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Forum topic by dbockel2 posted 11-24-2015 09:26 PM 710 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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dbockel2

107 posts in 415 days


11-24-2015 09:26 PM

I imagine this is a not-uncommon question and there are probably forum threads devoted to it. I didn’t see any so please forgive me if it is a redundant post.

I am curious what it takes (preparation and duration) to get hardwood to a condition whereby it can be used for projects from a living tree-state to a milled-lumber state. So, for example, a friend of mine had to chop down a black walnut tree over the weekend and he now has many nice sections of tree (bark still on). They are probably a few feet each in length. If I were to be given a few of these chunks, what steps would I need to do to refine it down into usable boards? How long would it take and is it even worth it? What portion of the tree would be the usable part (i.e. the darker heartwood or anything below the bark?) Any other information or resources here?

Thanks in advance,
David


14 replies so far

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XquietflyX

289 posts in 425 days


#1 posted 11-24-2015 09:45 PM

Yikes this is a big topic!!!
in general you want to let the wood dry out as slow as possible . I do this by painting the ends of the wood with any old latex paint. Depending on the climate you live in it can take from months to years to have the wood dry out naturally.

Some people Mill the lumber green and send it to a kiln ( like a big oven ) to get dried out.
If you have access to a mill you can pay them to process the wood for you . this would most likely get you the most amount of useable wood.
If you prefer to do it your self, you can get a “portable mill” like a beam machine or a grandberg mini mill but you will need a REALLY beefy chainsaw and some strong arms!!!!

Good luck!!!

-- You can tell a lot about your wife by her hands, for example if they are around your throat she's prolly pissed off at you...

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nerdbot

97 posts in 826 days


#2 posted 11-24-2015 10:19 PM

Depending on the size of these “chunks” you might be able to do some of the rough sawing yourself. I’ve seen videos on YouTube from Matt Cremona, Darbin Orvar (Lynn) and Izzy Swan on how they use their bandsaw or tablesaw with jigs to “mill” smaller logs.

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Richard H

489 posts in 1145 days


#3 posted 11-24-2015 10:27 PM

I was talking to my lumberyard today about me having to take down some ash trees on my property and he mentioned they have a bandsaw mill that they offer as a service. He doesn’t do kiln drying but does know someone who does. I also know the woodmizer web site has a list of local sawyers that would either do it on site or you could take the logs to them for processing. You will have to judge if the amount you would get out of it would be worth the cost of milling or not.

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rwe2156

2198 posts in 946 days


#4 posted 11-25-2015 12:30 PM

Most mills have a minimum length requirement. The fellow I use is 42”.
Check that first.

Its a shame he whacked it up into small pieces like that.

Some people use the sapwood, some don’t its up to you.

After its cut, you sticker it air drying can take up to 2 years depending on the thickness and climate.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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ADHDan

800 posts in 1573 days


#5 posted 11-25-2015 03:38 PM

Can I piggyback a question on the topic? I have four small sections of a maple trunk, some of which (I suspect) contain nice burl. These sections are 16”-20” wide by 24”-30” long. Currently, they are sitting under my deck with the ends painted.

I have no chainsaw, my bandsaw is a 12” Craftsman (in great shape but with limited resaw capacity), and my table saw is a Grizzly 1023RL. I could probably find an axe (if needs be) but I’ve never used one before. I also have a Ryobi saber saw and a garden-variety handsaw.

With this equipment (or cheap additional tools), is there anything I can do with these trunk sections?

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

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rwe2156

2198 posts in 946 days


#6 posted 11-25-2015 03:55 PM


Can I piggyback a question on the topic? I have four small sections of a maple trunk, some of which (I suspect) contain nice burl. These sections are 16”-20” wide by 24”-30” long. Currently, they are sitting under my deck with the ends painted.

I have no chainsaw, my bandsaw is a 12” Craftsman (in great shape but with limited resaw capacity), and my table saw is a Grizzly 1023RL. I could probably find an axe (if needs be) but I ve never used one before. I also have a Ryobi saber saw and a garden-variety handsaw.

With this equipment (or cheap additional tools), is there anything I can do with these trunk sections?

- ADHDan

Short answer: No.

Splitting is out of the question, so forget the axe ;-)
Most sawmills can’t handle logs that short.

Bandsawing with a sled would be best. Perhaps you could locate someone with a bigger machine?

My advice is rent a chainsaw and build some kind of rack to hold it and make whatever cuts you want to do.
If you want dimensional lumber, you could saw them down the middle, do some rough flattening, and use your bandsaw.

You could also opt to 1/4 saw once you open the wood up you’ll see what you’ve got. May be spalted if its been sitting under your deck very long?

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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XquietflyX

289 posts in 425 days


#7 posted 11-25-2015 03:57 PM

If you have a Harbor freight somewhere close you can pick up a cheap eletric chainsaw. About 50 bucks. A small 14inch one , and alot of patience will get you though. Id be hesitant to try with just the tools you mentioned, but a cheap chainsw will do you wonders.

-- You can tell a lot about your wife by her hands, for example if they are around your throat she's prolly pissed off at you...

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BobAnderton

219 posts in 2255 days


#8 posted 11-25-2015 04:00 PM

OP, let people know where you are. Maybe someone reading this is close and will help you mill it. I use a Granberg Alaskan mill and a chainsaw to mill into 2” slabs. They are cheap and this is a great excuse to get one. Coat the ends with Anchorseal (available from Amazon if you’re just getting a little) to prevent end checking. Stack the slabs with lengths of 1×2 between them in the backyard on some cement blocks with more cement blocks on top of the stack and a tarp over the stack to keep the rain off but with the sides of the stack exposed. Give it about 6-9 months like that then move the slabs into your attic for another 6 months or so and you’ll be dry enough for use on inside projects. 2” stock stays flat more reliably than 1” stock and you can resaw it to the thickness you need later and have plenty of material.

-- Bob Anderton - Austin, TX - Nova 3000 lathe, Alaskan Mark III mill, Husqavarna Saw

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BobAnderton

219 posts in 2255 days


#9 posted 11-25-2015 04:03 PM

OP, let people know where you are. Maybe someone reading this is close and will help you mill it. I use a Granberg Alaskan mill and a chainsaw to mill into 2” slabs. They are cheap and this is a great excuse to get one. Get the type that clamps both ends of the chainbar. Coat the ends with Anchorseal (available from Amazon if you’re just getting a little) to prevent end checking. Stack the slabs with lengths of 1×2 between them in the backyard on some cement blocks with more cement blocks on top of the stack and a tarp over the stack to keep the rain off but with the sides of the stack exposed. Give it about 6-9 months like that then move the slabs into your attic for another 6 months or so and you’ll be dry enough for use on inside projects. 2” stock stays flat more reliably than 1” stock and you can resaw it to the thickness you need later and have plenty of material.

-- Bob Anderton - Austin, TX - Nova 3000 lathe, Alaskan Mark III mill, Husqavarna Saw

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ADHDan

800 posts in 1573 days


#10 posted 11-25-2015 09:22 PM

Thanks for the advice. I’m sure I can scrounge up an electric chainsaw somewhere. With a little tuning and a good resaw blade my bandsaw actually can handle a 5-6” cut pretty well, so a few strategic cuts and a little flattening might do the trick.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

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fuigb

404 posts in 2423 days


#11 posted 11-26-2015 12:35 AM

I scavange the remains from local tree-removals: usually 18” – 20” that range from 10” to 20” in diameter. Short stuff, but if you don’t get why someone would go this route I cannot explain it and have it mean anything. My point, though, is that with my 14” Jet BS I quarter-saw, paint the ends, sticker, and air dry under a few bags of portland cement. A box fan on a timer keeps things moving, and after one year for each inch I have material that means something to me. I’m not a lumberjack with special training, rather I work hard and through online resesrch and trial & error have developed practices that work, meaning that if this city boy can do it anyone can.

Re: axes and such…sometimes I will use a maul and splitting wedges to get real wide stuff into manageable size. Sometimes I get the result that I want and sometimes I get hand-worked firewood, but the takeaway is that mills and even chainsaws are not indispensible if you’re patient, ambitious, and not a weakling.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

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Tim

3118 posts in 1426 days


#12 posted 11-26-2015 01:09 AM



Re: axes and such…sometimes I will use a maul and splitting wedges to get real wide stuff into manageable size. Sometimes I get the result that I want and sometimes I get hand-worked firewood, but the takeaway is that mills and even chainsaws are not indispensible if you re patient, ambitious, and not a weakling.

- fuigb

Yeah an axe isn’t going to get you far, but I’ve also used splitting wedges on decent size pieces from the trunk of a tree and gotten useable pieces.

For the OP, it’s too bad your friend let them cut the pieces so short. Wood checks and splits from the ends, so short pieces will mostly be lost to checking. I realize tree services cut them that way on purpose to be manageable sizes. You may have some luck splitting the pieces into quarters and drying them that way, or you can cut bowl blanks out of them if you have a lathe.

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fuigb

404 posts in 2423 days


#13 posted 11-26-2015 03:49 AM

@tim

I don’t have problems with checking on .my shorts. I’ll plank my findings while they’re still literally smoking from the tree service’s execution. I paint the ends with whatever near-dead latex paint is around and that’s it. Stcker, stack, and bags of cement mix. Checking that you experience/ hypothesize occurs in kiln dried stock? Or maybe I’m just lucky?

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

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Monte Pittman

22023 posts in 1803 days


#14 posted 11-26-2015 04:09 AM

Lots of factors go into this, lots of variables. I take it from the tree to the finished product. It’s very enjoyable, but not easy. Different wood takes from months to years. In a perfect world, next year I will build my own kiln.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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