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Aspen cordwood - is this wood good for cordwood masonry walls?  RSS feed

 
Lisa Gergets
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Here are a few pictures of our aspen. Which of these would you say is usable for cordwood masonry walls? Note that many times, these discolorations "develop" and get darker for several minutes after we make the cut. Does the sugar in aspen oxidize, and that's what's causing this?

These are pictures of logs with no overtly rotten areas - just these discolorations and marks. Also, there is no discernible difference in texture in any of these logs as you'd see with rot where the cellulose is breaking down.
Your advice is greatly appreciated.





 
Dale Hodgins
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They are all suitable for firewood. Aspen burns quickly, so good for a rocket mass heater, probably not so good for a stove where you want the wood to last a while.

This wood  tends to be very wet when cut, so if you're doing it on your own land, it might be wise to cut it and split it right there in the bush, then retrieve it when it weighs half as much, by midsummer. When split immediately, the bark will often pop off. This bark tends to burn smokey, so best to leave it in the bush.
 
Lisa Gergets
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Dale Hodgins wrote:They are all suitable for firewood. Aspen burns quickly, so good for a rocket mass heater, probably not so good for a stove where you want the wood to last a while.

This wood  tends to be very wet when cut, so if you're doing it on your own land, it might be wise to cut it and split it right there in the bush, then retrieve it when it weighs half as much, by midsummer. When split immediately, the bark will often pop off. This bark tends to burn smokey, so best to leave it in the bush.


Ah, I should have been more specific. I'm wondering if it would be good for cordwood masonry.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I didn't realize we were in that section. Aspen is one of the most likely woods to rot. It is often started rotting before being cut. I would never use any of it for that purpose. Just about any evergreen would be more suitable.
 
Miles Flansburg
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This has always been a quandary for me. I always hear folks say it is soft and rots quickly.  I have 10 acres covered with aspen, I have beaver dams made of aspen and willow that are at least 30 years old, as that is when the neighbors trapped out the beaver in our valley. The aspen logs are still in place solid and sticking out of the dirt. The only time I see aspen rot is when the ants have burrowed into it or if the heart of an old standing dead tree has gone bad. The aspen in my three year old hugel is still hard and doesn't seem to have fallen apart yet. So in my experience aspen lasts longer than any of the conifers that I have seen. The only way to find out for sure I guess would be to try it on a small shed or dog house or something and see what happens. I have been meaning to build a small Hogan out of some of my aspen logs to put it to the test.
 
Lisa Gergets
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I guess I should have been even MORE specific. LOL My bad!

I'm not looking to find out whether aspen is suitable for cordwood - I know that it is and it is used almost exclusively for cordwood masonry structures in Canada, simply because of it's prevalence.

What I am looking for is advice from people who know the look of aspen and can tell me, in relation to these particular logs potential use in cordwood masonry, if any of these look to be unsound for that use.

Thank you, and I'm sorry for the confusion!
 
carrie watson
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If you're still wondering, in one of his books, rob roy says the dark colour on the aspen or poplar, doesn't affect the outcome. Once the wall is complete the black can be sanded down to the fresh wood and the black will not return.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Those all look sound to me. I like to use the "hammer" tests, hit the ends in suspected areas with a hammer, you will notice a sound change if there is a not sound spot, worst case, the hammer head will sink in.

Redhawk
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I always hear folks say it is soft and rots quickly.  I have 10 acres covered with aspen, I have beaver dams made of aspen and willow that are at least 30 years old, as that is when the neighbors trapped out the beaver in our valley. The aspen logs are still in place solid and sticking out of the dirt.
  Aspen and cottonwood were used for well casings and barn floors because they have the ability to not rot if they are consistently moist.  That is always the case, but only if they are not already fungally innoculated.  The primary factor in the decomposition of aspen is fungi.  The second factor is making it wet and then dry, and then wet again, alternating it into a fungal rot.  Aspen, although not the best building material, can be quite adequate if, as in any cordwood structure, you provide a good roof line and a good dry foundation area <-these factors, and using split wood that has been dried adequately off the ground and under cover (these two factors eliminate much fungi worry), are going to make or break your deal with aspen.
 
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