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How to break down seriously large oak wood?

Discussion in 'Arborist 101' started by PoulanInPA, Oct 2, 2017.

  1. PoulanInPA

    PoulanInPA ArboristSite Member

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    Hi All - New to the forum. I just had a very large white oak tree taken down. It was a hazard and the center was rotting, unfortunately. The tree service left me with the bigger pieces and now I have the task of breaking them down for firewood. How do you suggest I go about handling the monster rounds? Some are easily five foot in diameter, very wet and super heavy. They range in thickness from 18 inches to 3 feet (picture attached). I've broken down 1.5 of them using primarily wedges, sledgehammer, and the fiskars, but it was pretty brutal. Looking for suggestions on how to do this as efficiently as possible. Noodle them? The main thing I need to accomplish is breaking them down to manageable sizes that I can roll/push/pry bar onto the foot of the log splitter. Thanks!

    For reference, equipment I have on hand:

    -Log splitter (horizontal and vertical)
    -Fiskars super splitter axe
    -Maul and five wedges
    -8 pound sledge
    -5 foot pry bar
    -18-inch Echo saw
    -24-inch Poulan 4400 anti-vibe saw
     

    Attached Files:

  2. benjo75

    benjo75 ArboristSite Operative

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    Sounds like you need wood more than most. That's the hardest way possible to go about getting firewood. To answer your question, I would personally cut them in half with a saw and long bar. Then they should be able to be man handled to the spliter. It's going to take a lot of swinging. The more wedges the better. Find the natural split of the piece. Saw a few inches down into the wood and all the way across going with the natural split. The deeper you saw the better. It wouldn't hurt to turn it over and do the same on the bottom staying in the same plane as the first cut. Start driving wedges in it. Steel wedges will work best. If you make it through all the beating and swinging you will have the most time consuming firewood possible. On the other hand it this particular firewood will warm you several times.
     
  3. benjo75

    benjo75 ArboristSite Operative

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    You can also start slabbing pieces off the side.
     
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  4. ATH

    ATH Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Option 1) "Free firewood" ad on Craigslist. Let somebody else deal with them.

    Option 2)
     
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  5. chipper1

    chipper1 Tree Freak

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    I would noodle them myself. You could noodle them in half and then noodle those pieces into 3rds, then you would be lifting a reasonable amount.
    Then I would split them with the hydro, horizontally(personal preference :)).
    Also watch closely for the metal in there, the stains on some are a telltale sign.
    There is a lot of great wood in that pile.
    Think of all the things that tree has seen as your working with it, it was around at the turn of the century, cool stuff.
    Let us know how it goes.
    Brett
     
  6. chipper1

    chipper1 Tree Freak

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    Good stuff right there, gotta give that a try, I like fire :blob2:, and explosions :sweet:.
    Looks like if someone wants to watch they will have to click on the youtube tape on the bottom right.
     
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  7. ATH

    ATH Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I tried 3 different videos to get a good link. Looks like you quote me in the middle of those edits. But the point remains the same...blow it up!:rock2:
     
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  8. chipper1

    chipper1 Tree Freak

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    That's funny, been there before lol.
    Ok, everyone skip to 2:00 for the action, I don't want to watch him do a bore cut and dum a little powder in then pack it, just want to see it blow up :rock2:.
    I think I may try something like this with something different in the log sometime :yes:.
     
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  9. ATH

    ATH Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I even right clicked on "copy video URL at the current time". Oh well. Yes...thanks for the note, skip to 2:00 for the one in my post. 1:18 for the one chipper quoted.
     
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  10. Greenmachine

    Greenmachine ArboristSite Lurker

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    I laughed my ass off! Thanks! Then the cat rolling by after... Too funny.
     
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  11. PoulanInPA

    PoulanInPA ArboristSite Member

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    Thanks everyone, I appreciate the input; realistic or not! This is definitely the hard way to get firewood, I agree. But its from my front yard, just like my black cherry dining room table. So when I burn the oak I can relish in the fact it took three times as much work as it should to get the same amount of heat :) Its good stress relief to break it down, I just don't want to get burned out by doing it the wrong way.
     
  12. jrider

    jrider Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Those look like pretty nice rounds without big knots or odd shapes. Take a board and with the help of another guy, roll them up onto your splitter beam. "Catch" whatever split is bigger - usually easily done as long as you keep part of it on the beam and slide it back and resplit. Then tag team lift the piece that fell on the ground and do the same thing until you have it all in manageable pieces.
     
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  13. PoulanInPA

    PoulanInPA ArboristSite Member

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    ^Thanks, but these things are about 1500 pounds each. Nobody is rolling them onto anything in one piece.
     
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  14. PoulanInPA

    PoulanInPA ArboristSite Member

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    How about renting a small-ish jackhammer or large hammer drill with a spade bit??
     
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  15. Bobby Kirbos

    Bobby Kirbos ArboristSite Guru

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    Let your saw do the work. Noodle it down until you have pieces that are small enough for you to put on the log splitter.
     
  16. jrider

    jrider Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Heavy yes, 1500 pounds no. A cord of wet white oak weighs around 5500 pounds. By your measure, less than 4 of these equals a cord.
     
  17. arathol

    arathol ArboristSite Operative

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    Weight of dry seasoned oak is about 6000 lbs per cord, or 47 lbs/ft³.
    A cord is 128 ft³, green wet fresh cut white oak is about 62 lbs/ft³. That is 7936 lbs.
    Actual measured weight will be somewhat less (20% give or take) when allowing for void content.
    :chop:

    A 5' round 1 foot in length weighs in at about 1200 lbs.
    πr²h = volume
    3.1415 x 30² x 12 / 1728 = 19.6 ft³ x 62 = 1215 lbs
     
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  18. Ted Jenkins

    Ted Jenkins Firewood by TJ

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    A cord of wet Oak weighs much closer to 10,000 lbs per cord. A very dry seasoned load of Oak often times is 6,000 lbs. Live Oak is heavier that White Oak, but not nearly as light as dry Pine. I just finished breaking down a Oak that was averaging 60'' at the trunk/ A dozen wedges a couple of sledge handles. A great way to get into shape. Two or three hours a day swinging a hammer will get you going after a month you should be able to swing for up to six hours without being sore. Thanks
     
  19. Catfish Hunter

    Catfish Hunter ArboristSite Lurker

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    Noodle it


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  20. PoulanInPA

    PoulanInPA ArboristSite Member

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    I'm an engineer and am all for calculations and such, but I can tell you without any of that that these things are sopping wet and heavy as hell. Made good progress yesterday in a couple of hours with sharpened wedges and the sledge, breaking them down into sixth-sizes pieces. I was able to get them on the vertical splitter and do the rest from there. Getting at least 60 pieces of wood from each round! Noodling might be less work, but I like the exercise and will avoid doing that unless its necessary.
     

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