Getting a cherry tree to saw into lumber

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Forum topic by Lumber2Sawdust posted 09-14-2010 05:59 PM 3335 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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139 posts in 2863 days

09-14-2010 05:59 PM

Later this week I’m supposed to pick up a cherry tree from a guy that posted it on CraigsList. The tree died this spring. It was limbed earlier this year, and he is going to drop the trunk this week. He said it is about 20 ft tall, and 12-14 inches. I want to keep it as long as possible, so I will cut it in half, yielding 2 roughly 10 foot logs.

There is a sawmill that I can take it to for milling into lumber then I will air dry it at home.

I am thinking I will have the logs flat sawn. I don’t have any specific plans for this wood yet (I have to wait for it to dry anyway) but I’m thinking of having some of it milled at 6/4 and 5/4 for a table top, or something. Of course there will be some 4/4 as well.

Does anybody have any recommendations of doing something different, or is this a good approach? This is my first foray into milling lumber from scratch.

I’ve read a number of posts here about air drying lumber and the rule of thumb is 1 year of air drying for each inch of thickness. I live on the front range of Colorado where a “humid” day is 40-50% humidity. Can I expect a shorter drying time here, or do I need to take precautions to prevent the wood from drying too quickly in this climate? I plan to paint the ends of the boards with some latex paint before stacking it.

5 replies so far

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2956 days

#1 posted 09-14-2010 06:31 PM

Just cover it up to protect it from the sun and rain, leaving the ends somewhat open to allow for air movement. Paint the ends about as far up as the wood will be thick, and cut it a little thick as cherry tends to move as it dries. Really important to keep it from bugs, so keep it up off the ground at least 6 inches. The sapwood may be okay, but the heartwood is what will make the difference in the tree; I see cherry trees that look great until I knock em down and find the centers rotted out or full of bugs. Good luck, it sounds like you are on your way to becoming an urban logger like so many of us like to try to be.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

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139 posts in 2863 days

#2 posted 09-23-2010 04:16 AM

This is just an update to my original post. I got the tree, and had a visit to the sawmill today. This is some of the lumber that I got out of it:

fresh-cut cherry boards

There weren’t a lot of options for getting these boards sawn around the Denver area. Luckily, I found TC Woods who are just outside of Boulder. It’s easy to miss the drive to their place, but it is really cool when you get there. They have tens of thousands of board feet of lumber all over the place. They just mill lumber from local trees. It’s a very small shop. Dan was very helpful and very accommodating of whatever I wanted to do. Not having a strong opinion of how it should be cut, we just did a flitch cut.

I ended up with 40-50 bf of 4/4 and 8/4 boards out if it. It’s not exactly prime material, but very nice and I’m excited to put it to use, although I’ll have to wait a while for it to dry.

If you have access to any good trees for lumber on the front range, grab them and take them to TC Woods. It was well worth it.

Plus, my wife and I were able to stop at one of our favorite brew pubs on the way home.

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3646 days

#3 posted 09-23-2010 04:29 AM


-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View TreeBones's profile


1827 posts in 4021 days

#4 posted 09-29-2010 04:41 PM

Great score. Here is a little information on air drying that may help.

-- Ron, Twain Harte, Ca. Portable on site Sawmill Service

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139 posts in 2863 days

#5 posted 09-30-2010 02:55 PM

Thanks for the info TreeBones.

I have the lumber stickered on a shed. It’s not exactly ventilated, but certainly drafty, and I left the door and window open to add some better flow.

I need to get a moisture meter so I can check the MC after a while. Colorado is such a dry climate that I think it may dry fairly quickly. Maybe that’s just newbie optimism though.

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