Drying (a lot of) firewood

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dickm

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We have had to have 5 big Picea abies felled for safety reasons after the shock of Storm Arwen, so now have a pretty significant stock of trunks, everything from abour 28" diameter down to 8". (hence my questions in another post about my Stihl 048AV!). All piled up against our garden dyke at the moment and I'm debating what's the best way, and when, to process it to feed the stove next winter. Split a couple of the biggest rounds this afternoon, which took about an hour with axe and wedges. At some point, will need to hire a proper powered splitter; is it sensible to cut it all into log lengths a.s.a.p, then hire the chipper as soon as it's finished, or to leave it to dry out some more in rounds before getting the splitter? Unfortunately, my log stores are already full of part-dried stuff, so the new stuff will have to stay out.
 

Adam W.

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The longer you leave it, the tougher it gets to process.

And you could perfect your splitting technique and break the edges off as you go around the outside of the ring.



 
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Jameshow

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Also longer lengths will take longer to dry as it drys much more from the end grain than from the sides.

Plenty of air through it but still sheltered from rain is best.
 

artie

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It's been a long time since I split logs with an axe.
As a boy, one of my after school chores was to provide the firewood for our house, from a pile of tree branches 6,8,10 ft long and up to 12 inches thick, but mostly 6 inches or less.
They sat out in all weathers and all but the ones in contact with the ground dried out.
The way I remember it, they were easier split when dry.
One good strike with the axe and they flew apart as opposed to when wet the axe had to be driven 75% or more of the way through before the parts separated, usually requiring 3 or four strikes.

Maybe different woods have different characteristics.

Probably should add that they were cut into 8-10 inch lengths with a bow saw before being presented to the axe.
 

eribaMotters

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The last lot of firewood I got was two years ago. I collected 4 trailer loads, the trailer 8x4x2 ft in size. The Elm was in sections from about 16" to 6" in diameter. It took me 1 1/2 x 8 hr days to chainsaw it into 8/10" lengths, split and stack it.
I did it immediately as I've learnt from my previous errors in leaving the wood to dry out. I buggered up a chain and found it a pain to split cherry that had gone dry after being left for a year.
Do not worry about your log store being full, stack it wherever you can and it will start to dry. It is the moisture trapped in the cells that is escaping and the rain etc that falls on the outside will have little effect. You can put a sheet of ply over the top if you want, but I would not bother.
Cut, split and stack it asap, then move it into your store when you have space.

Colin
 

Jones

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In my experience hardwoods particularly oak and ash are easier to saw and split when fresh and wet. Spruce and pine though I find splits better when dryer, I don't think it makes much difference to the chainsawing though.
 

SamG340

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Youd be surprised what you can split with a cheap little 8 tonne electric log splitter.

We did a full winters worth of firewood on one of them. Even some huge 30" rounds of wet ash . They were hard to balance on the it but it split them just fine
 
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Adam W.

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Youd be surprised what you can split with a cheap little 8 tonne electric log splitter.

We did a full winters worth of firewood on one of them. Even some huge 30" rounds of wet ash . They were hard to balance on the it but it split them just fine
Log splitters involve much more handling and they are a lot slower than a properly maintained and well used splitting axe.
 

SamG340

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Log splitters involve much more handling and they are a lot slower than a properly maintained and well used splitting axe.

True but they're easier on you, less exertion. Plus anyone can do it, we had a mates 16 year old lad down to help out. Couldn't swing an axe for toffee but he can lift logs on and off the splitter all day long
 
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SamG340

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Split a couple of the biggest rounds this afternoon, which took about an hour with axe and wedges.

IMG_20220416_092126.jpg


When it's taking too long to split big rounds I run a few lines across them with the old rip saw , if you do both sides they're dead easy
 

Tony51

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You could try a "grenade" they readily available. Google will help .they are shaped to twist as you knock it in the centre . Lot less effort.
I use one on ash beech crack willow and yew works a treat. Got mine in a set,made by Roughneck .came with heavy axe and small axe.
Tony
 

recipio

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Its Norway Spruce so not good for open fires as they spark a lot. Fine for woodburning stoves though as long as you let them dry out. I think it's time to hire the biggest industrial sprlitter you can find and then a shredder. Not a job for Sunday morning if you have neighbours. :D
 

dickm

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You could try a "grenade" they readily available. Google will help .they are shaped to twist as you knock it in the centre . Lot less effort.
I use one on ash beech crack willow and yew works a treat. Got mine in a set,made by Roughneck .came with heavy axe and small axe.
Tony
Mine was £3 from a local car boot, and has split many species, even some elm with really complicated grain. I find for most species, they split more easily when at least partially dried, unless they've started to rot, when the wedge just sinks in. The same sometimes happens with softwoods; larch seems particularly prone to this.
Will probably carry on slowly splitting by hand until age says to stop. Got big strong son-in-law coming over from Michigan later this month. Now there's a thought!
BTW, Thanks to Recipio for pointing out my error, the wood is actually Abies procera, Noble fir, not Picea. Got half the name right, anyway!
 

Jameshow

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Log splitters involve much more handling and they are a lot slower than a properly maintained and well used splitting axe.
Do you have a recommendation for a good splitting axe the cheap mauls seem to be rubbish tbh.
 

Adam W.

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Haha yea but I wasn't the one doing it 😝
I noticed...good call.

Do you have a recommendation for a good splitting axe the cheap mauls seem to be rubbish tbh.

I have this, but I've put a longer handle on it.


I use the technique which the young lady demonstrates plus a golfing style wack it on the end...I'm adverse to picking the firewood up more than I have to, being a lazy arris.
 
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dickm

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Got big strong son-in-law coming over from Michigan later this month. Now there's a thought!
Might encourage him to use the splitting tools, but will keep him well away from chainsaw, having seen the 5mm groove he routed along the top joint of his thumb recently. Won't post the pic of it!
 

pgrbff

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Log splitters involve much more handling and they are a lot slower than a properly maintained and well used splitting axe.
I think that probably depends on the timber and the size. It would take me forever to split a 75cm long log for my boiler, a splitter does it in a few seconds. That's a proper splitter on the back of a tractor.
 
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