I’m always on the lookout for trees I can use for green chairmaking, and while out running in the forest I found what seems to me to be a stand of young beech trees. They’re growing almost as if they had been coppiced, with several branches growing together. I’ve read that beech will tend to grow this way, since the bark disease kills the trunk but not the stump and so other trees grow back.
The bark looks like beech, but I’ve always thought that beech trees tend to keep at least some leaves over the winter (there are no leaves left on these trees). I had no camera with me when running and so I found a piece of a branch that was on the ground, brought it home, split it and scrub planed it.
It split beautifully, at least as easily and straight as oak.
There are, as you can see, bugs in it, although they don’t seem to look like the scale insects that drill holes in beech that allow beech bark disease to get in. On the other hand, the wood was on the ground in a very damp spot, which is why there’s so much spalting.
So here are pictures of the planed wood, branch with bark and planed endgrain.
Next time I go running there (has to be on the weekend, as I can only run after work in the week and it’s too dark) I can take a camera and get some pictures of the trees.
Beech used to be one of the cornerstone species in the forests around here, but between the bark disease and clear-cutting followed by herbicide and softwood replanting, it’s pretty rare to find it. I could make a nice post-and-rung chair out of only one of the coppiced pieces, but am worried that I’m mistaken on my identification and that it might be some kind of poplar instead.
-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests