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Forum topic by Wingstress posted 09-12-2009 11:59 PM 4604 views 2 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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335 posts in 2938 days

09-12-2009 11:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: maple question

A buddy of mine is taking down a huge maple in his front yard because he wants more sun. Even as a woodworker, I think he is nuts to destroy something so beautiful, but before I let him spend thousands hauling it away, he said I could mill as much as I wanted. I found another friend who says he can cut the slabs with his chainsaw and guide bar and has done if before, with nothing to worry about (Yeah right!)

Anyway, I know quartersawn oak, lacewood, etc produces great patterns. Is there any advantage to trying to quartersaw maple, or should I just be happy with the fact that I have a 40” diameter tree with a gigantic crotch with maybe four to six 10-inch diameter branches shooting off of it with burls hanging all over.

I might be able to get some pics to show you what I mean, but I think just slicing through the crotch will be cool enough. I’d like to make a bookmatched kitchen table, or coffee table, real thick and heavy (again way outside my bandsaw box comfort zone)

I’m entering a new world of woodworking for me, I’m a box maker, not a turner, so I don’t think slicing off the burls will be that valuable to me. I have no idea what kind of maple its is, just huge and in central northern Connecticut. How do you know if it will be birdseye, quilted, fiddleback, or not even homedepot worthy?

Any thoughts, things to look for before cutting away (besides power lines) would be greatly appreciated. (I think I have a sun powered kiln set up for the winter and plan to wax seal the ends, but again, I’m completely a novice.)


-- Tom, Simsbury, CT

23 replies so far

View Durnik150's profile


647 posts in 2745 days

#1 posted 09-13-2009 12:07 AM

Well, first off, I would never pass up any opportunity to grab a least some of the wood. I have one of the chainsaw mills also and have had mixed results. If your friend is experienced in its use, go for it. You could end up with some wonderful wood.

I had my local HOA cut down some maples (silver) in my neighborhood about 3 years ago. I grabbed several pieces and they turned out to be wonderful bandsaw boxes. If you take a look in my gallery, the Maple Trio came from some of that wood. You don’t necessrily have to use the wood for huge pieces.

If your friend can mill it and you can store it, go for it!!!

-- Behind the Bark is a lot of Heartwood----Charles, Centennial, CO

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 2948 days

#2 posted 09-13-2009 01:30 AM

There isn’t anything special about quartersawn maple other than it being more stable. Just flatsaw the log.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 3000 days

#3 posted 09-13-2009 01:33 AM

Go for it enjoy

-- Custom furniture

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 2981 days

#4 posted 09-13-2009 02:28 AM

Geez….............If it wasn’t so far, I would like to have the burl you slice off. I know they value of that stuff. Go for it and save as much as you can.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View Wingstress's profile


335 posts in 2938 days

#5 posted 09-13-2009 04:38 AM

I had no idea you were so close. The tree is up in Suffield. Unfortunately, I just hurt my shoulder last week so the project might be delayed a while, maybe until spring. I got my single engine license a few years ago, but am not current (ever since the kids). Anyway, I checked out your website, I wish you had more pics of the type of work you do. Any interest in tool/wood swaps. I’m looking for some electric motors, have some to trade and also just maybe a local group of guys that want to get together occasionally. Do you know many woodworkers in the area?

You don’t have to tell me to save everything. I have have buckets of 1X1 inch square cutoffs I won’t throw away, if I find a burl for you, I’ll let you know…

-- Tom, Simsbury, CT

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 2904 days

#6 posted 09-13-2009 02:41 PM

Julian’s right, you won’t get anything special by having the maple quatersawn other then more stable wood. So flat sawing it would be more efficient. As far as milling it down goes, you might want to look and see if there’s anyone in the area with a portable bandsaw mill that could come there and saw the tree up for you.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View DaneJ's profile


56 posts in 2632 days

#7 posted 09-13-2009 10:51 PM

I am not an expert, but I have milled over 700 bdFt of Cherry, Maple and Walnut in the past few years. With the disclaimer out of the way, here are some pointers from my learning experience:
1. Protect yourself !!! get a pair of Kevlar chaps and gloves. IMO a forestry helmet is a must, the screen will protect your face from flying chips and the built in ear muffs are convenient and comfortable.
2. A ripping chain is a must!!! I use the WoodlandPRO 33RP, the Granberg style is a bear to sharpen and nearly twice the price. Get a few spare loops when you order them.
3. A high quality bar is a must… I have found the Oregon Powermatch Plus and the WoodlandPRO bars to be outstanding.
4. Get largest chainsaw you can afford, I have 2 mills, my larger mill uses an old Stihl 066(48” mill), my small mill is a new Stihl MS441, both are adequate for my occasional milling.
5. I seal the ends of the logs as soon as they are cut. I use a miniroller for shellac I don’t buy the special sealer, partly because I am too cheap ;) I just get a gallon of zinzer from your local big-box.

I am fortunate to have a Stihl dealer nearby that has almost everything in stock, I had them tune up my old 066 a last year, they had an 880 in stock! I had the option of a trade in on an 880, man that was tempting.

None of my local dealers will order rip chains for me. They say that rip chains are a severe kickback hazard and legally they just don’t offer them. I order rip chains and bars from the service and prices are very good.

-- Dane, Fairview Pk, OH. The large print giveth and the small print taketh away... Tom Waits

View BTKS's profile


1984 posts in 2887 days

#8 posted 09-14-2009 05:39 AM

I’ve logged as an amature several times. I cut and load up my own logs and take them to a local sawyer. I’ve had great luck with my locals but my favorite has been a guy with a stationary bandsaw mill. About every 5th to 6th board is extra, not sawdust in the pile outside. The band only takes 3/32 instead of 3/8 of an inch kerf. The band also leaves much shallower tooth marks. 5/4 can actually be milled to full 4/4. My best advice is cut logs at about eight feet. A lot easier for you to handle but not too short for the sawyer. They have to adjust the cutter or the log every pass. Eights are easy to sticker and dry as well not very many woodworking projects require boards over 4 to 6 feet long anyway. My first attempt at logging had me cutting 14 and 16 foot logs. Real heavy to handle and a bear to store. My two cents, hope this helps in some way. BTKS

Any questions, post or PM, I’ll put this one on watch list.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View WIwoodworker's profile


65 posts in 3121 days

#9 posted 09-14-2009 04:04 PM

I’m pretty partial to maple and think there’s always something interesting if you know what to look for. Although it’s not common because it needs to be sawn accurately, quartersawn maple can be very attractive and produces a fine fleck pattern as does cherry when quartersawn well. Here’s a photo of a nice piece of red maple.

When finished this pattern will almost sparkle.

If it’s a big tree pay attention to any crotches. There can be very nice patterns in the wood around these areas. It’s not uncommon to find compression curls in these places in addition to nice feathered crotch patterns.

I’m also a sucker for really wide boards. So if your buddy has a big enough bar on his chainsaw mill you can slice off some very nice pieces. Good luck with your tree! It’s sounds like a great deal for you.

-- Allen, Milwaukee, WI

View Wingstress's profile


335 posts in 2938 days

#10 posted 09-18-2009 02:54 AM

Hey guys, thanks for the great advice. I got a “crappy” picture from a cell phone that doesn’t do it justice. Its about 36” in diameter (looks much smaller in the picture). The Crotch is about 12 feet up off the ground. I’ve got a tree man that is coming in a couple weeks that said he’ll chip and haul everything under 2 inches, cut everything under 6” into fire logs, and leave everything else in 8 foot sections. I’ll be there with a bucket of wax for the ends the day he cuts it. Needless to say, I’m really excited!!!


-- Tom, Simsbury, CT

View DaneJ's profile


56 posts in 2632 days

#11 posted 09-18-2009 03:20 AM

hint… before you put the wax on, draw or paint a big V on the end so you can stack in log-order, it will make it easier to book match later…

looks like you may get some good crotches in the forst 20’

post some pics when you get it sliced up

Good luck.

-- Dane, Fairview Pk, OH. The large print giveth and the small print taketh away... Tom Waits

View Wingstress's profile


335 posts in 2938 days

#12 posted 09-18-2009 03:25 AM

Thanks, Dane J. I had thought of that, but need to put it on my list…

-- Tom, Simsbury, CT

View okwoodshop's profile


448 posts in 2598 days

#13 posted 09-18-2009 04:28 AM

the band mill is a great idea better than a chainsaw mill, you will loose to much wood, i tried to cut up a maple on my yard and it was more work than worth. check my projects and you will see some of the wood i saved in a rocker(mine was box elder). the bad thing about trees near a house are nails and other metal( we found six) they are hard on any blade or chain, hope you get some good lumber (ps be sure to save some natural edge boards)

View rbterhune's profile


176 posts in 2644 days

#14 posted 09-19-2009 06:11 PM

I love furniture and other crafts made of wood, but I’m even more into wood in it’s natural state sometimes. I can’t believe he’s cutting that thing down.

View Wingstress's profile


335 posts in 2938 days

#15 posted 09-20-2009 12:02 AM

I know rbterhune, I think he is nuts! It does hang over his driveway and drop stuff on all his cars (his passion is cars not wood) He says he also hates raking the leaves and the front lawn doesn’t have enough grass. I figure that thing has been there for 100 years and deserves another 100 years. Who am I to take it down? But hey, if its coming down hopefully I can use it as a learning experience and maybe get some nice projects out of it that last another 100 years…


-- Tom, Simsbury, CT

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