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Cutting slabs out of trees

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Apprentice_GM, Aug 19, 2008.

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  1. Apprentice_GM

    Apprentice_GM Member

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    I have a mate with a few big trees to remove, mostly bluegums, mine for the felling and burning. However one of them is a big one, almost 5 foot diamter base, and it seems a shame to burn it. The first few metres should yield some nice big slabs for furniture, but I've never done slabs before. Is it too hard for an amateur?

    I have another mate whose dad has a chainsaw with 60" bar, and the bar has a handle thru it for 2 man operation. I was wondering if I could rig up some kind of frame and cut some slabs out of the big tree, what was involved, what the technique was. If I butcher it, no cost, just the despair of a magnificent Sydney Bluegum wasted, well to be burnt anyway.

    Any pointers or suggestions or links? Or is this the kind of thing I should take to a sawmill using a big truck? Or sell to a mill? (Would they even want such a small quantity anyway).

    For the non-aussies, Sydney Bluegum is a beautiful timber species with deep reds and wonderful grain. It's a pretty hard timber, not as hard as ironbark, but then nothing is. In Oz we frequently name red things "blue" or "bluey" (eg a red cattle dog's common name is Bluey) and blue things red . . .

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  2. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    If you mean "slab" as in a cross-section slab- then you generally need to let it dry in the round first- seal the ends with wax and let it sit for a couple years. If you cut a slab out of wood with moisture in it, then it will crack as it shrinks and you'll have a slab that looks like pac- man.

    If you mean lumber- then I would take it to a sawmill, or call someone with a portable bandsaw mill (though it may be too big for that!). To do it yourself, you would need one of the various chainsaw mill (Alaskan, etc.) aparati and possible a chain that would better clear the curly-q chips that it would make. Too much effort for one log- take it to a mill.
  3. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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  4. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    jezzzzzzzz ....I dunno... 5ft diameter trunk...just trimming up the limbs on that monster could cause it to roll and cripple ya for life. I'd sleep on it and give it some more thought.
  5. Apprentice_GM

    Apprentice_GM Member

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    OK, I let it dry in the round first for 2 years, thanks for the advice. Why seal the ends with wax though? If the round is a few feet long - I'm thinking 10 to 20 feet for nice long slabs - and 5 foot diameter then won't sealing it with wax prevent it drying? Or does it dry through the bark but really slowly hence reducing cracking?

    It now seems I have a couple of years to research and get the equipment or find a saw mill (lumber mill), but out of curiousity, do you cut the slabs at an angle through the log (creating long ovals) or parallel to the grain ie rip it horizontally and end up with different width of slabs?
  6. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    You missed the point about which direction you mean. If cutting lumber out (boards) then you can have it done now and "sticker" them for drying. If cutting a round cross section- then drying is a PITA- in that case you wouldn't want checks to develop, so waxing the ends would slow down the moisture loss so that the MC would be even throughout the piece.

    If you just want good boards- take it to a mill now.
  7. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    My neighbor has a woodmizer that we've worked with a few times now. The last time we ran it a couple weeks ago, we milled two huge trees. One was a sugar maple 8 feet in diameter. He had to quarter it with a Stihl 880 w/48" bar - had to hit it from both sides to get through. Then, the quarters went on the mill. They were almost too big. The other tree was a 5' diameter red oak. That one was cut in half and then set on the mill flat side against the dogs. It, too, was almost too big. Seemed like a lot of work for relatively little lumber. I know I would have felt bad if we didn't try, though.

    I know one of the local mills around here dumped a several 5' diameter oaks into the ravine behind their mill because it was too big and they didn't want to mess with it.
  8. mranum

    mranum New Member

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    If you leave the logs whole for a couple years make darn sure you debark it or you will have worm holes all through it. Been there did that. The woodmizer bandsaws that most of the guys around here have will take about a 40" max diameter and I think it would be hard pressed to find a circular mill that could take them that big unless you found someone running a real old unit made back when they sawed alot that size. Handling the weight is the big issue though.
  9. Apprentice_GM

    Apprentice_GM Member

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    Thanks all - I have pretty much decided to just use it for firewood now. I can't leave it on my mates property for 2 years, and it's too big to get to my place and store it somewhere (well to big to do with my budget, I'm sure I could hire some big toys) so it'll just have to get burnt. I appreciate the how-to info though, I know it will come in handy sometime.
  10. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Again- no reason to dry it now if you just want boards out of it.
  11. Apprentice_GM

    Apprentice_GM Member

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    Nah, was more interested in large slabs. I have a bluegum slab I'm doing as a desk, it's 10' x 3' x 2", weighs heaps but will go wall to wall in my study (almost). I wanted to do a dining table and some shelves and other bits but wanted large slabs. They are really expensive . . .
  12. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

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    I have several large oak slabs in my shop that I cut two years ago. Cut them at least 6 inches longer than you plan to use and seal the ends. then let them dry. If blue gum is like sweet gum you have no way of knowing what it will do when you finally cut it. Good luck with it.
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