Splitting Size, From Spring and Fall to Winter Chunks

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Did a break in burn, brought it up to operating temps using the split wood I purchased, got the house way too hot, coals and heat lasted 24 hours, very uncomfortable.
Now we are splitting next years wood and want to split a mix of sizes.
Any sage advise would be appreciated.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,897
Northern NH
Put less wood in next time:).
Stoves especially modern EPA stoves have a fairly small range of heating. They are far less able to turn down. Throwing in big blocks of wood may not work as well as EPA stoves are designed to burn it clean or not at all. Ideally for fall and spring you need a second smaller stove but few folks have the space or the motivation so the best way to go is smaller fires more often.
 

Corey

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
2,775
Midwest
Definitely good to have a range of sizes. I usually end up burning branch wood, chips and chunks from around the splitter, 'uglies' and other odds-n-ends for the first part of the season (shoulder season) then switch over to the heavier chunky splits for the real cold.

If I am actually splitting for size, I consider the wood species... obviously you don't want to split a bunch of oak down to pencil sized pieces for the shoulder season, then save pine in big chunks to get through the dead of winter. Also if the particular piece is knotty or hard to split, I usually work to just get it down to manageable size. Though it it's easy splitting, I might consider slicing it down a bit more.
 

qwee

Feeling the Heat
Jan 17, 2013
251
Idaho
This is a good question. I'm not sure of what kinds of trees you have access to in your area of Maine. But, I think it is both hardwood and softwood (?)- so a good variety. I don't have a wood stove. I have a masonry heater which burns differently from a wood stove. A masonry heater is all-in/full burn until the fire goes out.

But if I had a wood stove what would be my wood plan? I would want both hard and soft woods. I might want to mix the two, sometimes. Maybe placing the softwood below the hardwood. Also, if I was far enough ahead on firewood, I would split some big chunks of hardwood, like oak, and set them aside to dry over several years. These would be used for overnight burns.

Since soft wood dries faster, I would cut them larger than hardwoods. But if I was far enough ahead, I would cut some of the hardwood big, too. Certainly a person who just cuts everything the same size will be fine as long as the wood is dry. But, you can manipulate things to your advantage by 1) knowing your available wood types, 2) knowing your stove, 3) getting ahead on your firewood, and 4) knowing your cold season/winter.
 

Isaac Carlson

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2012
1,033
NW Wisconsin
keep a variety of wood species and sizes. I like to have some big pieces of hardwood for the dead of winter that will barely fit through the door. They will burn all day or night and make great coals. If it's -40 and I'm going to be gone all day, I fill it with big pieces.

Chunks of splitter scraps and brush will do fine for a spring/fall fire.
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
6,855
07462
I'm about 6 years ahead on my wood stacks, so my stuff is about as seasoned as outdoor splits can get, I split large now, 16-18" length and 6-9 inches wide, the idea here is that if I need something smaller, I can just re-split in the garage, no big deal, large fat oak & ash pieces seem to last the longest in my stove, so in it goes.
 

Stelcom66

Minister of Fire
Nov 6, 2014
686
Connecticut
Nice being that far ahead! I have a separate pile of chunks with a wire fence around it. Usually have those on hand in a 5 gallon bucket. If it's seasoned enough and will burn, I'll use it.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,483
Long Island NY
Put less wood in next time:).
Stoves especially modern EPA stoves have a fairly small range of heating. They are far less able to turn down. Throwing in big blocks of wood may not work as well as EPA stoves are designed to burn it clean or not at all. Ideally for fall and spring you need a second smaller stove but few folks have the space or the motivation so the best way to go is smaller fires more often.
Not all modern EPA stoves have this characteristic. Some can turn down way farther than old stoves - and still burn clean.

I would say that regardless of your stove's burning characteristics, a mix of sizes is ideal,.if only to be able to fill the box to the max. Having only big pieces in winter will result in empty spaces. (And filling with small pieces may make it go too fast.)
 

MMH

Minister of Fire
Jan 21, 2019
681
NV
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First, shoulder season = small fires. Small fires typically mean small loads. Pic of stove is my first fire, this morning actually. 5 total pieces in there all small that put together maybe would have been 2-3 avg sized splits. This brought stove to temp lasted about 3-4 hrs and took my house from 64.5 to 72 F. Obviously this depends on your set up your stove the temps out and what the days going to do. For example today was sunny in the 60-70 range so I don’t need anything crazy, just need to take the chill off. However if today was going to be cloudy and in the 40s I would have used normal splits etc/changed my plan.

Second, if able, have soft woods and hardwoods and split accordingly. Soft wood for shoulder and hardwood for winter. Some of us have nothing but soft woods. In top pic zoom in and look at those splits. It’s nice to have a variety of shapes. Bigger pieces for winter, smaller for shoulder season. And as mentioned small pieces to fill the gaps your bigger pieces will create. Size wise, I end up sawing to 16” but inevitably you always end up with shorter pieces or those knotty ones or your uglies or whatever you call them. I call them my “shorties.” I use these for shoulder season, or during the days when I’m home and can baby my stove etc.

Thirdly, there’s a million ways to skin this cat; lots of good advice here but experiment and play around a bit. Find what you like and what works for you.
 
MMH, well thought out and expressed post, thanks.
My baby is taking a bit of adjusting to. She has a huge thermal mass (for me), takes quite a bit to get warm and once she gets up to temp just keeps on pumping out the heat.
The heating season is just starting, sure to get used to wood burning again, good to consider all these variables, cut to length, oh no! :cool:
 
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BIGChrisNH

Minister of Fire
Dec 16, 2015
583
New Hampshire
I try to split larger these days, as stated above, if I need smaller pieces I just create them from larger splits right there next to the stove.
 
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awicherr

Member
Sep 5, 2020
63
Ohio
I usually split dependant on the wood honestly if it basically falls apart I split smaller if it's knoty or stringy I leave it bigger but it depends on your stash if you have enough to season correctly split it all big if you will be trying to use it next year split it small
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,765
Woolwich nj
I split all 3.. large medium and small.. All get thrown in the woodshed together and mixed. I split alot of square and rectangle so I can pack my box and get the longest overnight burn I can. That said I also split however with the rest of the wood for day burning... I keep a wood rack at the back of the house and when we load it up every so oten the wood get separated.. large overnight to the left.. medium in the middle.. small to the right.. when the wood gets brought in.. theres a rack for overnight.. and a rack for medium and small... just grab what you need.. only fill up what your low on..

20221014_155806.jpg 20221014_155748.jpg
 
I usually split dependant on the wood honestly if it basically falls apart I split smaller if it's knoty or stringy I leave it bigger but it depends on your stash if you have enough to season correctly split it all big if you will be trying to use it next year split it small
Size and seasoning, great point.
Learning about Oak, I guess the hardest firewood to get seasoned. Finishing up next years splitting now, oak is getting split smaller for sure.
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,765
Woolwich nj
Size and seasoning, great point.
Learning about Oak, I guess the hardest firewood to get seasoned. Finishing up next years splitting now, oak is getting split smaller for sure.

that is a complete mistake to split oak small.. its a dence hardwood.. the advantage of it is its ability to burn long and pack many BTUs per split.. oak is not hard to season at all.. its seasons like any other wood.. it just takes a little longer is all.. You want your oak like the pictures above.. 4.5x4.5 inches or a little larger. the larger the wood and denser the slower the burn.. if you want small wood to get the fire going/make coles ect.. maple cherry ash poplar are your friends in that category.. oak, hickory, copper beach.. all on the thicker side..
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,483
Long Island NY
Unless you need to get it dry sooner because you are starting up your 3 year cycle. Then it is smart to split any wood a bit smaller - much better than burning big hunks that are still too wet.

I agree that once the rotation is on track, it's nice to have some (indeed square!) big pieces of dense wood.
 
Unless you need to get it dry sooner because you are starting up your 3 year cycle. Then it is smart to split any wood a bit smaller - much better than burning big hunks that are still too wet.

I agree that once the rotation is on track, it's nice to have some (indeed square!) big pieces of dense wood.
Super points of view on this, thanks all.
Yes, first winter burning in over 22 years, lots to learn all over again.
Stay warm and toasty.
 
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Garbanzo62

Feeling the Heat
Aug 25, 2022
257
Connecticut
First year here also. I have some stacked from two trees that came down in a storm a few years ago and have a bunch of red oak stacked from this year. Those were both done with hydraulic splitter. Added to tht is a bunch for Ash from Dead trees that have fallen. Keeping fingers crossed that some of that is ready in case the stuff from a few years ago runs out. However, All the Ash is maul split, so the size control is a bit limited. I just bucked up two more fallen dead Ash. Should I even try to 'Go smaller' with a hand maul. Generally, popping 6 to 8 pieces out of a round.
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,765
Woolwich nj
First year here also. I have some stacked from two trees that came down in a storm a few years ago and have a bunch of red oak stacked from this year. Those were both done with hydraulic splitter. Added to tht is a bunch for Ash from Dead trees that have fallen. Keeping fingers crossed that some of that is ready in case the stuff from a few years ago runs out. However, All the Ash is maul split, so the size control is a bit limited. I just bucked up two more fallen dead Ash. Should I even try to 'Go smaller' with a hand maul. Generally, popping 6 to 8 pieces out of a round.

The wors thing you can do is hope the woods dry.. get a moisture meter and check the moisture content of the wood you may have to ues. Separate out what is dry enough.. or purchase some compressed bricks NOW while its available.. because dead of winter.. your probably going to be SOOL...
 
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Garbanzo62

Feeling the Heat
Aug 25, 2022
257
Connecticut
The wors thing you can do is hope the woods dry.. get a moisture meter and check the moisture content of the wood you may have to ues. Separate out what is dry enough.. or purchase some compressed bricks NOW while its available.. because dead of winter.. your probably going to be SOOL...
Have a Moisture meter, the old stuff is at about 13%. The Ash was running around 24 - 27%. Not even going to test the Oak as it was split late July. Since it is my first year, I have no clue what the burn rate will be. I am thinking if the older stuff seems to be going too fast that I could put one or two pieces of the Ash in each laod to extend. I know that is not optimal.
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,765
Woolwich nj
Have a Moisture meter, the old stuff is at about 13%. The Ash was running around 24 - 27%. Not even going to test the Oak as it was split late July. Since it is my first year, I have no clue what the burn rate will be. I am thinking if the older stuff seems to be going too fast that I could put one or two pieces of the Ash in each laod to extend. I know that is not optimal.

thats why Im saying.. you might wat to pick up some bricks while they are around.. people are paying more then 6 bucks for heating oil and it may go higher.. anyone with a stove or getting a stove will be purchasing.. this is kinda going to be like ammo shortage in early 21
 

Garbanzo62

Feeling the Heat
Aug 25, 2022
257
Connecticut
thats why Im saying.. you might wat to pick up some bricks while they are around.. people are paying more then 6 bucks for heating oil and it may go higher.. anyone with a stove or getting a stove will be purchasing.. this is kinda going to be like ammo shortage in early 21
Well I estimate that I have a little over a cord that has been sitting for over 3 years. Meter test pit it around 13. I just bucked up two (actually 3 one was a double trunk) dead fallen Ash trees. 15 min ago I split one of the rounds from the top part of those and it was 15% in the dead center of the round. I'm assuming that will go up as I get to rounds cut from lower down. I left some of the Arm size branches in the woods, thinking maybe going and retrieving some of those now.
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,765
Woolwich nj
Well I estimate that I have a little over a cord that has been sitting for over 3 years. Meter test pit it around 13. I just bucked up two (actually 3 one was a double trunk) dead fallen Ash trees. 15 min ago I split one of the rounds from the top part of those and it was 15% in the dead center of the round. I'm assuming that will go up as I get to rounds cut from lower down. I left some of the Arm size branches in the woods, thinking maybe going and retrieving some of those now.

Id grab up at much of the limb wood as I could.. Thata ash will help you out.. ash will still drop MC over the next couple months.. How much ash do you think you got out of the trees
 

Garbanzo62

Feeling the Heat
Aug 25, 2022
257
Connecticut
Id grab up at much of the limb wood as I could.. Thata ash will help you out.. ash will still drop MC over the next couple months.. How much ash do you think you got out of the trees
The first picture is from the top half of one of the double trunk that was split and stacked., Guestimating it is between 1/4 and 1/3 of a cord. The second picture is the rounds from the rest. There are approx 60 rounds varying from about 10" diameter to between 14 and 16" in diameter. I had to split the double trunk with a maul because it was too heavy to move by itself. I can tell there is a lot of moisture in those pieces.

IMG_0306[1].JPG IMG_0307[1].JPG
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,765
Woolwich nj
The first picture is from the top half of one of the double trunk that was split and stacked., Guestimating it is between 1/4 and 1/3 of a cord. The second picture is the rounds from the rest. There are approx 60 rounds varying from about 10" diameter to between 14 and 16" in diameter. I had to split the double trunk with a maul because it was too heavy to move by itself. I can tell there is a lot of moisture in those pieces.

View attachment 301276 View attachment 301277

Id split the rounds at least in half.. they will.start to dry.. if you can split them up smaller then they might be ready to burn..