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an oak tree just fell, now what?

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Forum topic by Spikes posted 11-17-2018 07:44 PM 846 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Spikes

96 posts in 244 days


11-17-2018 07:44 PM

Hi,

An oak tree just fell nearby and they are going to chop it up and use it as firewood, but that seems a shame to me, however I’ve no clue what I can or should do with it.

First off, there’s the bug/birds aspect of it, it seems a lot of the trunk is in bad shape, however that may be just the first inch or so and I should not worry about it. But assuming I can get it cut into chunks of say 8’ or so, if the ends show splits or signs of bugs, does it mean it’s no good and I should let it be firewood?

Second, all I got is a chainsaw. I saw some videos and I know there’s jigs you can buy or build to use a chainsaw as a mill, but I’m not sure how viable that is. Does anybody have a pointer to something they tried that works and does not involve spending a lot of money on jigs?

Third, if I get some slabs out of it, is there more to it than what I’ve seen about air drying wood, namely:
1) seal the ends (unclear with what, will simple paint work?)
2) sticker it after making a flat raised base
3) keep it out of the elements

I imagine this is a big topic and there’s many ways to go about it etc, but I’m trying my best being a cheap guy to get some hardwood that I’d probably could never afford :).

thanks all,

Spike

-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.


15 replies so far

View Andybb's profile

Andybb

1489 posts in 802 days


#1 posted 11-17-2018 08:09 PM

A few things to consider before you bite off more oak than you can chew.

An 8’ long log is a heavy piece of timber. How are you going to move it and where are you going to put it both before and after slabbing it? How are you going to get slabs out of it? Maybe look online in your area for someone with a mobile mill. How quickly do they want it out of there? You need a way to flatten/plane the slab after it is stickered and dried. (router plane jig etc.) There are “chainsaw mills” but I don’t really know of any jig that will allow you to cut slabs from an 8’ long log with a regular consumer grade chainsaw.

I think you need to find a way to hire somebody to move and slab it. Figure out what that is gonna cost and decide if it’s worth the investment. Slabs are great and slab tables that are done well will sell for good money but there is a lot that goes into it to make them furniture quality. (Ask me how I know). However, you will have at least a year to figure all of that out waiting for the stickered slabs to dry. As always, plan on your first one being a “prototype”.

Of course this is JMHO. Good luck. Keep us posted on how it goes.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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Spikes

96 posts in 244 days


#2 posted 11-17-2018 09:21 PM

thanks @Andy, all very good questions, some of the links I read before asking highlighted the same challenges re storage and drying. I think I have the outdoor space for it, sort of sheltered area, so I should be good on that front. And there’s a tractor I can borrow so transport should be feasible.

To be honest my biggest concern is wasting my time on wood that’s not worth the trouble. I’ve seen some of the fallen pines over of the years getting chopped up and being full of splits in the middle. I’ve also picked up some larger branches and I could barely get out a 1×2 out of it that hadn’t been completely eaten by bugs.

The milling is a problem tho, and I agree that I may have to hire somebody with a portable mill, which could still be worthwhile considering how much oak sells for. However it goes back to the point above… to pay for milling and then it turns out that most of it it’s been eaten through would really be bad.

and I’ve PM’ed you to “ask you how you know” :)

thanks again

-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

2609 posts in 1586 days


#3 posted 11-17-2018 09:21 PM

What is the diameter? That’ll help determine just much trouble you want to go through. Note that you want to get a chain designed for ripping cuts. Most chain saw blades you’ll find are for cross cuts.

What is your goal for the wood? Slabs or more regular lumber? If it’s not too big a diameter, a band saw can be used to cut boards from the log , though you may have to shorten them to about 3-4’ long to be able to manage them yourself. An 8’ red oak log that is about 12” in diameter will weight nearly 300 lbs. Anything longer and you’ll definitely need infeed and outfeed support or a strong helper at least.

Regarding the bugs…I assume the tree has been dead for a while? The longer it’s been dead, the more beetle larva tunnels you’ll see. Depending upon what you plan to do with it, that may not be a problem. Some of the nicest wood that I’ve ever salvaged was from a dead hickory tree. The ambrosia beetles turned it into some of the most beautiful wood I’ve ever seen. On the other hand, some salvaged pecan had such large beetle holes that I usually have to fill them with colored epoxy or turquoise.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2471 posts in 2333 days


#4 posted 11-17-2018 09:25 PM

Here is good set up but not cheap plus need a saw with 20” bar

https://granberg.com/

https://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200316891_200316891

If shop around can find less expensive options:

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?LH_CAds=&_ex_kw=&_fpos=&_fspt=1&_mPrRngCbx=1&_nkw=chainsaw+lumber+mill&_sacat=&_sadis=&_sop=12&_udhi=&_udlo=&_fosrp=1

Haven’t seen this less expensive set up in years not sure if can find it fits smaller saws.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvmhQk3VWtQ

make your own mill
http://www.backwoodshome.com/make-your-own-lumber-with-a-chainsaw-mill/

You can use your current chain but will dull quickly, tooth angle is different for milling. Extra chains for the saw will make life easier.

https://splitwoodclub.com/the-best-chainsaws-for-milling

Painting the end grain with either oil or latex pain, Greenwood sealer , or Anchor seal.

-- Bill

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Spikes

96 posts in 244 days


#5 posted 11-17-2018 09:46 PM

thanks guys. The trunk is about 1.5-2’ diameter. I’m hoping to be able to get a few slabs to make a nice table top and a bunch of smaller peaces to make some bandsaw boxes and other “little things”, presents for ppl, that kind of thing. I’m pretty sure the tree has been dead for a while, however can’t tell you how long, I admit to be even clueless as how I’d tell that.. lots more to learn. Good to know the larva tunnels are not necessarily a deal breaker, I’ll have to look into the epoxy stuff, watched some video, but seemed expensive and not something I should get into right now with everything else I’ve yet to learn.

@wildwood, thanks for all the links, going through them. I’ve seen some of the granberg stuff in a youtube video a few days ago, looked neat, but yeah, not cheap. The ebay stuff looks interesting, altho that plus the ripping chains etc it’s probably going to add up quickly, need to do the maths, altho this isn’t the first tree falling down around here so it may be worthwhile if I get into that.

thanks,

-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.

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Andybb

1489 posts in 802 days


#6 posted 11-17-2018 10:33 PM

and I ve PM ed you to “ask you how you know” :)

thanks again

- Spikes

Nothing special. It’s just that I thought I wanted to do some slab tables and found that there was a lot of work involved. 2’ wide is smaller than I envisioned. I had to build a router sled to plane it flat and a lot of work went into surfacing it. I did one or two and realized it was a better use of my time and money to take the slab to the local lumber dealer who has a 5’ wide planer and drum sander and paying them $100 to sand and plane. In and out in less time than it takes me to set up the router plane since I use my garage as a shop. I don’t have the luxury of keeping that assembled if I want to stay married another 35 years. Flattening with a router plane is a full 1 or 2 days work as is sanding, not to mention filling holes with epoxy etc. Then there is crack repair and stabilization with things like butterflies etc. I do a poor job of cutting those freehand so I had to buy an inlay template kit for my router. Your mileage may vary but I work a 60 hr a week day job so there were times when it took me 3 weeks to get it flat and sanded. Kinda like hiring somebody to slab it for you vs. investing in a porta-mill. Then there is what ever leg system you are going to build or buy. Are you gonna spray the final finish? Does it need penetrating epoxy because the wood is a little punky? etc… If you want a table larger than a foot or two then you’re gonna have to bookmatch and joint for a really nice look. Lotta work. Fun, but a lot of work. You’ll learn a lot.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Fresch's profile

Fresch

359 posts in 2119 days


#7 posted 11-18-2018 12:01 AM

2’ log you should have around 80cc saw so $1000, it is heavy work that will kill a saw if you don’t keep a sharp chain.

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2471 posts in 2333 days


#8 posted 11-18-2018 01:03 PM

Too much dust as cross cut thru insect damage not good. Insects invite mold and staining while can bleach out mold maybe not staining.

Most people associate spalted wood with tress on the ground due to insect damage can also occur in standing trees. How much spalting can be a blessing or curse. A blessing would be highly figured wood still workable & gluing and will hold screws. The curse is wood crumbles while trying to work it.

Little spalting in sap wood not extending into heart wood good sign.
http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/oak,%20misc/oak,%20misc%20end%20grain%20with%20spalting%20s50%20web.jpg

Starts to get little iffy!
https://www.northernspalting.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/21925_4099081757279_470639051_n.jpg

Wood in trees can be very iffy might find unusable wood and few inches further down the log you hit the bonanza. Even with several cross cuts may find don’t even have good fire wood. My way of saying few cross cuts thru the log may save you lot of time and money.

-- Bill

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

2609 posts in 1586 days


#9 posted 11-18-2018 05:59 PM

One more thought…A tree that large that is dead, for who knows how long, is also likely to have serious heart rot so might not be able to get a large enough slab to make it usable.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Spikes's profile

Spikes

96 posts in 244 days


#10 posted 11-21-2018 04:59 AM

Ok, I’ve taken some pictures to see what you guys think… the more I look at some sections that have been cut, the more I doubt it’s worth the trouble. However part of my issue is that most of the trees I’ve seen cut down showed similar signs and I can’t tell if I’ve just seen only bad trees or there’s something else going on I don’t understand.

Here’s some pics, what do you think, are those splits likely to go all the way through?

The log section shows the same splits on both sides (only one pictured)

This is the entire tree, the main trunk is actually much wider than I originally thought, close to 3ft and a half.

can anybody point me to some book or something on understanding trees and how to tell when one is worth milling? is there such a thing?

thanks

-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2471 posts in 2333 days


#11 posted 11-21-2018 08:36 PM

This a free book online that consist of many chapters, for harvesting your own wood for woodworking. By scanning different chapters should give a better understanding trees. Better to go chapters than interest you most and not get hung up on too much technical stuff.

https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/products/publications/several_pubs.php?grouping_id=100&header_id=p

When a tree is cut down or falls down it starts losing moisture content from the end twelve times faster from end of that tree than sides thus causing an in-balance thus end checking or splitting. That’s what your pictures show. How far checking and spitting goes along the tree is anyone guess!

Lot depends upon where you live time of year, weather, temperature, relative humidity. In order to slow down drying end sealing essential but not always a set it and forget it proposition.

Looking at the first picture lumbermen would not try to harvest it for use able lumber but a woodturner would.

-- Bill

View HokieKen's profile (online now)

HokieKen

7048 posts in 1337 days


#12 posted 11-21-2018 09:47 PM

I have a chainsaw mill and a beefy saw with a 36” bar for slabbing logs. Even already being set up for being able to do so, I have left many oaks laying where they fell or helped someone cut them up for firewood. Why? Because oak is cheap and plentiful around here. Last time I bought KD furniture grade White Oak for a project, I think I paid about $2/bf. Quartersawn runs a little higher but not much.

So IMO, Oak isn’t worth the effort involved in slabbing it, hauling it, stickering it and storing it. Walnut? Yessir! Cherry? Possibly… But Oak, Pine, Poplar or Cedar? Not worth the effort IMHO.

Good luck with it if you do decide to tackle it though!

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View MrUnix's profile (online now)

MrUnix

7038 posts in 2397 days


#13 posted 11-21-2018 10:04 PM

Chop it up into turning blanks, small blocks for stuff like bandsaw boxes, and other smallish slabs that you can later machine for various projects… pretty easy to do with the chainsaw and much easier to haul. I have nothing but Oak around me, and I certainly would not want to slab up a green 8 foot trunk that diameter, let alone try to move it around (even though I do have a tractor).

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View tomsteve's profile

tomsteve

874 posts in 1417 days


#14 posted 11-22-2018 07:14 PM

what you have there could be caused by 2 things.
1- from how the tree grew. growing with a lean can cause shake/crack.
2- when it was felled. improper felling techniques can cause the tree to hit the ground in a way for it to split/crack the length of it

View Spikes's profile

Spikes

96 posts in 244 days


#15 posted 11-23-2018 05:03 AM

thank you so much as usual for the great feedback, it all makes a lot of sense. @Wildwood, that guide looks awesome, seems like “Understanding wood” on steroid, looks like I could have saved the money altho I like to read in paper form. Will dig in over the holidays.

Based on feedback and the general sentiment I already had, I’ll chop some blanks for when I’m buying a lathe. The trunk is pretty massive however so I’m gonna try take a larger chunk to play around with a possible small round table with a live edge of sort.

thanks all and happy thanksgiving to those who are into it.

-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.

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