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Harvesting Ash trees for lumber - need advice

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by WoodNotOil, Dec 29, 2008.

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  1. WoodNotOil

    WoodNotOil Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    Messages:
    910
    Loc:
    Northern, Vermont
    I am a woodworker and everytime I cut down an ash tree for firewood I wonder if I couldn't be keeping the straightest parts of the trunk for lumber. My questions are:

    1. What time of year should ash be harvested for lumber?
    2. How do you keep it from drying out too fast and cracking/splitting?
    3. What is the minimum diameter trunk I should be looking for?
    4. How long should I leave the logs?

    We have mostly white ash on our property. There are several local mills around me that can mill ash and I have a buddy that has a portable mill as well. Any advice on this would be helpful. Thanks for the help.

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  2. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2008
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    452
    Loc:
    Central New York State
    If you plan on selling the logs, ask your buyer those questions. The value of ash and sizes wanted has changed a lot over the years - and I'm sure much is based on the region. Ash is used for tooth picks, baseball bats and wide boards. There have been times when there was a good market for very small trees, and other times when you couldn't give them away.

    Hard Maple is also getting that way now. Big demand for small trees with clear white wood.
  3. WoodNotOil

    WoodNotOil Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
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    Loc:
    Northern, Vermont
    This would be entirely for my own use. I am looking to have it milled into 1" rough cut and will do all the planing in my own shop.
  4. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2008
    Messages:
    452
    Loc:
    Central New York State
    Much will still depend on the mill you are going to use. The local mill near me charges extra for logs over 10', but can saw up to 18' for an extra charge.

    I'm in New York near the Adirondacks - just as cold and damp and northern Vermont (I used to live there). I've never heard of any bad cutting months for ash - like we have for white pine. White pine has certain months when it tends to have blue spots. As I recall, it's the months with "R", but I could be wrong. No white pine left in my area anymore, so it's not an issue.

    In regard to cracking -depends on what time of year. Mills near me keep their log piles sprayed with water during the hot summer months - or "month" if we only get one. I'll add though, that ash is not a big logging wood here right now. 10-15 years ago, ash and red oak were in big demand. Not anymore - now it's white oak veneer logs, or any hard maple - any size, any condition -even old sugar trees that have been tapped for many years.

    If you ask the mill where you plan to have them sawed - I'm sure you'll get more specific info for your area.
  5. ChipTam

    ChipTam Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2005
    Messages:
    211
    Loc:
    SE Michigan and Trinity, Newfoundland
    I'm a cabinetmaker (retired) and 30 years ago, when I was starting out, my buddy and I would harvest storm damaged trees and mill them with his chain saw mill. It was a lot of work and really only made sense for expensive lumber like walnut. However, we did mill up a number of ash trees and later made furniture from the wood. You can do it any time of the year.

    The lumber should be stacked, stickered, covered (on the top, only) and then air-dried outside for one year for each inch of thickness (ie., a two inch board should be air-dried for two years). You can paint the ends of the boards to minimize checking but I never found it helped all that much. The lumber should then be brought into your heated shop for a month or so before using.

    We have lost almost all of our ash in the midwest to the emerald ash bore over the last 5 years. If ash trees around you are infected, do not transport boards or firewood out of your immediate area. They say, that's how this insect spread so rapidly.

    ChipTam
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