bark (only one side or no bark at all), and lost the most weight. some pieces lost 2 pounds of moisture, so I took them inside and split them after they warmed up and they were running around 22%. No low enough to burn, but not bad for harvesting in May/June this past summer, and stacked in a barn with no sun and minimal air flow. The branches that had only the ends exposed lost less that a pound of moisture. Same size, same original weight, but bark all the way around and only drying from the ends.

I'm a big believer in splitting the wood for proper drying. The more bare would that's exposed, the faster it'll dry. I don't always get around to splitting right away, but try to be careful about what I have available and getting it ready to dry before winter. Curt
 
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billb3

Minister of Fire
Dec 14, 2007
4,536
SE Mass
I remember reading about copsing woodlot management, something apparently done more so in parts of Europe where mature woods can be more sparse. There were several other reasons for doing so, like taking advantage of faster juvinile growth rates, less land required, easier handling of smaller rounds, easier cutting, and - not having to split the wood. Hmm.
coppicing and it's just another form of woodlot management. Not all trees are amenable to it. Fro what I've seen it's more common in warmer parts of the world where burning branches and sticks in rocket type and size stoves used more primarily for cooking and small heat loads are the norm. Don't necessarily need the big tools and heavy duty implements we take for granted. I'm not so sure the system would work so well in less temperate climate and once a local civilization has cut down all the trees - what's left ? Hauling wood from further and further distances or making do with what's available.
 
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billb3

Minister of Fire
Dec 14, 2007
4,536
SE Mass
I've left 16" eastern white pine in rounds for a little under a year and they've gotten down to 20% MC in that time.
I split about 3/4 cord of them about 6 weeks ago. So what's that, half-fast ? LOL.
I wouldn't apply that observation to hardwood, and certainly not to birch unless you can keep birch very dry it usually rots if not split.
I've left maple and oak in rounds but never took a MM to anything to document what kind of time I lost by not splitting it ASAP. I wouldn't even want to hazard a guess.
 

TreePointer

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2010
3,081
PA
I recall reading at least one university study on moisture content vs. time on this subject. I don't have time to look it up right now, but it did compare logs in the round vs splits.
 

EODMSgt

Member
Dec 11, 2018
141
White Mountain Region, NH
Regarding larger birch rounds, what I do is while bucking the rounds in the woods, I make a slice down the side with the chainsaw and peel the bark off before hauling them home. For smaller (under 10"), I don't even worry about it and leave the bark on (as long as they are green and not dead). I have no problem with rot in the rounds while they sit through winter until I can split them in the spring.
 
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maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
9,879
Nova Scotia
I sometimes 'unzip' small birch also. Before I cut into rounds I drag the saw down the length of the tree or limb, making one long cut through the bark. It does help moisture get out. Sometimes I will roll it over & do the other side too.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
4,608
Northern NH
I dont even peel the bark off white birch. I just slit it once for smaller dimeter rounds and twice on larger diameter and it self peels most of the time. By the time I buck it and get around to splitting it I usually can just unwrap the bark easily and throw it in a box for fire starter. Only time it rots is if the tree had already started rotting when it was standing (which is quite frequent with white birch). There is a company that advertises in Northern Woodlands (a great read about the woods in the region) that buys the rights to strip the bark before the birches are cut. They come in and climb the trees and take the bark off before the loggers go ahead and drop the trees. http://www.birchbarkvt.com/. I expect they only deal with big cuts to make it worth the travel but nice way to convert a liability into an asset.
 

Woody5506

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2017
694
Rochester NY
Thinking maybe Choke Cherry should be treated the same. Same type of bark and coves off nearly the same.
Is this the same as white cherry? We have a lot of these in my area, and I have a pretty huge one in my yard I'd probably take down if my wife and I didn't like it's springtime bloom so much. I took a few down at my Uncle's a couple years ago. The stuff I burned this year was a mixture of nicely seasoned/partially dead wood with dried bark, and some had seasoned wood but the bark intact and super wet right underneath it which made it nearly impossible to burn. Ended up weeding it out of the burn stack and putting it back into another stack that will sit for 2 more summers. The bark is pretty birch-like but thicker.
 

Chas0218

Feeling the Heat
Sep 20, 2015
482
Beaver Dams New York
I've stacked wood with the bark up and bark down the wood bark down seasoned much faster in the same location. I will never stack bark up again. I did this with Cherry.I always try to stack bark down if possible. I also top cover. I think if I were not covering at all it might work better bark up but you want the sun to hit the split side and evaporate the bark will hold the moisture in the wood more so logic says it should be down.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
9,879
Nova Scotia
My thought has always been bark up, since any wet coming down will get shedded downward. Bark on the bottom could catch & hold it. Sun will only mostly hit the top layer too.

Just my thoughts...
 

Kevin Weis

Minister of Fire
Mar 3, 2018
771
Union Bridge, Md
Is this the same as white cherry? We have a lot of these in my area, and I have a pretty huge one in my yard I'd probably take down if my wife and I didn't like it's springtime bloom so much. I took a few down at my Uncle's a couple years ago. The stuff I burned this year was a mixture of nicely seasoned/partially dead wood with dried bark, and some had seasoned wood but the bark intact and super wet right underneath it which made it nearly impossible to burn. Ended up weeding it out of the burn stack and putting it back into another stack that will sit for 2 more summers. The bark is pretty birch-like but thicker.
Never heard it called White Cherry. But what you describe sounds the same. The wood is just a little lighter in color than Black Cherry and not as dense. Bark is smooth and will peel off in strips once split. Black Cherry bark not smooth has thin square plates on older sections.
 

Woody5506

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2017
694
Rochester NY
Never heard it called White Cherry. But what you describe sounds the same. The wood is just a little lighter in color than Black Cherry and not as dense. Bark is smooth and will peel off in strips once split. Black Cherry bark not smooth has thin square plates on older sections.
Yup, must be the same stuff. I've gotten a bit of black cherry. The choke cherry seems to be more abundant in my area. I've never heard it called white cherry either until my Uncle said it. Google image shows white cherry and choke cherry pretty much looking identical