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Big Tree - Making Stuff Instead of Burning?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Waulie, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    I have a large maple (around 3' DBH) that is on it's way out. It's has many dead limbs and has gone downhill fast since we moved here 2 years ago. It's a shame to see it go, but I think it's a goner. It grew in the open on the edge of the woods so it has tons of branches all the way up. I'll get a pic to post tomorrow.

    I'm thinking this is likely going to be absolutely beautiful wood and I hate to see it all burned. I have plenty of trees to cut for firewood. I don't have a lot of spare cash laying around to have it all milled. But I'm wondering if I can make some slabs on the cheap? What about saving some hunks for future projects?

    My saw wouldn't handle milling, but if I could get my hands on an "Alaskan" style mill and borrow or rent a big a$$ saw, would that work for making a few slabs? I do have a pole barn where I could sticker and store some stuff and there is a lumber yard with a kiln just a couple miles down the road.

    I just don't know much about woodworking. Does anyone have some thoughts or can anyone suggest a good book? Once again, hiring it out is not in the ole budget.

    Thanks!

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  2. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Waulie, i'd look around locally for someone with a roundblade or a bandmill. You'll get more bang for your buck, lots more boards vs. the Alaskan mill. Now, if you own a mill and a large saw, that is one thing. But if you don't, I'd be looking to have it milled.

    Just a couple words of caution....if it was near a yard or house, chances are almost 100% that it has nails or screws in it somewhere. I'd be borrowing a metal detector and looking at the trunk really good.....when you drop the tree look for blue streaks in the log on the cut ends....that would indicate metal. A lot of people with mills won't touch 'yard birds'.......
  3. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    I'm an experienced woodworker. If you are a beginner, this is a lot to bite off at once. "Tons of branches all the way up" is generally the last thing you want to see in a tree intended for lumber. Branches mean knots, which limit what you can do with the wood and make it difficult to machine.

    You should have a chat with the guys at the lumber yard, about what they could do in terms of drying the wood for you. You won't have nearly enough wood to fill the kiln, so if they can help you at all, your wood will be in with other. different wood, and they are unlikely to be willing to tailor the kiln schedule for yours, and you may lose some to drying defects. Still, they'll be able to do a better job than you can, faster and with less loss along the way. They may also be able to refer you to someone with a bandmill that can slice it all up for you.

    Don't expect this to be a $50 project. When it's all said and done It may be cheaper than just buying an equivalent amount of wood, but not by a huge margin.
  4. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    Waulie, around here, you can hire someone with a Woodmizer bandsaw mill to cut it up for between .20-.30 cents/bd. ft., but if they run into something in the tree you're paying for the new blade.
    Someone should definitely go over the wood with a detector first, and like Jon says, lots o' knots in a tree like that.
    When I helped mill a bunch of logs here, I bartered with the guy where he took the 2x, and I kept all the 1x boards. I did most of the offloading of slabs and smaller boards. The the log lift was the awesome. I ended up with about 1700 bd. ft. of material. Great experience.
    I hadn't worked that hard in a long time.
    Of course, whatever you do with it, pics please.;)
    ScotO likes this.
  5. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    Thanks guys. I'm not interested in sawing up the whole thing or making a bunch of boards. I was thinking more along the lines of a few (several) slabs. Maybe like 4" thick by 8' by whatever the tree width is. I'd really like to try building a natural, slab dining table and maybe a couple smaller things. I'd use the rest for firewood.

    Scotty: That's a good thought about metal in the tree. It isn't really a "yard bird", but it's a risk for sure.

    Jon: I hear you on the cost. My dad had a bunch (I think it was 11 or so) big ash trees milled up a few years ago. He was building an addition so a bunch of it went on the floors, ceiling, and trim. When all was said and done, he had almost as much into it as buying the finished product. Although, what he got was better quality then the "cheap" stuff you can buy and he still has a bunch he can sell to offset some cost. While a cool thing, I'm not up for this.

    I think if I could find someone with a portable mill that may be my best option, but even that wouldn't be cheap. Here's a couple pics of the ole girl:

    2013-03-10 09.46.12.jpg

    2013-03-10 09.45.15.jpg
    ScotO likes this.
  6. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    There's probably a couple nice slabs in that trunk. But it being silver maple, that stuff dents easily. Not so sure I'd use it for a table, but that is up to you.....

    First thing I'd be doing after dropping the tree is to see if it has any metal in it. Cut it down, get it into a log form, and watch the butt/top ends of the log for blue streaking......also, use a metal detector the whole way around, and up and down, that log......set the detector on the most sensitive setting you can.....
    Thistle likes this.
  7. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    It's too bad it's not Sugar, but if it was I wouldn't feel too bad seeing all of it up in my stacks. ;)

    Yeah, it's probably not worth it anyway. Whatever I do, that tree is going to be a LOT of work. Luckily, it's only 100 feet from one of my bonfire pits.

    I'll spare everyone the "how do I fell this tree" thread. It's only a pole barn after all. :eek:
    Thistle and ScotO like this.
  8. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    remember our motto here, Waulie ......pics or it didn't happen!;) Be careful cutting that whopper down!
    Thistle and Waulie like this.
  9. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    Alaskan mill with 75cc or larger powerhead is your best option.I've had mine since late '92 & wouldnt be without it.It may sit in the shed for several weeks or 3-4 months when I'm busy with regular job,but its there when needed.


    This is still considered the bible of Chainsaw Milling - first published in 1982 & out of print for 20 years now.I was lucky to find a 1st edition hardbound copy on clearance table at local Woodsmith Store in July '92 for less than $15. Still in high demand,used copies can be anywhere from $50 to over $200 (!) on Amazon booksellers & elsewhere when available....Anything over $100 is insane IMO,I'd watch & wait for a cheaper copy....

    http://www.amazon.com/Chainsaw-Lumb...2933698&sr=1-1&keywords=chainsaw lumbermaking

    Attached Files:

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  10. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    *ahem* ;) Silver or Red Maple are also good for workbenches,they may seem a tad soft for the top,but are just as hard or a little harder than Doug Fir & some Southern Yellow Pine - and they are used all the time in user-made & lower cost factory made benches.

    Attached Files:

    PapaDave likes this.
  11. nrford

    nrford Minister of Fire

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    Ahem.... Thats hard Maple folks.
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  12. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    It's funny you say that. I have mostly hard maple here (like 90% of my maples). I never paid too mention attention to the tree (other than wow what a beautiful maple) when we moved here. I really noticed it getting real sick late this summer but never focused my attention on it enough or remembered to scope out the leaves. I've only recently decided it's gotta come down as I can now see just how sick it is. Can't see any leaves under all that snow and that's the only way I can be sure. The bark looks different than my hard maples, but it is the biggest maple I have. I had kind of convinced myself it was a soft maple, but I wouldn't be shocked if it was in fact hard.

    How can you tell between hard and soft with no leaves?

    Also, we can place bets on hard or soft. The winner gets to bring some milling equipment over and can take some boards back with them. ;)

    Just noticed your location nrford. For all I know, you're right down the road!
  13. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    I stand corrected. Now that I am on my laptop (was on my Droid phone when I mis-called it earlier) I can clearly see the deep veined rough bark on the trunk.....

    Good eye, Ford!
  14. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    I have a couple large (but much smaller) soft maples that have kind of rough bark, and I figured the bigger they got the rougher with deeper troughs? No? Does only Sugar get that rough with size?
  15. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    yes. Deep, curling, peeling shag, too. Sometimes they don't get as rough as others. I have some sugars here that are unbelievably rough....hard to even get a tap in them for sugaring, the bark is so curly. Others aren't hard to get through the bark at all...
  16. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    Cool. It's got be sugar then. Some of the bark curls on that tree are almost as long as my hand.

    Hmmm. That's a lot o' btu's right there. Would also make a couple nice tables.
    ScotO likes this.
  17. Boog

    Boog Minister of Fire

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    Since you have plenty of other trees to cut for firewood, it sounds like bartering time to me. Try to find someone who can do the work, and pay them with firewood, or maybe some timber quality ones you have.

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