Cutting out beech

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mcdougy

Minister of Fire
Apr 15, 2014
806
ontario
The Bush on our property does not have much beech in it, but IIRC I have read that beech is not high on the wanted list in a bush lot?
I have a small pocket of maybe 15 beech varying in size.
I believe what I read was along the lines of the fact that beech "shoot" from root system and hard to eliminate once established.
The majority of our Bush is maple and hickory with a small amount of oak.
Formerly it was aprox. 20% Ash, but we all know what happened to them :(.
I have cut out 90% of the dead ash and wonder if I should focus on getting rid of the small amount of beech?
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,208
Long Island NY
Variety is good for a healthy forest. Even if only to decrease the density of a certain species, making them less vulnerable to disease spread.
 

mcdougy

Minister of Fire
Apr 15, 2014
806
ontario
1o/4
I will continue to monitor the growth/spread of the beech and focus on general maintaince of damaged unhealthy trees.....2 cherries come to mind....I had been simply bringing the ash all down for the last 4 years and wondered where to turn my focus .
 

Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,781
Southeast CT
It's sad that the ash had such damage from disease and bugs as well and I just wonder how the beech would be in a wood stove.? clancey
Beech is high BTU wood. I’ve found that it dries well in a year or so, making it pretty valuable.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
7,512
NE Ohio
Yup, almost Oak BTU's, but dries like soft Maple...
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,685
Northern NH
If the beech blight has not gotten to your spot, you are lucky. It is great firewood, if you do not have oak in your woods, its about the highest BTU content of northern hardwoods. Like oak it takes 2 years to dry. Many folks do not plan well and do not dry it enough and then complain about it not burning well. It does clone itself from its roots quite aggressively especially after a clear cut. It will outcompete other more desirable species. The only way to really kill it for good is to cut it and apply a low concentration herbicide like Garlon to the stump immediately after cutting. The herbicide will get drawn into the roots and prevent sprouts. Clear beech is an underappreciated hardwood. It can make wide clear dense boards but unless treated carefully it can split when drying. It is not a fancy grain.

Beech are also an important mast tree, it you look on a mature beech you can usually find the scars from bears climbing them. I have several "bear beeches" on my property. Unfortunately the bears can carry the blight from tree to tree under their claws. Mature trees have various tolerance to the blight but the young trees are less tolerant. Generally a stand that regenerates after a cut will be loaded with blight.
 

mcdougy

Minister of Fire
Apr 15, 2014
806
ontario
If the beech blight has not gotten to your spot, you are lucky. It is great firewood, if you do not have oak in your woods, its about the highest BTU content of northern hardwoods. Like oak it takes 2 years to dry. Many folks do not plan well and do not dry it enough and then complain about it not burning well. It does clone itself from its roots quite aggressively especially after a clear cut. It will outcompete other more desirable species. The only way to really kill it for good is to cut it and apply a low concentration herbicide like Garlon to the stump immediately after cutting. The herbicide will get drawn into the roots and prevent sprouts. Clear beech is an underappreciated hardwood. It can make wide clear dense boards but unless treated carefully it can split when drying. It is not a fancy grain.

Beech are also an important mast tree, it you look on a mature beech you can usually find the scars from bears climbing them. I have several "bear beeches" on my property. Unfortunately the bears can carry the blight from tree to tree under their claws. Mature trees have various tolerance to the blight but the young trees are less tolerant. Generally a stand that regenerates after a cut will be loaded with blight.
Ok, are you saying cutting some down will actually cause more new growth? And that new growth is more than likely to be diseased? Therefore I should leave this little pocket alone....?? Also we do not have bears this far south in ontario
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,685
Northern NH
Note I asked if the blight had made it to your part of the world?. Blight is real obvious. It starts out as black spots like acne and eventually makes pockmarks in the trunk. If you do not have blight in the area, leave it. Yes if you cut it, it will sprout from the roots unless you use herbicide.
 
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hickoryhoarder

Minister of Fire
Apr 5, 2013
733
Indiana
If we're talking firewood, beech is good. Wish I had more. In terms of forest ecology, beech can act as sort of an invasive in oak-hickory forests where fire has been suppressed by humans. And once it gets dominant it tends to shade out young trees of most species.
 
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sesmith

Feeling the Heat
Dec 11, 2009
278
Central NY
If the beech is healthy, leave it.

The issue with beech in our area, is that it's almost all riddled with beech bark disease, which weakens and eventually kills it. It reproduces mainly by root sprouts, so the new beech will genetically be the same as the old and not resistant to beech bark disease. 2nd issue is that the deer don't like beech. They pass over it for more desirable species like oak, maple, cherry, etc. So, the infected beech dies, the root sprouts have an advantage over and out-compete the more desirable species we want in the woods, and the deer encourage the beech while decimating the desirable species. So a disturbance or logging in our area will result in a beech thicket rather than regenerating desirable species in the forest.

So where our forest is in Central NY, we do our best to control the beech when logging and doing timber stand improvement by taking out the diseased beech, and treating the stumps with glyphosate to kill off the stump sprouts and root sprouts. This gives the other seedlings more of a chance, if it were not for the deer browse. Wouldn't have to do this if the beech wasn't diseased as it's a desirable part of a healthy forest when it's healthy.
 
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Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,815
Fairbanks, Alaska
I am in favor of biodiversity. Beech is often culled from timber lots because it is prone to center rot, very difficult to season into flat square lumber, and moves a fair bit seasonally with humidity swings in finished goods.

Deer like beech nuts, which is good if you like deer meat. It is a very mild cooking wood, suitable for white fish when cooking over open fire. If you like old school woodworking, dovetails, mortise and tenon joints and etc, beech is traditional for things that can move a little bit in service. Good spoons, tool handles, I would not use it for casework with drawers in it. Excellent firewood.

If you decide to try to air dry some lumber, take some arborseal or latex paint into the woods with you. As soon as you get it off the stump, square up the end of the big log, turn your saw off and get the exposed end grained sealed up. It will start checking within one hour on warm sunny days of you don't.

I have a little beech lumber on my woodworking bench now, the flame pattern grain figure I find pleasing. The quarter sawn view can be over the top I think in large amounts. I have a thing to get done first, will try for pics later today.
 
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Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,815
Fairbanks, Alaska
Beech, at least in my shop, is quite tricky to photograph.

Linky to quartersawn american beech image: https://www.google.com/imgres?imgur...hUKEwi68Lyl4pH1AhXCCjQIHbXOC0IQMygDegUIARC3Ag

Linky to a piece of American Beech with the flame pattern, an some less figured American beech under it: https://www.google.com/imgres?imgur...hUKEwj016O94pH1AhX8ATQIHat-BF8QMygBegUIARCaAg

The flame pattern does introduce some stress in the board as it dries. The tighter the pattern, the more stress there is in the board. World wide when wood workers are talking about beech they mean European beech unless American Beech is specified.

I do have one plank of flame grain Am beech in stock, equillibrating to my inside the house environment for two years that still breaks my heart the way it moves when I fool with it. The flame pattern can be finished for a lot of contrast if you like.
 
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mcdougy

Minister of Fire
Apr 15, 2014
806
ontario
I will take some pictures of a few of the beech and we can decide if they are healthy enough to leave.
I think they will be deemed health"ish" or better,but will wait for opinions.
I did take on a couple nice cherry trees that tipped out of the ground....
it is a very nice looking wood, the kind that makes a firewood cutter say " I should get a chainsaw mill going"......

20211231_145129.jpg 20211231_163836.jpg
 
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Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,280
Palmyra, WI
It's sad that the ash had such damage from disease and bugs as well and I just wonder how the beech would be in a wood stove.? clancey
Annual prairie fires would have limited most of these trees to far lower levels. Here it's oak wilt. All of the oldest are post settlement. The types that resprout after fire, like redoak (maybe beach) apparently had root crowns many feet in diameter, just ready to take off when the fires subsided.
 
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mcdougy

Minister of Fire
Apr 15, 2014
806
ontario
I am in favor of biodiversity. Beech is often culled from timber lots because it is prone to center rot, very difficult to season into flat square lumber, and moves a fair bit seasonally with humidity swings in finished goods.

Deer like beech nuts, which is good if you like deer meat. It is a very mild cooking wood, suitable for white fish when cooking over open fire. If you like old school woodworking, dovetails, mortise and tenon joints and etc, beech is traditional for things that can move a little bit in service. Good spoons, tool handles, I would not use it for casework with drawers in it. Excellent firewood.

If you decide to try to air dry some lumber, take some arborseal or latex paint into the woods with you. As soon as you get it off the stump, square up the end of the big log, turn your saw off and get the exposed end grained sealed up. It will start checking within one hour on warm sunny days of you don't.

I have a little beech lumber on my woodworking bench now, the flame pattern grain figure I find pleasing. The quarter sawn view can be over the top I think in large amounts. I have a thing to get done first, will try for pics later today.
Wow, This man knows his wood!! Thank You for the information.
Do you have summers off and teach woodworking by chance ??
I am all for biodiversity so if the trees look ok, I will leave them alone.
 
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clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
2,390
Colorado
You all know your wood and I am just wondering--what do you mean when you say it moves or something and that beech board is "pretty" and just guessing here I would think it is real "light" in weight--just guessing here..What do you all think about Elm and that tree seems to have those sprouts sprouting up too maybe like beech and my husband carved some wood and used to complain about how hard maple was to work with --too hard or something--interesting thread..thanks clancey
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,208
Long Island NY
It moves,. meaning it expands and contracts (unevenly, depending on the grain), with changing humidity.

So join two pieces together, and cracks can appear. Requires good thinking about how it'll move due to the orientation of the grain.

This is "carpentry 101".
I didn't say that to knock you, but all folks working with wood know this (or at least should).
 
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Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,815
Fairbanks, Alaska
I am very much a beginner at "woodworking." On the one hand my first wood working job, 50 years ago, was hauling sawdust out from under my dad's tablesaw with my Tonka collection. I only got away from construction lumber and drywall screws in the last three years or so.

I like a little bit of figured wood here and there in things I build, other folks like a lot of figure and others want the wood painted over so it doesn't look like wood anymore. All three are valid stylistic choices.

American Beech is relatively light in color, especially when steamed, but not light in weight or mass. Lighter than red oak, darker than white oak in color. Sort of like hickory only more pinkish in color. It is a good firewood because of its high weight/ high mass.

I am building a till for my handsaws now out of American Beech. Panel is 11 inches wide at the end with the tails cut from it. Underlying work bench top is Doug Fir. I'll get some pics hopefully next week. I am using a little bit of flame grain for part of it that will photograph better once it has some finish on it.

FWIW the "big three" in North American hardwood making things are oak, maple and walnut with cherry likely a close fourth. American beech and hickory are pretty well known, but beech moves a lot and hickory is very hard on edged tools. Poplar, machines easily, rot resistant and takes paint well. Good for exterior window trim for instance.... Ash, good for steam bending and impact tools like axe handles and baseball bats....

I could go on and on. A diverse forest or wood lot has the best chance of surviving whatever disease comes down the pike next.

20220101_172811[1].jpg
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,815
Fairbanks, Alaska
@clancey American Elm is a fooker. Highly cross connected grain. Very difficult to split, takes for ever to season. However, if you wanted to build a covered wagon and hit the Oregon trail elm would be a terrific choice for the hubs on your spoked wheels, because it is very hard to split.

Hard/ Rock/ Sugar Maple is a bit of an aristocrat among the North American hardwoods. I have worked with it some. Requires extremely sharp tools and has a low tolerance for foolishness. But you can put incredibly crisp corners on maple with scrupulously sharp edges on the tools. Maple is not as destructive to edges on tools as hickory, but maple will bite you if you didn't bring your A game for sharpening. I would not choose maple for carving personally. It is too hard.

One species I am starting to see (in gallery photos of furniture) are bits of quartersawn sycamore here and there. It is lovely stuff, in moderation, to my eye.
 
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clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
2,390
Colorado
Thanks good information always wondered why he was b so much when he carved a piece but it is a real smooth pretty piece and blondish in color and about two feet in height and I would put a picture of it on here but would be flagged and it said on the bottom after he finished it--God is Love.. So use your imagination here--lol-- old clancey
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,815
Fairbanks, Alaska
@stoveliker has it correct on wood movement. When we each season firewood we get some cracks, some checking, on our end grain, and some of our fuel gets all pretzeled up with bow and crook and cup as it dries out.

These are not flaws in firewood, but they are in lumber. The other thing is once you have good lumber, a good board or plank at some Moisture Content compatible with indoors, the wood is still going to expand and contract with the seasons. So building stuff that doesn't try to tear itself apart is a thing when you let go of plywood and particle board and dive into the rabbit hole.

This is the big reason really old furniture is in glass boxes with a humidity meter inside the box. The chairs out of King Tut's tomb for instance, seasoned in the Egyptian desert however many centuries, would likely shatter into splinters in an afternoon on a sidewalk in Atlanta in July.

If you like American furniture they got an overload of it at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Truckloads of the stuff. Room after room after room. Colonial, Federal, on and on and on. Humidity meters all over the place.
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,815
Fairbanks, Alaska
@clancey , if I were to attempt a carving in maple two feet high it would end up in a BBQ pit to smoke bacon and I would drink heavily for days afterwards.
 
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