Saturday, January 17, 2009

You Can't Split Frozen Wood

This fall I decided to turn some dead trees (mostly pine) into firewood for winter.

The tree was cut down and cut into portable sections.  The sections where then trucked up to a cutting and chopping station right next to the deck.  

Each trunk section was cut into logs that would fit into the wood stove.  If the log was more then about 4 inches thick it was chopped.  

The ready-to-burn wood was pilled onto the covered deck.  This way it would be easily accessable even if it was snowing.  

The whole operation went smoothly until it started getting really cold at night.  Suddenly, instead of hearing a loud CRACK!!! when I brough the maul down on the end of a log, I'd just get a dull thud.

That's how I discovered that you can't split frozen wood.  We recently had a warm spell, and I was curious if I could once again the logs I had prepared for that step.

What I discoved was that I could split smaller logs, and larger logs as long as I avoided the still frozen core.  Here's a couple of pictures of a log that I could split about 4 inches in.  The inner core was still frozen and would not split.

You can see how the maul blade would just dig into the frozen core without creating a split like it's supposed to.  You can also see the section that split off.  The split would follow a tree ring at the edge of the frozen core. That way, I ended up taking a slice out of the log.

Moral of the story:  Don't try to split frozen wood.  You may have to wait for a few days, or even a week, of above freezing temperatures for the wood to "melt."  Then you can split it.