Just cut 30-foot tall 1.5 foot diameter oak (how long to dry out?)

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Most species will dry in one season. Oak seems to want 2 seasons. But you want it for campfire use so it doesn't have to be 'dry'. A couple months should do it. Expect rather smoky fires though.
Harry K
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You live in SoCal.
Did you consider that maybe that tree had value as timber / lumber rather than fire wood?
Additionally, burning wood logs in a conventional fireplace in the South Coast Air Basin is just creating more air pollution.
The process you described is more or less the classical hand split method. Forget those silly cone wedges, they don't work.
If you have a gut & you're really able to swing a 20lb sledge.......don't worry, that gut will be gone soon. It's been more than a few years since I've hand split any appreciable quantity of wood and I only used a 12lb. A maul is a better tool but you still need at least 3, preferably 4, wedges.
Your log lengths are too long, 16" or shorter would have been about ideal, even 12" would have been better than 20". At this point, if you're serious about the hand splitting, cut them down to 10" and get busy splitting.
Shorter pieces will split easier. Shorter pieces will dry quicker. Shorter pieces will burn more efficiently....... the smaller the piece of wood you add to a fire, the closer you come to wood pellet behavior. Dumping a huge log (20" long, 1/4 split?) on a fire will nearly kill it.
If you can't split all of the wood completely in a reasonable amount of time, at least split ALL of the logs in half.
If you wait until the wood dries you will be amazingly unhappy. As others have said, green wood splits WAY easier than dry wood.
Of course you can always do your own experiment and report back.
essay on hand splitting
http://writing.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474976719724
Split the logs in 6ths. Split in half & then each 1/2 into three pieces.
If stack the wood with stickers & space it "might" be burnable in 6 months. If you stack it & air flow is inhibited....... you'll be burning it Jan 2013.
Air drying wood is a function of air temperature, relative humidity & air flow and the size / shape of the piece of wood. Unsplit, the wood will take at least twice as long to dry....... its a volume to surface thing, as well as length & width. :(
You can speed up the process with a properly designed stacking arrangement supplemented with 20" box fans. Estimated your Dec 2011 thru March 2012 usage and only force dry that amount.
I used to dry full units of 2x4's by re-stacking the unit stickered & placing two 20" box fans at the end of the unit. Running the fans 24/7 I could get a unit of 2x4's down into the 12% moisture content range (from 30%+) in a couple weeks.
The two fans cost about $1/day to run. As they say....you can have it fast, cheap or right..... pick two. :(
cheers Bob
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Sawyers won't cut yard trees though. Too risky on the saw blades. Yard trees often have nails, hooks for clothes lines, etc.
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On 7/9/2011 8:06 AM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Maybe depends on how valuable it is. Some friends has trees that they sold and the folks who purchased them scanned them with higher end metal detectors before proceeding.
My brother does wood turning as a hobby and he gets pieces from a local mill. They scan for metal before they process incoming wood.
And along the same lines a relative had a walnut tree stolen when they were away.
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On Fri, 08 Jul 2011 20:44:07 -0700, DD_BobK wrote:

Not until now. I have other trees that need felling. How does one find someone willing to buy a standing tree?

Thanks. The "advertisement" makes it look all so easy. But, that point is very blunt. It barely dents the center of the 20-inch long oak log!

That's half the current size! I didn't know 10 inches was the right size for splitting. I'm sure the length makes a huge difference!

I'm not sure what 'pellet behavior' is, but, for a campfire, you kind of just want it to burn for a while as you sit around it drinking a beer.

Hmmmmm... Not the campfires we make! :)

Makes sense. But that first split is also the hardest one!

I'm surprised. Mainly because dried oak is cracked while wet oak is seamless. But, it must be (for some reason) that wet wood is easier to split than dried wood as someone would have said otherwise by now.

I wonder how we measure moisture content in percent at home?
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OP-
I was under the impression that the firewood was for home fireplace usage.
Not to rain on your campfire fun but over sized / giant fires are rather wasteful of resources. The fire puts out so much heat you have to stand 20' away? Never heard about the native American comment on "white man's fire" vs small fire >>> stay warm all night? Maybe you're not a SoCal green type?
There is no "right size" for splitting or fire place usage. Depends on the size of the fireplace but I prefer smaller pieces. Pieces that are too large consume a fair amount of the fires heat to get them going.
"Pellet behavior" refers to EPA rated wood stoves that burn wood pellets with very little air pollution.
I don't know if you're a skier but Mammoth Lakes outlawed new log burning fireplaces in 1995 and even with the moratorium on new installations, a pall of smoke often hangs over the town in winter when all the pre-1995 fireplaces are burning logs.
Smaller pieces of wood burn clearer, larger ones tend to smoke more. Inadequately dried wood doesn't burn as well & can leave deposits in chimney. Though oak is less susceptible to it.
Not a problem in isolated areas but in SoCal (+20 million people) or in a small town with 1000's of logs being inefficiently burned

Like the killer air pollution in England (60's) due to coal burning...... its all about density & dispersion.

Ahhh....now it is clear where that gut is coming from....
My suggestion....cut the log shorter, split by hand.
Smaller pieces will require you to get up a bit more often.... it will help a bit with gut, you get more heat out of the wood & you'll reduce air pollution.
cheers Bob

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You don't. Unless you have a tract of land managed for lumber, no sawmill will take lumber from a residential area.
Too great a chance of finding metal inside the tree.
--
Dan Espen

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Split dry or wet? It depends on species. I have never worked oak but for B. Locust cut it green but split it dry. It splits with wedge/ sledge (10 lb) green fairly well but willa lmost fall apart with a maul when dry.
Way back I read that wood, split and given enouth time will dry down to the average humidity in the environment. I don't know if htat is accurate but if you can dry firewood to 20% it is fine.
Me? I burn 6+ cords/yr and have since 1976. Knock two chunks of wood together and if it goes "clunk" it ain't dry. It shoiuld 'ring'.
Harry K
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I agree with the "depens on the species", but your example is a horse of a different color. Locust was always split when wet. It's hard work, but it splits fairly readily along the grain. The older trees frequently drop limbs and split along the trunk.
This from Wikipedia:
Uses The wood is extremely hard, resistant to rot and durable, making it prized for furniture, flooring, panelling, fence posts and small watercraft. As a young man, Abraham Lincoln spent much of his time splitting rails and fence posts from black locust logs. Flavonoids in the heartwood allow the wood to last over 100 years in soil.[6] In the Netherlands and some other parts of Europe, black locust is one of the most rot-resistant local trees, and projects have started to limit the use of tropical wood by promoting this tree and creating plantations. It is one of the heaviest and hardest woods in North America.
Black Locust is highly valued as firewood for wood-burning stoves; it burns slowly, with little visible flame or smoke, and has a higher heat content than any other species that grows widely in the Eastern United States, comparable to the heat content of anthracite.[7] It is most easily ignited by insertion into a hot stove with an established coal bed.[citation needed] For best results it should be seasoned like any other hardwood, however black locust is also popular because of its ability to burn even when wet.[8] In fireplaces it can be less satisfactory because knots and beetle damage make the wood prone to "spitting" coals for distances of up to several feet.[citation needed] If the Black Locust is cut, split, and cured while relatively young (within ten years), thus minimizing beetle damage, "spitting" problems are minimal.
It is also planted for firewood because it grows rapidly, is highly resilient in a variety of soils, and it grows back even faster from its stump after harvest by using the existing root system.[9] (see coppicing)
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Firewood charts list the splitabilithy as "easy". I would rate it 'moderate'. Splitting green 4-5 smacks with wedge/sledge will halve a 2' round then a splitting maul will reduce it to splits.
I am harvesting and stockpiling B. Locust, every stick I can lay my hands on. The Locust Borer is killing it off around here. My stock currentlyi is around 40 cords and that doesn't count the 6 I burned last season. Most of it split by hand. Makes for good physical excersize. My hydraulic splitter only comes out for the knotty/ crotchy stuff. I alos split fence posts out of it years ago - not a hard job at all, time consuming though. 3 wedges, sledge, start on one end and chase the crack down the length of the log.
Hazard of quoting wikipedia. That article is fairly accurate but does have some things I don't agtree with and one major error. See below:

Dunno about it as finished lumber. It checks extremely badly as it dries and is very splintery. I have never seen any of it after planing. Won't say it isn't done, but I hae never seen it.
As a young man, Abraham Lincoln spent much of his time

Wrong! It is highly valued as firewood because it is very dense. Truth is that _ALL_ wood species have approximately the same heat value pound for pound. A pound of balsa wood will produce approximately the same BTUs as a lb of locust.
<snip remainder of interesting article>
Harry K
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Hmmm. Honestly, I didn't read the whole wiki article and just did a quick skim and cut and pasted that bit, but you're right about a couple of things being a bit off. Your point about the BTU/weight being very similar, and I have serious doubts about the heat value for locust being the same as anthracite coal. I'd think the coal would be about double the heat value per pound.
I'm still going to quote wiki because it's easy and I'm lazy. :)~
R
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Same here. It is a lazy way to research things :)
I also doubted the 'coal' comparison. Basicly both coal and wood provide carbon for burning. I am sure that coal packs it far more densely. Too lazy to research it tho. Maybe later.
Harry K
Harry K
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let wood sit to dry, a year is best splitting will be MUCH EASIER, many logs will crack and be kinda pre split....
its not a high tech operation:)
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On Mon, 11 Jul 2011 06:38:50 -0700, bob haller wrote:

That's what I thought.
But, the majority opinion here is that dry wood is harder to split than wet wood.
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I'll make it easy for the number-crunching part of your brain.
Split half of it now and half when it has dried. Then you'll know which you prefer, you'll have accrued half of the benefit whichever way proves easier, and we'll be saved from the insufferable poll taking.
R
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On Mon, 11 Jul 2011 12:18:37 -0700, RicodJour wrote:

Despite your unerring wit, I think that's a GREAT idea!
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I thought that might appeal to your half split wit.
R
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Not here. Although, with a 26 ton splitter, I really don't notice any difference. None of it is hard to split. The dry does pop and fly more than the wet, though.
Steve
Heart surgery pending? www.heartsurgerysurvivalguide.com Heart Surgery Survival Guide
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Not in my experience. Dry, especially straight grained like oak, just pops apart. Wet wood tends to be stringier and stops the maul. IMO, frozen is best, dry close, wet can be nasty, unless you have a powered splitter.
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Wait. You're surprised you didn't know something? It's quite clear that you don't know wood from Shinola, so it shouldn't surprise you. Having an inflated opinion of your unsubstantiated opinion is hubris.

Cut a piece of wood, weigh it, heat it up in the oven at a low temperature for a while, weigh it again. Do some math.
R
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