Homepage » Forums » Plants, Climates and Soils » when to split wood now or later?

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    Hello! We’ve just had two trees felled (poplar and spruce) and we are hoping to at least burn what we can in our wood stove–the rest will be used in our planting beds (at least for the poplar)

    We’re worried because it’s likely to snow any time now so we feel we should stack our wood someplace before that happens. We have some 50cm long sections of spruce trunk that we’ll obviously have to split before we can burn–but we were wondering if we could get away with setting it asside for now and then splitting it later. . .or even over a long period of time.

    One of our neighbors has told us to wait to split the wood as it will be easier. . .another told us it will be harder the longer we wait!! We understand that split wood will season faster. But as long as it doesn’t rot, splitting it slowly over time would be more convenient for us, even if we have to wait longer to burn it. As we understand it, spruce isn’t great for using in a wood stove, so we’ll probably mix it in with other wood slowly and over time anyway.

    So, does anyone have ideas here? I’ve never tried to split, burn or do anything else with Spruce. . .or larger poplar sections for that matter.



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    Mary Myers

    We had to cut a couple of old growth elm trees with huge circumfrence. We were advised by an old logger to split them right away. We were skeptical, but no more. They split easily in their freshly cut state.



    Hi trisha, Charlene from Alaska’s Matanuska Valley here. I have poplar (cottonwood) and spruce that fall to the wind every year. We usually let them lay where they fall until we need them. Once they are dry it is always easier to cut and move them. They do not waterlog unless they end up in a depression that fills with melt water, but rain and snow doesn’t seem to affect them.



    Ah. . .so both my neighbor who advised me to split right away and the one who advised me to wait were right! I think if I have time, I’ll split them this winter before the snow falls (so I can stack them better). But I see that, according to Charlene’s experience, if I don’t have time, it’s a project that can wait.



    From my experience of pine, it’s much easier to split when green. However, pine is a comparatively slow-drying wood.
    Don’t bother trying to split with a standard axe – get a wedge-shaped splitter.



    our local project is looking at more permi solutions this year especially wood core to create beds under trees
    i think am beginning to get this wood core thing
    collect wood and get them chopped into manageable pieces so they are easier for less folk to position / roll around (it took one guy about 10 minutes to chop a fallen 30 yr leylandii with a chain saw – ok is not the purest way, but i ain’t complaining :), plus local parks department is taking an interest in wood core solutions so i see the main purpose of the exercise is to get some beds, on site and in and around the area, up and running asap for folk to look at 🙂
    plant in fruit trees and while they grow add layers of organic matter to keep the bugs and worms etc fed, help keep the moisture in and not disturb the roots
    grow smaller fruit and veg between – try to work out pattern so food is growing and which plants love the sun and which love the shade and use sun lovers to shade the ones who like a little shade and then those to protect the ones who love shade etc
    lift crown of initial trees (mother plants) to let more light in meanwhile young plants are sustained by moisture and nourishment from decomposing wood core
    when time is right and trees are well established, uplift more of the crown until eventually that tree will die and allow the mature fruit trees become the mother layer – am i close?
    it’s a bit harder to think along these lines in scotland where we are used to seeing out fruit out in full sun grabbing all it can get between showers and manure & straw mulches


    Rik Jensen

    Hi Rik from Idaho here. We have a lot of diff kinds of trees and from what we have learned from abt 10 yrs exp. is that it is best to cut your wood when it is dry for many reasons (dulling the saw and stacking wet wood is not fun.) Also if you are planing to burn right away you deff want dry as wet wood will create more creosote and you will have to clean out the chimney more often. dry wood also burns hotter so you don’t use as much.



    Ok–update. We’ve split everything that I didn’t use in the Hugelkulture bed. We had a neighbor retired from the forrest service help us–since he had the equipment. He said the conditions were as close to perfect as possible and that the wood split very easily–even noted it in his journal!

    So I guess splitting now was a good move.



    Spruce is good firewood, it just burns fairly fast. Dry wood splits easier than wet. If you’re going to let it sit for a while, really big pieces (around) can be cut into along their length with a chainsaw through the bark and a little into the wood (log builder’s trick). As it dries, the log will then start to split along this line, making it dry faster and ultimately easier to split after you cut it into stove lengths.



    BTW, does anyone use a tire to corral the wood when hand splitting? Saw a video demo of a new axe invented in Sweden (which lblew me away at how easy it made splitting ) and the guy put his bucked wood inside the tire to keep it from flying all over the place.



    Yes, Tires work great for holding wood for splitting. I did this a few weeks ago. Just fit all the wood you can inside the tire and split away!

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