Best approach for splitting standing dead hardwoods?

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SCMtnHaul

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I have access to 100 acres that was recently burned in a wildfire, not a crown fire but now there is a lot of standing dead or near dead tan oak, live oak, red oak, and madrone. Most of my past splitting was either freshly cut or less than 4 weeks cut and I only used an 8lb maul, but I was only splitting 3 or 4 full cords a year for personal use.

I'm just wondering what the best approach would be to efficiently process a lot of standing dead hardwood? Does it get easier or harder to split at a certain point? I know some tan oak I've cut down was already looking a bit rotten and split very easily with the maul, but there are some large diameter madrones and oaks that I'm unsure about. Locally the best splitter option for sale is probably the 24 ton Iron & Oak or chance it on a county line--personally I just hate Tractor Supply since at least my local store has some shady business practices and I avoid them like the plague. SuperSplit looks great but I worry about having to noodle the big rounds and that adds a lot of time. I factor in the felling, bucking, and some cleanup into my overall "cord time". I do have access to a tractor but since it's not mine I don't want my approach to hinge on it. I would like to split around 20 or 30 128cu/ft cords at least initially since I don't have huge storage space. Of course if I'm successful then I may look at a smaller commercial processor unit, but that's a future budgetary issue.

So in a nutshell, I'm looking for tips on maximizing time and labor efficiency in splitting standing dead madrone, tan oak, live oak, and a little red oak. And I will be working alone %100 the time. Thanks in advance.
 
cut/split and probably stack 20-30 cord/yr with a convertible splitter (can be used upright or horizontal. Is doable but you won't be doing much else. I used to do 12-13 cord/yr with a Black Diamond 27ton. (around $1,000 at that time). Age has slowed me down but it looks like I'll finish the season with around 9-10 cord this year. That depends on splitting that much during the winter.
 
The iron and oak will be a good splitter. The local ACE hardware rents I/O splitters so they have to be tough to standup to that abuse. You need some type of table to stage rounds to go on the splitter and a rack system/pallets for the splits coming off the splitter to keep handling of the wood to a minimum.
 
I find that tan oak rots fast after it dies. Most of the ones I have dealt with were SODs killed. Madrone rots if its lying on the ground.

Personally I hate using my splitter in vertical mode so for round too large to pick up I will noodle them 80% of the way and use a splitting maul to finish. Your mileage will vary.

Dunno which TSC you're talking about but I think the one in Morgan Hill sucks less generally. (TSC could be such a great store if they just put a little effort into it).

I think your system will depend on what you can keep on site and how you will be storing wood. I try to not handle pieces more times than I have to, so for example I stack as I split. That makes splitting slower but there's no extra step afterwards. I'm working on my land and I use the tractor to bring logs to where I split and store wood. You may want to toss splits into the truck as you work and then tow the splitter home with a bed full of splits at the end of the day, to stack at home.
 
cut/split and probably stack 20-30 cord/yr with a convertible splitter (can be used upright or horizontal. Is doable but you won't be doing much else. I used to do 12-13 cord/yr with a Black Diamond 27ton. (around $1,000 at that time). Age has slowed me down but it looks like I'll finish the season with around 9-10 cord this year. That depends on splitting that much during the winter.
I find that tan oak rots fast after it dies. Most of the ones I have dealt with were SODs killed. Madrone rots if its lying on the ground.

Personally I hate using my splitter in vertical mode so for round too large to pick up I will noodle them 80% of the way and use a splitting maul to finish. Your mileage will vary.

Dunno which TSC you're talking about but I think the one in Morgan Hill sucks less generally. (TSC could be such a great store if they just put a little effort into it).

I think your system will depend on what you can keep on site and how you will be storing wood. I try to not handle pieces more times than I have to, so for example I stack as I split. That makes splitting slower but there's no extra step afterwards. I'm working on my land and I use the tractor to bring logs to where I split and store wood. You may want to toss splits into the truck as you work and then tow the splitter home with a bed full of splits at the end of the day, to stack at home.
I agree that handling tbe splits as little as possible is essential. I'm leaning towards either tossing the splits directly into the truck or putting sides on pallets so I can load them with the tractor and forks. I've never been to the Morgan hill tsc but the watsonville one sucks. Ive returned defective garbage and then seen it right back on the shelf, and I knew it was the unit I returned because the box was still sealed with the gorilla tape I used.
 
Also a factor will be how steep the 100 ac is. Mine's steep like a lot of land here. I use a forestry winch on the tractor to move logs to where I can pick them up with the tractor. I used to cut stuff back into the woods into rounds and carry them out but that got difficult as I got older.

I have some of my wood stacked in IBC tote cages with doors cut in them. A stacked full 275 gallon IBC tote is about 1/3 of a cord. If that's wet oak it's 2000lbs + cage and forks which is approaching the limits of my tractor.
 
Also a factor will be how steep the 100 ac is. Mine's steep like a lot of land here. I use a forestry winch on the tractor to move logs to where I can pick them up with the tractor. I used to cut stuff back into the woods into rounds and carry them out but that got difficult as I got older.

I have some of my wood stacked in IBC tote cages with doors cut in them. A stacked full 275 gallon IBC tote is about 1/3 of a cord. If that's wet oak it's 2000lbs + cage and forks which is approaching the limits of my tractor.
Good to know about the IBC capacity. And I agree that carrying rounds any real distance gets old real fast. The land is essentially flat where I'll be working and there are old logging roads that provide great access for truck or tractor. I use a choker chain and some rope if needed to drag the logs closer. I've been working on the property for the last 5 years and much of my time has been spent clearing debris and dead/dying trees as part of keeping the roads clear. It's really a great situation in every way--flat, good roads, two tractors to use, easy-going property owner, tons of trees that need to be removed, 5 minutes from home, and if I'm lucky I might even see a mountain lion. I just don't know anything about how to efficiently process firewood. I guess there'll be some trial and error but I'm just trying to minimize the pain.

I should have asked part of my question more clearly. With standing dead trees does the wood get easier to split as it dries on the vine? So far I'm starting to think so as I split more of it. I was thinking it might get more difficult to split as it dries out but that's only because all I ever split in the past was fresh cut and still practically dripping in some cases. Green tan oak and madrone split so easy I was assuming it would become more difficult as they dried, but I think I'm wrong about that.
 
Wow 100 flat-ish acres is rare here! And the land owner should be really friendly as you're reducing the fire hazard in their woods. If you can safely stash equipment and piles of split wood there that's a huge bonus.

After the CZU fire I saw contractors clearing dead hazard trees along roads which is good but land owners really need to do what you're doing. There are a lot of folks in the mountains who can't split wood or are too busy but have plenty of money to pay for it.

At least for me Madrone seems to be easy to split green or dry. Wood workers say it machines well and I can see why. The biggest problem I have with Madrone are the rotten parts. Logs that have sat on the ground have had 1/3 or more be rotten. If you're splitting in the woods then you can just dump the discards there. Dry-ish (nothing gets really dry in log form) bay seems to split about the same as fresh cut bay. Dry tan oak seems about the same as green.
 
There are a lot of folks in the mountains who can't split wood or are too busy but have plenty of money to pay for it.
^^^That's what I'm counting on.

Luckily I have seen a lot of people do extensive clearing, thinning, and removal but it gets expensive real fast so I can't blame folks who do the minimum or nothing at all. And it really sucks when you have a ton of dead trees that nobody wants. There are a ton of dead doug firs but we basically just wait for them to fall and then deal with 'em. We don't have a tractor that can just man-handle the logs and move some real weight so I often end up just cleaning up all the branches and cutting things small to hopefully speed up the rotting process. I know this is off-topic but right now the real problem on the property is the crazy ceanothus growth. Using the largest brushcutter from Husqvarna I've cleared acres of ceanothus but it just keeps coming back. Steady work but also a real concern since it just blankets large areas. The quail enjoyed it but it seems to be the kind of growth that can help a fire move quickly through a section of forest.
 
For us it's french broom and coyote brush that are the big invasive brush plants. Coyote brush is native unlike the brooms (French, Scotch and Spanish) but its also flammable. Broom is super aggressive in recently cleared areas. It spews seeds from pods that explode and the seeds stay around for years.

You can pull up small broom plants (works better in winter). There's a couple companies that make pullers that can pull up larger plants than you can pull by hand. Cutting the plants down often does not kill them. What I've found works best is to cut them in spring, let them regrow some foliage and then hit them with Triclopyr (Garlon 4) herbicide in late spring or early summer when they're growing fast. That's when Triclopyr works the best. Pulling works well too but it's more labor intensive and I'm not going to chip plants with dirty roots as that dulls the chipper knives. I'll pull small areas of sprouts but larger areas get Triclopyr. It's a broadleaf-specific herbicide so it does not kill everything like Roundup.

We have some ceanothus but it's not been a problem like broom and coyote brush. I like the few plants we have (they have pretty blue flowers) but a field of them would be a problem. It's hard wood and can be tough to get into the chipper.
 

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