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Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by tyusclan, Aug 14, 2005.
It's fine once it's well-seasoned. It is tight-grained and a liitle hard to split.
We've used it, because we just use what we have . . . but it doesn't get real cold here, so we use alot of substandard wood. In fact I struggle more in the winter with the house being too hot than too cold! As far as I know the gums don't have alot of heat energy, like the oaks do. I save my oak for the cold spells.
And it doesn't split, as someone else mentioned, but if you let it get good and dry, like over a couple years of storage, it is alot easier.
Once dried, all wood has about the same BTU's per pound. It just take more volume to make a pound from some species than others.
One tree broke about 12' up and the other about 8' up. Limbed and then drug them out of the field to where I could more easily cut them up and toss directly into trailer for hauling. Cut long one in half so I have three lengths a good 16-18' and from about 8" - 14". Thinner stuff might just be tossed into firebox without splitting as it shouldn't be all that heavy when dried down.
And, yes, I know skidding them resulted in dirt in the bark.
Sweet gum is OK if dried, but you'll likely need a hydraulic splitter. It "shreds" more than splits. My brother actaully used some sweet gum for siding on his saw mill building, and its held up well for about 5 years. The logs he used had been cut for about a year, and once he sawed the siding, we nailed it right up. We thought it might warp off the framing, but it hasn't.
I have plenty of Sweet Gum here. I will burn the smaller limbs and they are fine. If you can split the main trunk then you are a much better person than I. It will not even split very well with a splitter. It will not burn well at all when green.
The wood is light colored clear through and heavy, which usually means it has a very high water content. Friend I will be taking it to does have a hydraulic splitter.
when i lived in the north east, i found it difficult to split the sweetgum that grew there. In NC, however, it isn't that bad. It's easiest to split when it is cold or frozen and yup, it has lots of water if it's cut during the growing season. It doesn't seem to be that wet when I split some my neighbor cut down during the winter. It does burn kind of hot and fast, so I prefer it for starting a fire of geting some heat fast.
I regularly split black and sweet gum wood with a maul. The trick is to NOT attempt to split across the center of the piece (which is "nigh onto impossible"), but to split "slabs" off the perimeter (which come off fairly easily) until what is left in the center is small enough to go in the fireplace or stove.
Gum loses a lot of weight as it dries and is not particularly desirable -- but if that is what is available, that is what we burn. What someone said about the btu content being related to dry weight is right on, and dry gum is pretty light.
It's hard to split, but if you use a maul or an axe slab it off. Don't try to split idown the middle, just split off slabs around the edges and work your way to the middle. This is especially important if the rounds are a couple of feet across.
When I was very much younger and needed some fire wood a kindly old lady offered me half of her huge pile of sawn rounds she had had cut from her own woods. The deal was that I had to split her wood to get my half. I paid very dearly for that lesson in receiving kindness from senile old ladies who are sharper than any fox.
Ha Ha Ha ... been there done that!
Slab it off and burn the chunk that's left in the middle.