Oak Tree down - Need Advice

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Forum topic by TMcG posted 04-27-2010 02:51 AM 2697 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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191 posts in 2964 days

04-27-2010 02:51 AM

A 40ft Red Oak has fallen over at my son’s girlfriends house, fortunately missing everything and causing no damage but is due to be “dismantled” tomorrow.

I have access to the wood that will be available but am not sure what I should do, ask for or organize and would really appreciate some advice as to the best way to go about this.

Do I get the trunk cut into sections ? How long should they be ? That sort of thing

I’m pretty sure I know a local lumber yard that can turn it into lumber or, if not them, I’m sure there’s someone around here (Mid CT) that could.

All advice appreciated



19 replies so far

View Dtharp's profile


28 posts in 3328 days

#1 posted 04-27-2010 03:07 AM

You might run into some issues getting this milled as it is in a residential area and screws/nails do not get along with blades. I’ve never had a tree milled but I would imagine the lengths you want would depend on what you want to build with it, but I believe 8-16 feet is pretty standard.

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

453 posts in 2968 days

#2 posted 04-27-2010 03:10 AM

It fell over due to a storm? Being rotten at the trunk? Can you tell if the heartwood is sound? If it just toppled over due to wet ground and wind, then there may be some nice figure in the root area.
You said 40 foot. What diameter is the trunk and how far from the ground to the first branch?

What do you make from wood usually? Small Items like boxes and pens or do you go more for larger lumber type projects? That would determine the final dimensions of what you would cut it to.

If you have the room to store a bunch of planks and can afford it, by all means get anything large diameter sawn into lumber, I would opt for the thicker dimensions, 8/4 10/4 12/4 and let it air dry or build a solar kiln. You can always resaw it and the thicker stuff tends to not cup and twist as much.

It doesn’t take much to saw up a log. A sharp ripping chain on a 24 ” saw and a follower attachment like an alaskan mill. I forgot to add the patience and some hearing protectors.

Good luck.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View TMcG's profile


191 posts in 2964 days

#3 posted 04-27-2010 03:29 AM

Good point, I’ll make sure to ask if they’ve nailed, pinned or used it as a pin-cushion over the years

Michael, ummm…. :-) Fraid I don’t know the answer to either of the 1st couple of questions, as I understand it, it was more of a topple than a shearing off.

Are they important ? the diameter and the distance to the 1st branch ?

I’m a total noob, got started with an interest in making fly tying stations and got sorta hooked but I would say I’m more of a larger project type for now, things like for example

So it’s expensive to get it milled down ?

If I had the faintest idea what your last paragraph meant I might be able to say something intelligent but….! :-)


View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3857 days

#4 posted 04-27-2010 03:48 AM

u r probably better off to burn it, cut it into firewood.

In the event the above seems ludicrous, find a sawyer with a portable sawmill and pay the man/woman the fee, most often $25?hr to $100/hr plus expenses like the band saw blade that gets smoked from cutting into a buried nail? trees suck for timber

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3267 days

#5 posted 04-27-2010 03:58 AM

if you can tell that the tree is sound…i would have it cut into 8 or 10 foot lengths…the have it sawn into 8/4 and 6 /4…these are very workable thickness’s…you want to have the lengths to be reasonable …especially if you are limited on storage take s about i year of drying per 1 inch of wood…i would air dry it if possible…kilns are rough on wood…talk to your sawyer about how to cut it up…weather you want flat sawn or quarter sawn…make sure you get some sealer and paint the ends, do this before you have it cut it will not take long this way…doing individual boards will be to time consuming…i hope maybe ive helped you..ive had numerous trees milled up, and have been very happy with having my own lumber store so to speak…red oak is pretty expensive, so this could be a very good deal…and could last you a long time…if you can have your sawyer pick the wood up and taken to his mill, that is the best way…this wood is wet and very heavy right now…but make sure there are no nails…as your sawyer will charge you if he breaks a blade …sometimes you cant help but maybe hit one…but if you have a metal detector…it will help with that problem…good luck….let us know how things go…grizzman

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

453 posts in 2968 days

#6 posted 04-27-2010 04:07 AM

That’s true about the metal possibilities in the wood. That’s what “Metal Detectors” are for.

Here is an example of an Alaskan Mill

If you can salvage even a few pieces to resaw or turn, or make into something, that tree will have lived for something other than just mulch or ash

That oak is worth 200 a cord as firewood in California perhaps. That is cut, split and dried for a year. And it get burned in the end.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View rustfever's profile


751 posts in 3273 days

#7 posted 04-27-2010 04:25 AM

my experiences tell me that you should only cut into the thickness you wish to use. If you do projects with boards, the cut it to 1 & 1/18” and maybe some 2 & 1/8”. These sizes wiill dry and finish to 3/4 and 1& 1/2” finished lumber If you primarliy wish to use it a turning stock, then any size from 12/4 to 20/4 works fine. However, do not expect to re-saw 8, 12,16,or larger stock into 4/4 stock. The re-sawn boards get rather squirley. The loss is very high.
I would not be fearfull of nails in the logs. I have delivered over 5,000 bd ft of logs to the sawyer. I was forece to pay for only two blades plus extra sharpening fees for 5 more. I am still less that $0.50 per bd foot for all of the lumber I”ve had milled.

BTW, every log I’ve had milled has been from ‘Urban Forests’

-- Rustfever, Central California

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3267 days

#8 posted 04-27-2010 04:31 AM

p.s…if your sawyer has a portable mill…then having it cut at the sight would save the cost of getting it moved to the sawyers place…...enjoy this project…grizzman

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View KnifeL's profile


86 posts in 2915 days

#9 posted 04-27-2010 07:49 AM

All good points, though I’d like to note my opinion is on larger thickness to cut down later, as cupping WILL occur. 3 inch is nice if you’re doing something specific otherwise I’d just have them cut it at 2+/-. When I recently had an 16’ urban walnut milled they told me there was a fee for any blade damage from nails, but more importantly they had a maximum log length at 8’. I suggest you google some mills nearby and call them first thing in the morning and ask what specific lengths to cut to. I believe Michael Murphy was getting at this with his question of the first branch. It is ideal to get the longest pieces as clear straight grain (ie no knots/branches) so try to have them cut 8’ (or whatever your mill requests) sections between branches. You should also save the croches (curly/tiger maple) and knots (Low/medium grade birdseye) but especially if the root is good, that will be the densest and fanciest grain in the entire tree.
Finally I agree with both Michael Murphy and Rustfeaver, mill it if at all possible, even if you have to pay for a blade you’ll more than make bank with your lumber cost. And if you can’t have it milled save some chunks and make something, it’s a pity to waste a seventy year old tree to firewood.
Oh and since it’s oak, get it quarter sawn, you waste a bit, but you’ll prefer the results and the wood won’t cup nearly at all.

-- Will in Boulder, CO

View TMcG's profile


191 posts in 2964 days

#10 posted 04-27-2010 11:46 AM

Gents, thanks ! Appreciate the input.

This really is quite a remarkable forum.

I will keep you posted on what the day brings, this’ll be quite the learning experience I imagine !

Anyone know where to get some Anchorseal in middle Connecticut ? :-)


View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2921 days

#11 posted 04-27-2010 06:31 PM

I’m working a little project saving nice hardwoods from the fireplace here in NW Oregon; it’s a shame to me when a nice log gets used to merely heat the home for a few days and is lost forever. The Grizzman has good advise wriiten above. Protect your log and cut it to what you will use. I recommend leaving it thick as well, then planing it down to flat when dry. Rent a metal detector if you have any concerns, it’s cheaper than buying a new blade. Pass the detector over the log before each cut, as they are meant more for “looking” thru dirt than wood. Any good woodworking store will have some sort of sealer, I use Anchorseal but there are several that work just fine. Get this; I was cutting some spalted maple stumps I saved from a burning field (they were “in the way” of replanting fir) and found one with a 1/2 spike I missed. A friend was there buying it as I cut it and liked the spike! He bought both sides to bookmatch the pair so the spike showed twice in the table top. Guess that blade wasn’t “wasted”! Can’t say I’d do it on purpose but the bottom line is that nothing is written in stone. Take some chances, pay a little and you may end up with a lot! Best of luck.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3267 days

#12 posted 04-27-2010 07:45 PM

if you cant get anchorseal…an oil base pain will do will seal really well..yes the other would be ideal, but you want to get it done before it gets milled…i hope this works out, i to would hate to see this tree go to firewood…that’s just wrong if you can get it milled…...good luck…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View chrisstef's profile


17304 posts in 2970 days

#13 posted 04-27-2010 07:55 PM


I also live her in Mid CT and i was looking on craigslist the other day and in the Northwest section of craigslist there was a guy out there seilling sawyer service for under .50 a board foot, he will bring his mill and saw to the house and cut it up. Not sure if its worth it for you or not but check it out and good luck…. BTW must be in the portland middletown area .. we have saturated ground and ive had a few trees fall in my neighborhood as well … best of luck

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View TMcG's profile


191 posts in 2964 days

#14 posted 06-11-2010 11:27 PM

Update on this;

Didn’t really end up getting a substantial amount of the tree unfortunately but I did get enough to make it a worthwhile way-to or way-from job for Dennis from Terrific Timbers and this afternoon he brought his WoodMizer by and milled the logs into boards for me.

It was great ! :-) I thoroughly enjoyed the whole exercise, what a great piece of machinery and now I have a whole bunch of really nicely figured (is that the right term?) red oak that should be fantastic once dried etc..


View TMcG's profile


191 posts in 2964 days

#15 posted 06-12-2010 03:18 PM

btw, and I should have added this to the update, Dennis is a great guy, as suggested by many folks here, a sawyer completely prepared to answer all sorts of questions, be patient and helpful with my total ignorance and generally deliver a great service.


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