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Why does an axe spark when splitting wood?

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  • Why does an axe spark when splitting wood?

    I've been helping my neighbor split some firewood, and he has remarked several times about seeing sparks fly when the axe hits the end of an oak log. There's no metal (or anything else) in the wood as far as I can see. The wood is freshly cut and clean on the ends.

    What's causing the sparks?

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  • #2
    Abrasive material in the wood, most likely sand, dirt, stones etc... that have become embedded in the tree when it is growing. I have seen all sorts of things grown into a tree, often makes me wonder just how it got there.



    • #3
      Eastern hard maple sometimes has "mineral "streaks. I don't know exactly what causes them, but they spark when cut.


      • #4
        I dunno what causes it either, but a chain saw will really make em fly!! And - in my somewhat limited experience - the harder the wood the more sparks. Cutting "Bo-dark" (Bois d'arc/Osage orange) at dusk will look like youre cutting metal,-- the drier the wood the more fireworks.

        Not a lot of Bodark around here but red oak & hickory are plentiful and both will do nice sparklies, but a pine will rarely do it.

        I bet when some of the guys that cut a lot come in, there'll be lots of stories....
        If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something........


        • #5
          Ditto what Bill said about the Bodark. As far as sparks when being struck with an axe, that all sounds so much like work that I've never even allowed myself anywhere close to it.

          Over at the WoodWeb site, there is this discussion of things sawyers have found in logs.


          • #6
            i always thought it was because of the sand and other stuff embeded into the wood when it grows.. but im not really sure... heres a picture i took a few years ago, but there isnt any sparking in it..