How long are logs good for?

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Blog entry by sw_iowa_sawyer posted 05-31-2011 10:42 PM 2260 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have been asked several times by different folks two questions. The most common one is “I have this tree that needs to come down it is walnut and right next to my house. Will you cut it down, clean up all the mess, and pay me a premium cause it is walnut and that is worth big money. I get them the name of a good tree service!!!!

The second question I get asked quite often is “how long can logs sit on the ground and still be good”

Without a doubt in my opinion the best time to cut logs into lumber is when the tree’s are freshly cut. That sometimes is not always possible for whatever reason, so they sometimes sit for different amounts of time. I had an opportunity to cut some logs recently that had been down for quite some time. I would guess at least 2 or 3 years and maybe even closer to 5 years. The condition of logs that are in contact with the ground varies on many things, type of wood, location, weather, etc so it is a case by case issue. These old logs looked rough but I thought what the heck I would take a chance. The most I would be out is my time and some gas (which these days can add up) and a blade or two.
So I loaded up the saw and headed out, the site was really quite nice, the weather was cool and rainy not ideal, but not blazing hot which is always more difficult weather to work in. The scenery was very nice.

The log pile was stacked neatly for easy access even if the logs themselves looked rough it is easier to not have to jockey heavy logs if it can be avoided.

The saw was operating smoothly which is always a plus even if the logs are junky!!

The day spent with my kid and my nephew was a good time. I enjoy spending time with them, they are always full of energy and usually pretty funny.
The results were not as good as I hoped, but then that does happen once in a great while. It cost me breakfast for 3 ( with two college kids that can add up quickly), gas for the mill, gas for my truck, lunch for 3, and wages ( I should have deducted food expenses first) for two college kids. I had a good time and I did get a couple of decent boards out of the logs. Were a few old logs laying on the ground worth my time? UUUUUMMMMM YEAH!!!!

One trailer load of 8/4 clear walnut slabs, sometimes things really do work the way you hope!!!!

5 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3143 days

#1 posted 05-31-2011 11:02 PM

nice score and even a little sweatt out of the youngs ….priceless ….. LOL

thankĀ“s for sharing


View HorstPeter's profile


121 posts in 2858 days

#2 posted 05-31-2011 11:54 PM

I often see people selling logs in local online ads and nobody buys them for obvious reasons and so I always wonder just how long they will be of any value at all. Most of the time the money they want for it seems way too much considering the work you’d have and the cost for driving there and all that, even if you owned a portable mill.

Makes me wonder if people really would rather have the log lie around in their way and slowly start to rot instead of giving them away for “free” or at least a price that’s not wishful thinking.

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3046 days

#3 posted 06-01-2011 01:57 AM

People are funny when it comes to Walnut logs. They assume their log is top quality A number 1 and want price according too that scale when in fact their reasoning is flawed. A timber buyer will not give a price till the log is on the ground and preferably on his truck in his yard. So by that reasoning you should not confirm a price till the log is on the ground cause it may have a rotten core or infested with termites or other bugs. Only when you can see that the wood is prime or good enough for you or your use should you offer a price but nowhere near the price of veneer quality logs unless you have access to their services. The wood reaches peak value only after it is dried and not while still a living tree.

Logs keep better if off the ground and better yet without the bark as that is where all the insects get started. With proper care logs will last almost forever.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View rustfever's profile


752 posts in 3338 days

#4 posted 06-01-2011 03:01 AM

I have never paid for a tree or a log. There are many of them around, if you just are willing to wait a bit. I have about 10,000 bd ft of domestic ‘exotic’ hardwoods, less those donated to several great causes.

-- Rustfever, Central California

View TreeBones's profile


1827 posts in 4052 days

#5 posted 06-01-2011 03:05 AM

A lot of logs are over priced. I always like free ones. Looks like some nice material from these logs. I have seen some Black Walnut that’s been out in the weather long enough for the sap wood to rot off and the heart wood was just beautiful.

-- Ron, Twain Harte, Ca. Portable on site Sawmill Service

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