I have two manly neighbors, they cut trees all the time. The one owns one of those great big he-man chainsaws that have as many CCs as my first motorcycle. Me, I work on computers all day so when I stand around and talk to these gents the only thing we have in common is beer drinking. But they are great. They bring me wood like crazy for my wood burner and just dump it anywhere in the yard and then I cut it up and stack it.
I have a great deal of work to get to right now, about 3 chords to cut up and stack, but it is good. You become one with your wood pile each year and you get to know which types of wood are the best for splitting and burning. So, here is my overview for any of you wishing to get a wood burner and then when you are driving by someone’s house and see a tree getting chopped, you will be able to stop, ask what kind it is, and if it falls into the category below of your splitting desires, your yea or nay will come easy.
But first, there are many indigenous PA trees (and don’t forget to check this out http://www.pabigtrees.com what a site, I measured a you bet your White Ash in the woods behind my house to see if it could compete and it was about 10 feet shy on circumference. There are some whoppers on that site.) which are plentiful and then there are the imports. Always burn the imports because they can be invasive. Now if the tree is a weeping type, please pass by and flip your nose at it. These are hybrids created by some wino scientists and they permeate the front yards of people who don’t understand a big Pa hardwoods.
I digress, here is the list along with taught explanations:
- Silver Maple – lovely shade tree, drops more things (sticks, buds, helicopters, leaves) than any other tree save your White Ash. This is a plentiful tree due to there was a large planting of it in and around the ‘Burgh about 50 to 70 years ago when houses were being built because they grow fast. Now they are normally the huge trees you see in front yards with big elongated holes from ants. Not easy to split because they splinter. So then get out your sledge and 5 wedges and when they are all stuck in a 30 inch trunk, go rent a log splitter.
- White Ash – These are perhaps now the second largest trees you will see in Pa due to the Chestnut blight of the 20th century. (Give me a minute)…these trees are used for baseball bats of course and are easy to split. If you see see one of these beauties about to come down please climb it and tell the chopper you won’t come down until he sells his chain saw.
- White Oak – not as fun to say as you bet your White Ash but these trees are wonderful. They have the tastiest acorns of the oak family which is why it is sometimes difficult to find the acorns and the saplings under or around one. These must be dried for 6 to 10 months then split otherwise you are going to sour your milk trying.
- Beech – One of my favorites and one of the tallest trees you will find. These are the trees that everyone carves their names into. This irks me to no end so if I see someone doing it I normally attack. Al Gore would back me up on this. I have never cut one or split one, but I have collected the Beech nuts below one. Be sure not to confuse the leaves with that of the American Chestnut (another minute please…). I have read they are easy to split and some people have used the pulp to make beer. What a great tree.
- Weeping Willow – This is a Chinese import whose roots supposedly go after sewer pipes which causes havoc for the alligators living in the sewers which in turn causes your pipes to have to be dug up and then the ditch diggers get eaten by the ‘gators. This lead to the invention of the backhoe.
- Sugar Maple – This tree is strictly for maple sugaring. Don’t cut it down dammit, tap it and make maple syrup. If you only have one you can still make about a pint which could be fun for the kids.
- Norway Maple – This tree is an import from Norway, however it is good for sugaring. They grow fast, are invasive, and are used for front yards a great deal of the time. Do what you will with them, they are easy to split and we are not at war with Norway oddly enough.
- Black Locust – This is the tree used to make fence posts way back when. The wood doesn’t rot for about 20 to 30 years. It is a large tree and the wood has a yellow color to it and the branches have thorns so when you cut it use the thorns to make sewing needles to sew leather gloves to handle the branches. This wood burns super hot and splinters when split, but is not real difficult.
- Black Cherry – These trees are plentiful and the wood is the second most sought after save mahogany. The wood has a deep, rich, red color and is very easy to split. So 0nce you cut it down, make a coffee table or a nice set of salad bowls and then burn the rest.
- White Birch – These are the trees normally found in front yards that have the white bark. Very ornamental now with like a clump of three, but if left to grow they will get large and very pleasant looking. These are moderate to difficult to split and the bark creates a good bit of creosote upon burning so you will have to get your chimney swept after the winter.
- Pines – Don’t burn inside, use these for your sugaring evaporator outside.
Well it was not a great year for the maple trees where I live, only got about 5 days of flow where normally I get about 2 to 3 weeks so no-one is invited over for pancakes this year. I am sorry, but I am going to plant about 5 more sugar maples this year which will be ready for the 2030 sugaring season. I can’t wait…
There are more trees out there of course, but I don’t have time to cover them all today. I will try to continue this another day, but you should be ready now to pick out your wood for burning next year.