How to cut this log?

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Forum topic by Nick posted 08-09-2011 10:50 PM 3158 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Nick's profile


87 posts in 2851 days

08-09-2011 10:50 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bandsaw lathe milling question desert ironwood

Okay I came across a guy on craigslist about a week ago who was getting rid of a log of desert ironwood for free. I drove over an hour to go pick it up. The log is about 5’ long and about 18’ in diameter. It wieghts in the area of 350lbs. The core is all hollowed out and the log has many fractures. I know that all i’m going to get out of this is turning blanks and knife scales. My question is how to attack this thing. I have done small logs but nothing of this size and wieght. I was thinking to cut it with the chainsaw into smaller pieces so I can get them on to my bandsaw, but I think this may cause a lot of waste. So is there a better way to do this? Also, what is the best way to cut knife scales, quarter saw, rift cut, what? Any help would be great.

-- Nick, AZ. Wood is a canvas for God's art work, it is our job as woodworkers to figur out the best way to display it.

4 replies so far

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2956 days

#1 posted 08-09-2011 11:18 PM

Wow, that’s quite an odd chunk of wood; I hope it turns out being worth your troubles. I can’t come up with a great answer for you, but I would recommend using that chainsaw to rip down the crotch line to seperate the smallish limb from the main stem, then seek out the biggest areas that are cracked the least and see what you can harvest. I would anticipate the center wood condition to be better than the edges, you may come up with something in there. Cutting along the major cracks means almost no waste, just a mess. Using a small saw will be the easiest. Good luck.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2996 days

#2 posted 08-10-2011 02:47 AM

I would avoid cutting the crotches. There is going to be some pretty grain there.

I would really start splitting it in half lengthwise right through the hollow.

Find someone with a band saw mill.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View BobTheFish's profile


361 posts in 2550 days

#3 posted 08-10-2011 03:30 AM

Well, I never had any experience milling boards either, BUT….

I’d say it looks like the one portion above the crotch (which I agree will give excellent grain, though the whole thing looks like it has some knotholes that might be interesting), is hollow, I’d cut that portion off at the crotch, either just at the end of the hollowed portion, or right where the two limbs actually seem to separate. The grain from the crotch is actually going to be below that, so you’ll want to try and preserve that portion of the whole.

Then I’d advise taking it to your local mill. There’s basically going to be two problems with this: 1. it looks like its already dried or fairly advanced along the drying process, you can see this with the splits. 2. there’s a hell of a lot of knotty bits and the crotch itself might give some additional weirdness to the cutting process (not to mention, you said it’s an ironwood, meaning hard. and any weird grain where it might be knotted or crossed up is going to be harder than straight grain).

What I’m sort of crying over is that it looks like someone decided to chainsaw it already halfway through the main portion of the log. That means, at best, half length boards where you could have had full. And that SUCKS.

View Nick's profile


87 posts in 2851 days

#4 posted 08-10-2011 03:13 PM

Thank you for the ideas. This gives me a better idea of where to start. I think I will take the hollow off just above the crotch and than take my sawall and follow some of the larger fractures down the side. Not sure if this will be more work than I want but I do want to save as much I can. This wood is hard to come by. As far as the saw cut in the middle goes the guy I picked it up from tried to cut in in half and gave up half way through. He also let his kids beat the sides with a hatchet. So it really does suck that he did this.

-- Nick, AZ. Wood is a canvas for God's art work, it is our job as woodworkers to figur out the best way to display it.

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