Splitting bitternut hickory? Kicking my butt!!

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Apr 28, 2013
61
Ontario Canada
Hello there folks! So I just scored a pick-up load of hickory that a friends parents had dropped last year! They wanted it gone but it was all the larger stuff that they didn't buck up as the rounds were 20"- 30" pieces! No
Match for the 372! Now that I have got the wood home, I wanted to get it split and stacked to allow it to season a bit more! I believe it is fairly dry as it was cut a little over a year ago and it is splintering on some of the ends!

So problem is I have a 8lb maul, fiskars x27 and a little 4 ton electric splitter, non of which seems to be splitting it! I first tried the x27 and it seems to stick into the rounds and not really do an effective job! The 8lb maul takes about 30 strikes and I can finally get the smaller rounds to split into two! The splitter just bogs down and won't even split the edges off! I am thinking I need a sludge hammer and some wedges or just go borrow a larger splitter! Any thoughts, the rounds are fairly straight and not really Knarly! How does splitting hickory go for others?
 
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ScotO

Guest
Splitting hickory can sometimes make life miserable. I've stalled my splitter out on a piece here and there....eventually got the pieces busted up, though. Don't try splitting it right in half, take a corner of the round off and then progressively work towards the center. Usually, when you get a couple pieces off of the round, it will release some of the tension in the round.....

If that don't work, you'll have to go the hammer and wedge route.

Either way, like Bret said above, that's some really strong wood......it ain't gonna be easy!
 

fireview2788

Minister of Fire
Apr 20, 2011
972
SW Ohio
Over the past two years I've split over 5 cords of bitternut and you need a splitter. It was no match for my 22ton Huskee but I was VERY glad I wasn't hand splitting it. As others have said, it's a stringy booger.


fv
 

HDRock

Minister of Fire
Oct 25, 2012
2,239
Grand Blanc, Mi
I am going to throw this in here
I haven't tried to split any of the shag bark Hickory , I acquired yet, Is it tough to split ?? will my 7 ton electric get it done ??
 

Bret Chase

Minister of Fire
Jan 15, 2013
870
Maine
I am going to throw this in here
I haven't tried to split any of the shag bark Hickory , I acquired yet, Is it tough to split ?? will my 7 ton electric get it done ??

unless it's a sapling..... no.
 
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HDRock

Minister of Fire
Oct 25, 2012
2,239
Grand Blanc, Mi
unless it's a sapling..... no.
No It is not tough to split ?? or No my 7 ton electric won't get it done ??

The Hickory in question Is this
 

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Apr 28, 2013
61
Ontario Canada
Ok splitting update! I decided to give it another go today when I got back from running a few errands and helping a friend unload and stack some ash! I put my splitting block down a hill a little bit from my stance point, and tried the x27 with all my might! To my surprise I was able to split the largest rounds with some real good strikes! The smaller rounds where the limbs were growing are pretty much impssible for me to do with the 4ton electric or by hand! I got a good chunk of the larger rounds split up! Taking some Knicks out of my x27 it seems tho! Either way I'm feelin good that I got some split, as I didn't want to be defeated by this load of wood! Time for a few cold ones and a bruins victory!
 

HDRock

Minister of Fire
Oct 25, 2012
2,239
Grand Blanc, Mi
Ok splitting update! I decided to give it another go today when I got back from running a few errands and helping a friend unload and stack some ash! I put my splitting block down a hill a little bit from my stance point, and tried the x27 with all my might! To my surprise I was able to split the largest rounds with some real good strikes! The smaller rounds where the limbs were growing are pretty much impssible for me to do with the 4ton electric or by hand! I got a good chunk of the larger rounds split up! Taking some Knicks out of my x27 it seems tho! Either way I'm feelin good that I got some split, as I didn't want to be defeated by this load of wood! Time for a few cold ones and a bruins victory!
Good to here U put a dent in them anyway :) U may have to noodle some
 
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Bret Chase

Minister of Fire
Jan 15, 2013
870
Maine
No It is not tough to split ?? or No my 7 ton electric won't get it done ??

The Hickory in question Is this
your 7 ton isn't going to touch it.... hickory of that size will make my 29 ton splitter kick into low gear.... it will get it done... but definitely with far more than 7 tons of force....
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,727
Philadelphia
Hello there folks! So I just scored a pick-up load of hickory that a friends parents had dropped last year! They wanted it gone but it was all the larger stuff that they didn't buck up as the rounds were 20"- 30" pieces! No
Match for the 372! Now that I have got the wood home, I wanted to get it split and stacked to allow it to season a bit more! I believe it is fairly dry as it was cut a little over a year ago and it is splintering on some of the ends!

So problem is I have a 8lb maul, fiskars x27 and a little 4 ton electric splitter, non of which seems to be splitting it! I first tried the x27 and it seems to stick into the rounds and not really do an effective job! The 8lb maul takes about 30 strikes and I can finally get the smaller rounds to split into two! The splitter just bogs down and won't even split the edges off! I am thinking I need a sludge hammer and some wedges or just go borrow a larger splitter! Any thoughts, the rounds are fairly straight and not really Knarly! How does splitting hickory go for others?

That is the most exciting post I have ever read. Period.
 

bogydave

Minister of Fire
Dec 4, 2009
8,426
So Cent ALASKA
Great fire wood ,
so in the end, it'll be worth the extra work ;)
 

Brewmonster

Burning Hunk
Jan 6, 2011
220
Central NJ
Oh, please. I lost an eighty-foot bitternut hickory last fall. It came to about two cords altogether and I split it all by hand. Stringy, yes, but by no means the most difficult wood I ever dealt with. And I am no Macho Man; I'm a flabby 61-year-old and splitting wood is my only exercise. If I can do it, anyone can.
 
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scroungerjeff

Burning Hunk
Feb 4, 2012
146
S Jersey
I hand split half a cord of mockernut hickory last fall. It was a stringy, tough mess. I actually think it will be best served to grill meat. I guess the btu rating of red oak, which splits like a dream, is underrated.
 

TimJ

Minister of Fire
Apr 10, 2012
1,231
Southeast Indiana
I hand split alot of hickory without too much of a problem. Recently I split some good size rounds and it was all my 27 ton wanted.
 

Thistle

Minister of Fire
Dec 16, 2010
4,205
Central IA
Oh, please. I lost an eighty-foot bitternut hickory last fall. It came to about two cords altogether and I split it all by hand. Stringy, yes, but by no means the most difficult wood I ever dealt with. And I am no Macho Man; I'm a flabby 61-year-old and splitting wood is my only exercise. If I can do it, anyone can.
Precisely. I'm no Hercules either,almost 50 & just 5'7",170 lbs.Sure the occasional one is somewhat difficult,but over the past 30+ yrs of hand splitting I've found that most any size Honey Locust & any Mulberry or Black Cherry that's 2-3 yrs old is much tougher.

And dont even mention green American Elm or a big old Silver Maple yardbird or fence row specimen........!!!
 
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HDRock

Minister of Fire
Oct 25, 2012
2,239
Grand Blanc, Mi
your 7 ton isn't going to touch it.... hickory of that size will make my 29 ton splitter kick into low gear.... it will get it done... but definitely with far more than 7 tons of force....
Well I split up some nasty elm with my splitter , , so we will see how it goes with the Hickory
 

bogydave

Minister of Fire
Dec 4, 2009
8,426
So Cent ALASKA
Some problems are good problems to have :)

Hickory fire wood would be one ::P
 

Auzzie Gumtree

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2012
535
i have found that sometimes splitting wood by hand is not about brute force but more about technique. When i first started trying to split wood i would try to split it in half and would get very frustrated very quickly. The only way to split the majority of the gum trees i get is to start at the edge and work my way way around. Once you have done a few cords you soon get to know if a round is going to split or 'knot'. You also get to know where to hit the round and the difference between one angle and another is extreme.

I still split all mine by hand although i do keep looking at gas powered splitters......... but its the only exercise i get.
 

Corey

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
2,464
Midwest
i have found that sometimes splitting wood by hand is not about brute force but more about technique. When i first started trying to split wood i would try to split it in half and would get very frustrated very quickly. The only way to split the majority of the gum trees i get is to start at the edge and work my way way around. Once you have done a few cords you soon get to know if a round is going to split or 'knot'. You also get to know where to hit the round and the difference between one angle and another is extreme.

I still split all mine by hand although i do keep looking at gas powered splitters......... but its the only exercise i get.
Good advice here. When splitting by hand, some woods...elm, hickory, hedge, etc - I would say, give up on trying to split those nice pie-shaped wedges - unless the wood has dried some and a natural crack has formed through the center of the log - you might be able to open that up. If the wood is green, or no cracks are showing, focus on cleaving semi-circular planks off the outer edge, then go back around and cleave off triangular chunks left from that, then you might be able to split the inner core of the wood.

On big rounds by hand, I try to aim about 4-5 inches in from the bark and parallel to the growth rings - this will usually knock a semi-circular chunk out. A couple of those and you may relieve some of the stress and allow the piece to be split through the center.
 
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HDRock

Minister of Fire
Oct 25, 2012
2,239
Grand Blanc, Mi
your 7 ton isn't going to touch it.... hickory of that size will make my 29 ton splitter kick into low gear.... it will get it done... but definitely with far more than 7 tons of force....
Just a little update here
Split some of that Shag Bark Hickory today , the HF 7 ton splitter had no problem at all splittin it ::P Much easier than Elm
Wasn't the biggest pieces I have but was part of the trunk that I noodled
 

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