Got some of this wood in Central NJ (USA) and it just splinters into
what looks like shreaded chicken as it splits (on a splitter). Its
impossible to split by axe. My neighbor said it was a gum something but
he couldn't remember. Its got pine-colored wood and a lightish gray /
brown bark, medium roughness.
I'm willing to bet that you've got a gum tree. I also had some memorable
experiences the first time that I tried to bust up some of it so it would
fit in the wood stove. A real strong splitter will break it up into
manageable chunks, but I wouldn't really call it "splitting". You can also
get a rip type blade for your chain saw and cut it into smaller sizes. It
burns OK, if you can ever get it small enough to fit the stove.
Not sure if cottonwood grows in NJ.
But is sure as hell all over the North west.
You might have a chance of splitting it if it has been down for short
time. Once it starts to dry, Dig a hole and bury it.
Elm splits cleanly, it's just very hard to do it (at least the UK
species). If it's leaving "strings" between the pieces when you try to
split it, it sounds like something else - and gums certainly do this.
Possibly sweetgum, liquidamber styraciflua, but more probably is
blackgum, Nyssa sylvatica, which is exceptionally difficult to split or
nail. Makes good gunstocks, doors, furniture, almost anything where it
can be cut. Good looking wood, sort oif a straw yellow/tan. Should be
The fact that it is all cross-grain and will not split almost assures that
it will have very interesting appearance. Split only to a size that you can
handle, then cut it a bandsaw or have it cut by a sawmill. Sticker and dry.
Make beautiful jewelry boxes, etc.
Sounds like sweetgum. The grain is interwoven. I have tried to split
some with wedges--the wedges just bury up in the log. Not much good for
firewood IMHO because it pops a lot and hot coals fly everywhere.
More than likely a "Sweet Gum" which is a pest tree any
where in the south. Can grow quite large...
I recall in my youth trying to split gum with a axe. This was
a waste of time for me and the axe. You will need explosive
devices for any real success.
Fine Woodworking printed a cool article on sweet gum wood
a few years back and they actually praised the wood.
The quarter sawn wood is quite pretty.
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