techniques #2: New way to clean my borer bug eaten Eucalyptus - wire wheel brush

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 04-21-2009 01:26 PM 4036 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Found a way I like to cut straight-end, non-through rip and crosscuts in plywood Part 2 of techniques series Part 3: PVC tube with hinged doors as lathe dust collector »

Wood IDs #6: Found Eucalyptus tree in LA - part 1 of 3
Wood IDs #7: Found Eucalyptus tree in LA - part 2 of 3
Wood IDs #8: Found Eucalyptus tree in LA - part 3 of 3

It’s a bit labor intensive getting all the bark and Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer bug excretion cleaned off the Eucalyptus tree I cut up into logs from a nearby neighborhood. It dawned on me a couple weeks ago that I could use a wire wheel brush in my drill press. I’ve used the technique to brush up aluminum cut out on the bandsaw before. This worked great, even allowing me to pretty rapidly sand away large stumps of branches all the way to flush with the logs. It gave an overall wind-worn look to the logs, but also got rid of any bugs under the bark. It made a right mess of that corner of my shop, too.

Here’s some shots of the Euc cleanups:

cleaning a Eucalyptus log with a wire wheel brush

Note all the little stumps on this one:

Eucalyptus log with bark

Stumps much smaller:

Eucalyptus log stripped of its stumps

Stumps and bark pretty much gone, minutes later:

Eucalyptus log stripped of its bark

It was after this that I determined my future dream shop will have 4 rooms: the dirty room for doing this kind of stuff – muddy log work and such, the cabinetmaker’s room, for all the usual woodworking/cabinetry/routing/sawing work, the metal room, for all the dirty, gritty, sooty metal cutting, shaping, and welding work (a different kind of dirty than the dirty room), and the finishing room, the cleanest of the rooms, vented and able to accept a few projects’ worth of things all drying away from the rest of the mess, allowing me to continue working while finishes dry up.

I found some amazing variety in the cross sections of this tree, almost making me wonder if maybe I’d found 2 different Eucs on that little hill. It’s possible. The cross-sections of the red-centered log remind me of melons, with the seed shaped checks:

Eucalyptus cross-section

These yellow-centered sections were much more wet, and smelled wonderfully of lemon cake. I couldn’t stop smelling the fresh cuts. I know about lemon-scented gum (Eucalyptus/Corymbia citriodora), but unfortunately, very little matches up between online examples and my tree:

Eucalyptus cross-section

Eucalyptus cross-section

Then I learned that miter saws are on the list of saws in which you should not run round stock. I had an admittedly too-short length of 5” thick log against the fence, held there by a long 2×2 which I was leaning on, to keep my hands out of the way. It got about 3/4” into it before the log rocketed out the back of the saw, banging into the wall. it also dragged the plastic shroud around the blade into the path and mangled it all up. I had to disassemble much of the shroud and fight with shredded plastic bits before it would go back together and work again.

damaged miter saw

I managed to do this again later in the day, after taking a break and doing only hand-cuts with a carpenter’s saw for awhile. I was holding a ~16”-18” length of ~2” thick log in there, felt it rock a bit while slowly cutting through it, trying for a really clean cut, and just like that it came hurtling at my face. My fingers were in the way, so it hit them, jamming one a bit, but I’m okay. Scary, though!

Here’s the haul I got this day, all sealed up with Anchorseal:

Eucalyptus logs cut up and sealed

And here’s the disaster at the drill press. Note the plastic hood and undersized shop-vac hose, both completely inadequate for this job. I have so much of this stuff, I’m wondering if I can use it for something. I wish I had a pelletizer. I’d run it all:

Eucalyptus dust on drill press table

I also used the Eucalyptus as an excuse to pick up a Homelite 16” electric chainsaw from Home Depot. I just wanted a simple, relatively quiet way to buck some logs in my tiny neighborhood rental house. This fits the bill well, and was a breeze to use. I pulled it out of the box, read the manual, poured in a little bar and chain oil, checked tension, which simply requires turning some knobs and pulling on the chain to see how loose it is, and started cutting. Can’t really be any easier, and when you let go of the button, it stops dead.

Homelite 16

Finally, I used a huge check in one end of a small log of Eucalyptus as an excuse to try something I’ve been wondering about – resawing logs by hand. It was a LOT of work just to get through this tiny thing with my 15” carpenter’s saw, though with the proper jig setup, and the longer Irwin carpenter’s saws I’ve picked up (20” & 24”), it would be a lot easier. My arm was shot after this one cut, and it went through straight, but diagonally so. I guess it’s something you develop endurance and ‘a feel for.’ Eventually I’d like to do a project sans electricity.

manually resawn log

manually resawn Eucalyptus log

manually resawn Eucalyptus log

sealed, manually resawn Eucalyptus log

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

4 comments so far

View TheRecklessOne's profile


15 posts in 2747 days

#1 posted 04-21-2009 02:45 PM

Have you ever tried splitting with wedges and tapping with the back side of an axe? Far faster than ripping by hand saw and far safer than trying to resaw that bad boy on a band or table saw. Good find. I love eucalyptus.

-- Sponsored by craigslist brand power tools!

View Karson's profile


35032 posts in 3819 days

#2 posted 04-21-2009 03:42 PM

I use a bandsaw for cutting up pieces of wood like that. But you still need a firm grip but it’s pulling into the table top and doesn’t fly.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View kiwi1969's profile


609 posts in 2861 days

#3 posted 04-21-2009 03:50 PM

Bet your beard got dusty doing that! hope you had a good mask on, hate to be breathing all that borer crap.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View mmh's profile


3664 posts in 3141 days

#4 posted 05-02-2009 12:49 AM

I was wondering about the dust situation. Even a bandito styled bandana would be better than nothing to protect your lungs.

I just purchased some Borate to apply to my lumber as suggested by Karsen, as some wood I have has been treated with pesticides and some with alcohol and a few still have had signs of larvae activity, so I hope to do a light coating on suspect lumber to prevent any further damages. Here’s my source:

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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