LumberJocks

My Yew tree is dying

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by MrsBob posted 07-18-2011 05:24 PM 3144 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MrsBob's profile

MrsBob

26 posts in 1964 days


07-18-2011 05:24 PM

So, I am trying to decide what I want to do with it.
I’ve been reading up on working with yew wood, sounds like hard work, but I would like to do something with my tree other than watch it turn browner by the day? My woodworking skills only recently went from chainsaw and what ever nails I can find, to skill saw and screws! Still can’t cut a straight line, but I’m working on that!
Should I cut it down now, and find some one to mill it for me now? Should I cut it down and let it dry, then have it milled?
I have a stack of rough cut big leaf maple that I hope someday to attempt to build myself a desk out of, would the Yew wood be OK to use for the desk top? Shelves?

Your input and ideas are more than welcome!


19 replies so far

View Barbara Gill's profile

Barbara Gill

153 posts in 2120 days


#1 posted 07-19-2011 01:46 AM

I love to turn Yew. It cuts like butter and finishes up nicely.

-- Barbara

View Manitario's profile

Manitario

2397 posts in 2343 days


#2 posted 07-19-2011 04:27 AM

yep, I think cr1 has it right, make long bows; I believe it is the only accepted use for yew wood.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Barbara Gill's profile

Barbara Gill

153 posts in 2120 days


#3 posted 07-19-2011 12:05 PM

Mrs. Bob, if you decide to cut the tree down and have it milled, do not wait. Logs that are left to “dry” will have a lot of degrade. Where do you live?

-- Barbara

View Bob N's profile

Bob N

131 posts in 3387 days


#4 posted 07-19-2011 01:13 PM

Yew is one of the best woods there is to turn on the lathe and in many cases hard to acquire. Wonderful for things like pens and pepper mills.

View Nomad62's profile

Nomad62

726 posts in 2418 days


#5 posted 07-19-2011 07:10 PM

Yew is a fir tree, very soft and quite beautiful in color. One thing to be careful of is it has a toxin in it, so avoid the dust. Longbow staves from good yew wood are worth $200 or more, you may want to snoop around online. To find out if it is good for staves you will need to split the log lengthwise when you cut it down; I take a piece from the top of the tree where the limbs are as that part is useless for staves. It must split straight; if it curls as it splits it is not good bow wood. If the top splits well, the bottom will as well. Whatever you do I recommend cutting it down in the winter when the sap is low, it will be much nicer wood. By the way, where are you at?

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View MrsBob's profile

MrsBob

26 posts in 1964 days


#6 posted 07-19-2011 08:23 PM

Thank you for the replies! Turning requires more toys! Not really into long bows? I might look into the stave thing, but since it is one of the few Yew trees I was able to save when dad sold a bunch off for Taxol, I’d kinda like to do something with it that I can look at or use. Any idea what it would cost to have it milled?
Oh, I’m in western Washington.

View BobTheFish's profile

BobTheFish

361 posts in 2012 days


#7 posted 07-19-2011 09:53 PM

A dining table or a desk is what first comes to my mind. (actually I was going to say bows as well, but you said you wanted something you’d use, and I doubt you’re the type of person to use a bow. No offense if you are, but bow hunters are not exactly common, and if you were, you’d probably already know about yew’s usage in bows)

Turning is something you are also discounting, and, quite frankly, one of the properties of yew that makes it so great for bows is its natural compression resistance. I don’t see much bending or futzing with the wood into intricate shapes being a good idea.

Yew is also found oftentimes around churches and is a wood with a rich history in celtic/british tradition.

Personally, as a nod to this sort of history, I’d make a simple trestle style table or something equally humble in its design, perhaps with a 1 1/2” thick top and probably about 7-8’ long, using the more figured boards you might yield. (if you do not have enough wood for this, I’d do a contrasting base with yew pins and perhaps walnut or something equally dark yet relatively domestic for the legs and brace) and then possibly a matching bench or two to go with it.

Pacific yew, at least in the pictures I have seen, can have some nice contrasting yellowish to darker caramel brown tones that can really stand out.

After that, I’d use the cutoffs and thinner pieces from ripping to size to make a mirror or two from it (possibly accented with a celtic inlay design on the corners), a few picture frames, and other small pieces.

If you think you’ll have any other pieces after that, consider some outdoor folding style chairs. Pacific yew also has some nice decay resistance and has been used for fenceposts, so some folding chairs will hold up just fine.

If you think you can make these few projects and STILL have some wood (or if you can take some of the wood that can’t be turned into boards, like some burls or such), I’d suggest setting aside some of the pieces for turning. It isn’t going to hurt to hold on to a few blocks, and you never know when you might be able to hand them off to a wood turning friend to make something special for yourself (perhaps in exchange for a block or two), or you might end up starting some wood turning yourself.

Yew is a relatively pricey wood, so I would say make sure you get every scrap of it you can.

Best of luck.

View Nomad62's profile

Nomad62

726 posts in 2418 days


#8 posted 07-19-2011 11:36 PM

I’m in NW Oregon (97054), and have a mill; I would love to help you out. Yew is wonderful and indeed hard to come by, and an opportunity to get some is always welcomed. I generally cut for money, as I have boatloads of logs to saw up ( I do it as a hobby on weekends), but I am also willing to trade for some of the wood… provided I could get some stave material as I love target shooting with bows. Sometimes the limb wood can even work, but rarely. There are a thousand variables here, and no way to answer any of them on a web page; seeing the tree as it stands really helps. I can fell the tree if there is safe room, transport the log, and deliver the wood; you could even come by and watch it being sliced. If this type of thing interests you, please contact me and we can talk more. Brian @kingnomad3@yahoo.com , best of luck whichever way you go.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View MrsBob's profile

MrsBob

26 posts in 1964 days


#9 posted 07-20-2011 01:31 AM

Bob the fish, thank you for the ideas! I ran a couple of small limbs through my table saw!! I could probably do picture frames? I also have a bunch of 12×12 mirrors I’ve been kicking around for years?

Nomad62, so far I am seriously thinking of bringing a mill out here! I have few “EH” cedars that are in the way of a hay field I want to make! There is a big maple in my yard that is slowy dieing and I’ve heard that if I top it, it might make it a few more years? And of course I can always use more lumber! Would really like to reside a few hen houses!! I do enjoy watching mills cut! Worked for a guy years ago loading logs for him! We had a guy out here recently to do some cutting, but he doesn’t have a band saw. I think I read they waste alot?
Oh, my Hubby is a bow hunter! I stick to modern firearm due to shoulder issues.

View Nomad62's profile

Nomad62

726 posts in 2418 days


#10 posted 07-20-2011 06:43 PM

Maple tends to rot from the inside out and very quickly; if it is dying now, then you might as well get it down and get what you can from it before it rots more. Nobody likes to fell a big old tree (they are kind of like friends) but once they have lived their life there isn’t much sense in wasting such a resource as the wonderful wood inside. Topping it will merely allow more moisture to get in it and rot it even faster, so if you are looking forward to using some of its wood I guess I would recommend letting it go this fall after the leaves fall. As far as circular saws wasting wood, it is somewhat true but only to a point; a poor bandsaw sawyer can do worse by using poor blades or workmanship in cutting. Wavy cuts can easily waste more wood; make sure you get someone that knows what they are doing, maybe look to see if you can see some of what they have cut. And I absolutely love bowhunting, but I don’t use homemade bows to do so out of respect of the fact I am not as accurate with them; if I ever do screw up and shoot something (not often, lol) I need to have the confidence in my shot.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View MrsBob's profile

MrsBob

26 posts in 1964 days


#11 posted 07-20-2011 09:32 PM

I know the base of my big maple is bad, but in the summer when we have our 1 or 2 days of sun, we need shade! Is your saw a band saw? Hubby did tell me if I wanted too, we could take my Yew log down to you, but I’m not sure when that could be? IF and when we get the weather, we have fields to hay! And ya know, Sturgeon fishing is still open, then there is the summer run of what ever fish runs in the summer, then there is bow elk season, then there is rifle deer season, then there is the rifle elk season, then there is more bow season, then there is duck season! (I think I got that right?) That puts us into calving season!!!!

View Transition's profile

Transition

339 posts in 2003 days


#12 posted 07-20-2011 09:50 PM

I recently turned a yew pen. Beautiful wood. If your husband is a bow hunter then I think you have your answer!

-- Andrew, Orange County, CA - www.TransitionTurning.com

View Nomad62's profile

Nomad62

726 posts in 2418 days


#13 posted 07-21-2011 12:59 AM

My bandsaw is capable of cutting up to 72” wide; so far I have cut 59”, quite a machine. I am also setting up a small circular saw that I will cut lumber with. I have a 4 ton forklift to maneuver the log, all kinds of tools and stuff to get it done. Guess I never saw, how big is the tree? Lol on the 1 or 2 days of sunshine, we sure haven’t gotten any yet! But it beats the hailstorms and floods our eastern friends need to deal with. I completely understand the scheduling, trust me I go nuts during hunting season! Early season, late season, it’s all the same…get out the camo and go stumbling around the woods acting like I’m gonna sneak up on something like a bigtime hunter, lol. As I had stated earlier this wood sawing thing is a hobby of mine, I do it on weekends when I can. If you want to just let me know when it will work for you and I’ll have the saw all ready to slice that log up into something nice when you come by. Might even get my wife to whoop up some cookies!

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View MrsBob's profile

MrsBob

26 posts in 1964 days


#14 posted 07-21-2011 10:18 PM

Here’s my depressing dying Yew tree. The line acroos the trunk is a 12 inch ruler.

View Nomad62's profile

Nomad62

726 posts in 2418 days


#15 posted 07-21-2011 10:32 PM

You know, you can always rely on the ole black lab to hang out with a friend til the end. Honestly, from the pic it looks like you might get some short boards out of it; the trunk looks twisted, which means the wood will warp and twist as it dries as well. I would guess from my limited experience that you could expect to have some boards about 2-3 foot long to end up working with. The bottom 2 foot or so will only be good for turning. The section which appears to be about 1 1/2 foot on either side of the ruler would maybe provide some short boards. The real question is whether or not you would want to spend the money on slicing it up; I will estimate about $100 worth of cutting time, I really couldn’t use the small boardage myself as a barter. Turners would absolutely love it; you might consider cutting it in sections as thick as the tree is wide, then cutting the rounds in half. You could probably sell them for $15 to $20 each pretty easily. All of this is, of course,is my opinion; I will happily do what I can to get whatever boards there are in it out of it for you.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com