Last fall, my wife saw a post on Freecycle about an ash tree that had been taken down in a neighboring town. No pictures but they said it was pretty big. I jumped on it, and was lucky enough to be the first one to respond. We drove there and WOW, hit the motherload! Two large log sections, over 2 feet in diameter, one 15 feet long, one 8 feet long, both perfectly straight with almost no branches or knots and no rot.
I’d been eyeing a small sawmill that’s only a mile from my house every since we moved here three years ago, so I was happy to finally be able to see what they could do. Called them up, $100 to pick up the logs and $200 to mill them, and I could watch the milling and tell them what I wanted.
Deal! I took a bunch of huge offcuts from the tree for wood turning, and some of it could probably be processed into boards if I’m ambitious. Filled my truck’s bed 3 times with huge heavy pieces. Help the home owner out by piling all the small branches and other junk into a single pile. They weren’t useful for me, but the owner didn’t mind, since I’d taken care of 99% of the rest of the tree.
The mill operator came and took the two giant logs… and I waited for him to call me to say he’s ready to cut… one week, two weeks, I call him and he says he’s been busy but next week, he’ll call me. I wait a week and a half and call him again… he says next week… wait again… call again, leave a message… no answer.
At this point, I haven’t actually given him any money, and I chalk it up as a bum deal, and figure he took my logs and ran. Well, three months later he calls me and says he hurt his back and hasn’t been able to saw anything in months, but that he hasn’t forgotten and he’s going to get to it when he can. Finally, a few weeks ago he calls me and says it’s all done. This is 6 months since he picked up the logs, mind you. Also, he was supposed to let me know when he was doing it so I could tell him what I want. But, he gives me a $100 break on the price since it was so long, and I get there and it all looks good, so I guess it’s fine.
374 board feet of perfectly clear ash, most of it 5/4, several 2.5×6” 15’ long beams, 4 of the 5/4 boards are 18-19” wide. I’m pretty happy with it. There’s beautiful dark tan heartwood and nary a blemish on it.
Getting 15’ long boards home was …. a challenge. My 5.5’ truck bed was not up to the task. Luckily I have a beater station wagon with (I measured) a 7’ long roof that was already scratched to hell. Right then, 4’ hanging off the front and back it is! The sawyer thought I was crazy, but it was really the only way I could do it… and it’s only a mile to my house. 6-ish trips later, and I was done.
Now I’m working on stacking it up to dry.
-- Nate, Harvard, MA