Split & peel means wet

danham Posted By danham, Mar 20, 2013 at 11:49 AM

  1. danham

    Member 2.

    Jan 12, 2012
    Cape Cod, MA
    Only my 2nd season, so I'm still learning and of course dealing with wood that by now is only barely fit to burn (but banking for the future).

    At any rate, while trying to pick out the least objectionable pieces to finish the season (he said, on the first day of alleged spring), I noticed something that strikes me as another "field test" for moisture content.

    Even though our wood arrives already split, some of the pieces are too big for our firebox or need to be split to have a prayer of burning easily. Whenever I go to that trouble, I also grab the moisutre meter, but I have to say its readings are sometimes pretty suspect other than to give me a general indication of "good" or "bad."

    But here's what I've noticed. When a piece is partially split and can be pulled apart the rest of the way by hand, it behaves one way if dry, another if wet. Dry pieces pull apart with a sharp crack. Wet pieces tend to have strips that hang on and peel off the other half, sometimes rolling up like a sardine tin lid if you twist one of the pieces -- just like a small green branch would do if you tried to break it by hand.

    Any thoughts on how reliable this "field test" is? It corresponds to the crude meter readings and to how they behave in my stove. And for me, a newbie, it's possibly a better test than weight or external appearance.

  2. Jon1270

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Aug 25, 2012
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I think that one will be highly dependent on species. Many woods split very cleanly even when dead green (thought they may not sound the same).
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  3. Applesister

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Dec 5, 2012
    Upstate NY
    Dear Dan
    If you continue over the years of making astute observations about the world around you, you will be a very smart man indeed. The religious philosophy here is the 3 year wait period. It is sound. Time. As John Wayne said once, "life is tough Pilgrim, but tougher if you're stupid."
    Its scary to think that brain surgeons guess as much as we do here. Even with years of experience...but they do. Have you ever noticed how widely across the board all the answers are?
    I feel just like you...I 'know' nothing and when I ask every person I know the same question I get as many answer as there are people.
    Sometimes wood is harder to split if you hold off till it dries a little. Sometimes it splits easier if you wait.
    Chit or go blind...
    But yes when it dries its personality changes. Moisture meters are fun but they are like Valium and Ridlin and Prozac.
    Time...Grasshopper...is what they will say.
    danham and Hills Hoard like this.
  4. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage
    Minister of Fire 2.

    Feb 14, 2007
    Dan, much of what you said is true but it does also depend upon the type of wood you have. Each species will be different.

    It might be interesting for you sometime to get hold of several different types of wood that are in log form. Then hand split it all. You might be very surprised to see the difference. You'll also no doubt find that some wood splits easiest through the heart while others split easiest slicing from the outside in. Some wood will split very easy while others you swear came right from hell because they split so hard. Another nice example on how they split is using a hydraulic splitter. Most wood will not present a problem, however, you had best know which ones might split and that split go flying like it was shot out of a slingshot. Most won't fly but if they do, make sure nobody is in its way!
    danham likes this.
  5. Hills Hoard

    Hills Hoard
    Minister of Fire 2.

    Mar 19, 2013
    Melbourne, Australia
    Ive had many battles trying to pry semi split wood apart when I should of just split it with the axe....but yes, I would imagine dryer wood should pull apart easier...generally....

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