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Smallest Log Diameter to Yield Lumber

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Forum topic by Beeguy posted 11-12-2011 12:45 AM 1966 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Beeguy

178 posts in 3097 days


11-12-2011 12:45 AM

Hello All,

We were unfortunate enough to be in the path of an early PA snowstorm that dumped a foot of snow on trees that were still full of leaves. Needless to say we had a lot of damage. I have spent the past week and a half cutting up a fair amount of wood. Most of it is going to my neighbor for his stove. But I was wondering what the minimum diameter to realistically yield lumber is.

There is a sawmill two miles from my home where it can be cut and dried, so transport cost in zero. I have some poplar that is 2 ft. which should give some nice boards. But I also have some maple varying from 8 to 14 inches. Since I planted every one of these trees I would like to get something out of them rather than just a lot of work cutting firewood that I can’t use. As the mill will be cutting some wood for me already a few more logs added now would be better than showing up with a small job later. I am just wondering at what point would it be diminishing returns.

Thanks,

-- Ron, Kutztown, PA "The reward is in the journey."


5 replies so far

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muleskinner

880 posts in 1897 days


#1 posted 11-12-2011 03:36 AM

If it’s straight you’ll definitely get boards out of 8 to 14 inch logs. A modern stud mill can cut 2×4’s out of a 5” log.

-- Visualize whirled peas

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WDHLT15

1571 posts in 1936 days


#2 posted 11-14-2011 05:15 AM

Anything log less than 10” on the little end is marginal. I have sawn smaller, but the yield is low, it kills production, and there are relatively few boards that do not contain a high proportion of juvenile wood and pith, which is not good from a lumber quality and stability standpoint. 12” on the little end of the logs is a good minimum to look at in hardwood. 2×4’s are not sawn as studs out of hardwood. Pine is a different beast.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln. hamsleyhardwood.com

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Beeguy

178 posts in 3097 days


#3 posted 11-14-2011 02:58 PM

Thanks for the replies. I think most of what I will be sending will be close to the 12” mark on the small side. And I think most of what is there is probably 12” if I shorten them to about 6’. I think a little of it is sentimental value because as I said, we planted every one of these.

Usually during the summer months on any weekend you can always hear someone cutting their lawn. This weekend all you heard were chainsaws.

-- Ron, Kutztown, PA "The reward is in the journey."

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Nomad62

726 posts in 2418 days


#4 posted 11-14-2011 07:16 PM

The poplar would be great, but it stains easily so the cutting and kiln work would need to be done together and somewhat quickly. The maple will provide plain, basic wood best used for frameworks or the like as it takes some size before it will generate any kind of figure. WDHLT15’s words are good, you need some size to make the effort worth it. Big mills have machines that turn dinky logs into 2×4’s, but that’s beyond what most smaller mills do as the production just isn’t worth the effort. Since plain-jane wood is only a buck or maybe 2 per bf at the stores it’s hard to justify trying to make it yourself for the same cost while adding in your time and labor; but if the sentimental value is high enough it will make fine shelving and whatnot. Best of luck with it.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

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WDHLT15

1571 posts in 1936 days


#5 posted 11-15-2011 06:04 AM

Yes, I agree with Nomad, the sentimental value can make the small logs very much worth it. It all boils down to your objective. You can’t take it with you, so enjoy what you have while you can!

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln. hamsleyhardwood.com

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