Tips On Harvesting Beach Wood Or Drift Wood

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Blog entry by OregonBurls posted 01-05-2013 04:26 PM 15167 reads 2 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Processing Beach wood

I took a trip to the beach for wood yesterday and that I will share some lessons that I have learned throughout the years of harvesting off the beach.

Harvesting beach wood for turning or your wood project is a lot of work but you know how we are… Yah we are like kids in a candy store. We will beige, borrow or steal to get our candy. Well hopefully not steal. I like beach wood because it is more stable than green wood. It has been soaking and drying and soaking and drying for sometimes years.

There are places on the Oregon coast that you can take a chain saw and cut what you want without permits. Many cut for fire wood but there are a few of us who see more value in the beach wood. You can find burl, curly wood, fiddle back wood, flame figure and lots of spalted woods. The trick with the spalted woods is trying to figure out what kind of wood it is. I will have to right and article on identifying wood from the beach some time later. But for now I will stick with the subject.

Beach wood or drift wood comes with a lot of baggage. You know like your second cousin’s nephew but we won’t go there. Beach wood is covered in sand. That is a no brainer but how do you deal with the sand on the surface of the wood and in the deep cracks and splits. Sand for obvious reasons dull anything sharp tool that you put to it. It will tare up your chain saw chains not to mention your bar, tare up your band saw blades and your turning tools. So how to you get to the minimum dulling of your tools from the beach to your lathe?

(I am open to discussion on this) The first step getting it from the beach is cutting most of the surface wood off at the beach. This is where I get rid of most of the sand in my wood. I am very careful of where I cut. Here are some pointers that I keep in mind for your beach trip:
  • • Make sure you have your hearing, eye and hand protection.
  • • Make sure that you bring your tools and chain sharpener. ( I forgot my gas and oil so a little extra cost there)
  • • Make sure that you use appropriate bar oil. You don’t to be skimping on the oil especially in sand.
  • • I will never let my blade hit the sand that the log is laying on. Brush off any sand that you can see on the log.
  • • I will only to 90 degree cuts to the log and with the grain cuts to the log.
  • • Never cut down a crack (that is where sand works its way in. I will cut along side of the crack and then trim it off with my band saw when I get to the shop.

The reason for the 90 degree and along the grain cut is to get into the good wood. You will get past the surface sand quickly when you use just these to angles. I try and use these to cuts even off the beach. It is easier on your saw and less work for you.

This last trip I got off the beach about 3000 lbs by myself in about a half a day. I guess that is the old Alaska fishermen in me that just says “get it done” happened.

So when I get the wood home or to my shop I have for the most part clean wood or easily trimmable (is this a word. LOL!)blocks where I can avoid the sand. So Yesterday I only dulled one chain because I was first of all fortunate and second I was careful of where and what I cut.

Free of Sand! Yahoo!

Hope this helps

God Bless

-- Greg, Southern Oregon, What can I say but God Is Good!

11 comments so far

View Brit's profile


7374 posts in 2838 days

#1 posted 01-05-2013 04:47 PM

Just out of curiosity Greg, where does all that beach wood come from. I live on the south coast of England and all I ever see washed up on our coastline are dead crabs, seaweed and the odd plastic bottle.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3329 days

#2 posted 01-05-2013 04:50 PM

Good blog with many learning points Greg. I wonder if any of that Japanese debris will be showing up on your shores.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View OregonBurls's profile


580 posts in 3143 days

#3 posted 01-05-2013 05:00 PM

Hi Brit, I should have covered that. this is at the stream terminus of a river. When the heavy rains come and swell the river it washes a lot of wood down and then comes on the beach for the most part.

On another note Stefang, Yes, I would think that we get debris from there but most if the stuff from Japan is caught in the Japanese current that takes it up to Alaska shores.

-- Greg, Southern Oregon, What can I say but God Is Good!

View JoeinGa's profile


7736 posts in 2002 days

#4 posted 01-05-2013 06:13 PM

Wow, you have a gold mine there, free for harvesting? What could be better than that?

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View EOD_Eric's profile


29 posts in 3223 days

#5 posted 01-05-2013 07:37 PM

Greg, awesome post and great idea..looks like I will try to head to the coast the next time I have the weekend free. Thanks so much for the info.


View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3232 days

#6 posted 01-05-2013 09:08 PM

I’d love to come help harvest your beach wood, but it would be cheaper to buy the most expensive wood I can find before I’d freight free wood back to East Tennessee… I’m still green with envy!

-- Hal, Tennessee

View OregonBurls's profile


580 posts in 3143 days

#7 posted 01-05-2013 09:15 PM

I may be taking a trip to Mississippi soon. I can bring you a truck load!

-- Greg, Southern Oregon, What can I say but God Is Good!

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3013 days

#8 posted 01-06-2013 04:02 AM

I would love to have some, I am a wood scavenger and have too much but I’d rather have too much than not enough! When I was on vacation last summer, I saw all this wood on the beaches in Washington and really wished I had a truck to haul some of it back home but I flew there! What part of Mississippi will you be going to? I could make a short trip there if assured of some wood!

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Spoontaneous's profile


1334 posts in 3325 days

#9 posted 01-06-2013 01:58 PM

I like this post. Those photos of the wood just piled up on the beach makes me crazy. I am hard pressed to find even a small piece of wood on the South Florida beaches. And I think it would be so much fun cutting into some of those logs and branches ….. it be like a box of chocolates, where you don’t know what you have until you bite into it.

I think I could set up a little shack on that beach and happily live out my days doing a bit of carving.

Thanks for the post.

-- I just got done cutting three boards and all four of them were too short. (true story)

View Spoontaneous's profile


1334 posts in 3325 days

#10 posted 01-06-2013 04:18 PM

p.s. ~ there is a nice looking spoon in that ‘Free of Sand’ photo…

-- I just got done cutting three boards and all four of them were too short. (true story)

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4059 days

#11 posted 01-06-2013 05:13 PM

More reasons why to me Oregon is my retirement destination…

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

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