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Found Beutifully Figured Lumber being thrown away

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Forum topic by RichardDePetris posted 08-25-2015 02:50 AM 1036 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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RichardDePetris

45 posts in 1146 days


08-25-2015 02:50 AM

This weekend I was driving through my residential neighborhood and saw something that made me hit the brakes and turn around. No it wasn’t a beautiful woman or a stack of benjamins, but it may have well been. It was a stack of logs neatly piled on the curbside next to large brown paper bags of clippings. I pulled up and started loading them into my trunk. They were very wet and appeared to be cut the previous day. I chose the largest diameter ones and hesitated about getting the smaller ones. They were mostly limbs, but they were remarkably straight. In typical junkie fashion, I rationalized that it beats paying $5 a bag for wet firewood at the grocery store so I grabbed them anyway.

When I got home, I piled them up under my porch until I can find time to properly mill them. I found some wilted leaves still attached to some of the logs and used them to identify the tree on the web. My excitement ebbed a bit when I discovered it was crepe myrtle a classic ornamental tree with little utility in woodworking besides turning stock or walking canes. Neither of those appealed to me. I figured that I could cut it up for use as turning stock when I get around to getting a lathe.

I took my ax and cut off a flat on one side to inspect the grain. I finished the flattening it with my hand plane when I nearly dropped my Stanley on the concrete floor in awe:

I just struck gold. The wood was absolutely gorgeous. Even as wet wood, it had a very striking figure that was prettier than any curly maple I’ve seen.

I don’t have any specific plans for this wood, but I am considering using it as paneling. I may use it for making some kind of musical instrument as it has some interesting tonal properties. When I was unloading it, one of the logs fell on the floor and made a piecing ping sound. Not sure if it is a characteristic of a tonal wood, but the resemblance to curly maple makes me wonder.

I will have to seal the ends and wait for it to loose some of its moisture and then move them inside during the winter. I store logs near the intake of my HVAC. So far, I’ve had excellent results drying lumber this way, taking a couple of months to dry most species to useable levels.


8 replies so far

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

1738 posts in 599 days


#1 posted 08-25-2015 12:05 PM

Nice find!

That’s a good idea using the HVAC intake too. Never heard that before but will definitely tuck that tidbit away.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View bonesbr549's profile

bonesbr549

1176 posts in 2528 days


#2 posted 08-25-2015 12:58 PM

Dang that had to be one heck of a bush. My wife love those, and I do to. Ours are large but no where near that size.
Nice find.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View RichardDePetris's profile

RichardDePetris

45 posts in 1146 days


#3 posted 08-25-2015 02:42 PM



Dang that had to be one heck of a bush. My wife love those, and I do to. Ours are large but no where near that size.
Nice find.

- bonesbr549

Yeah, and that’s one of the smaller branches. I still have to process them all.

View WoodNSawdust's profile

WoodNSawdust

1417 posts in 637 days


#4 posted 08-25-2015 02:50 PM

Good find. I routinely check cut logs to see if there is anything interesting. Once I found some very nice spalted apple. I sent it to a friend’s kiln for drying unfortunately it never came back. Mark – I hope you make some great projects from the spalted apple.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View soob's profile

soob

223 posts in 669 days


#5 posted 08-27-2015 12:16 AM

I grabbed one of those from the curb once. I did not have any anchorseal at the time, so I painted the ends with paint. It warped and split like you wouldn’t believe.

So I’d suggest cutting it asap and drying it as slowly as you can.

View JoeinGa's profile

JoeinGa

7479 posts in 1468 days


#6 posted 08-27-2015 12:27 AM

That had to be some pretty big crepe myrtles

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

View RichardDePetris's profile

RichardDePetris

45 posts in 1146 days


#7 posted 08-27-2015 02:00 AM

Yesterday, I moved them out for sealing and saw some crack on some of the smaller diameter logs and almost freaked when I realized they were old previously cut stubs. The fresh cut ones were still Ok. This is a very fast drying wood with a tendency to crack. You have to know how to harness the beast.

As you can see the white ends are the freshly cut, while the dark colored ones were trimmed when the tree was healthy. In the Southern part of the US, Crepe Myrtle grows big and fast. This particular one probably fell ill from an infection. Many homeowners trim them to get more flowers, but neglect to seal the ends which checks and creates an even larger and deeper surface area for infection.

My wife had purchased a bunch of paint samples because she couldn’t make up her mind. We stored them in the garage with other paint. I used them to seal the end grain. i started with the blue paint which the logs sucked up like a blueberry milkshake. After about an hour I flooded the ends with orange paint, which created contrast from the first layer of paint.

Yup, dem logs sho’ awe thirsty! I used about three pints of paint for the entire bundle. Crepe Myrtle requires lots of water and has very porous end grain and a thin bark to maximize absorption of water. You should treat it differently from other lumber. Leave the bark on, seal the grain and allow it to dry on its own in a shaded, humid environment. The logs should be dry to the touch before you attempt to mill it, otherwise it will check violently. I will mill these logs in four months when the moisture has dropped considerably. Once they reach a certain moisture level, the cracking will cease. In fact, the large hollow fibers will collapse tightly dramatically decreasing its ability to absorb moisture.

I’ve worked with small pieces and they were very hard and stable.

Here is some info on the wood from wood database. I was surprised to find out that it is imported as lumber:

http://www.wood-database.com/lumber-identification/hardwoods/pyinma/

View bearkatwood's profile

bearkatwood

1195 posts in 473 days


#8 posted 08-27-2015 02:39 AM

Nice score. Those are fairly good size. I bet you could get a very nice jewelry box out of one of those. Years ago I bought an old crock pot and use canning wax to seal the ends. It makes a mess but it works. Good find on the beautiful wood. I would like to see what you do with it.

-- Brian Noel

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