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When I was burning wood for heat, I let a huge hickory dry too long. When I went to bust it up, all the axe would do is bounce, had to just let it rot. Hickory and Pecan is harder than Superman's knee caps, but makes nice sticks.
 

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Kind of like elm which we burned occasionally when one caught Dutch elm disease. The hydraulic splitter would do it but trying a splitting maul was impossible. We called it "rubber mallet syndrome." That 8 lb head would bounce like rubber.
The grain in Elm just goes crazy, I tried to bust a piece of it also, like you said, rubber.
 

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Even Cottonwood did that to me once. I wonder if there is a stage that all wood does the rubber mallet thing?
I never had a problem busting ash, oak or any of the hard woods, as long as there were no knots. Wood that is normally used for heat or even hickory wasn't bad to split, as long as it was still green and fresh cut. I haven't tried cotton wood that I know of.

Ash as a heat wood was, years back, used for stove or cooking wood because it burned hot, fast and left little ashes. Sorry I got of topic there for a moment.
 
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