Americn Chestnut - any lumberjock seen a live one?

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Forum topic by nashbok posted 05-02-2012 02:03 AM 2231 views 1 time favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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27 posts in 3017 days

05-02-2012 02:03 AM

Topic tags/keywords: chestnut

I just watched an interesting documentary on the American Chestnut tree (embeded below). I was familiar with the story of the chestnut blight but I had no clue how devastating the loss of chestnut trees was to American culture.

I imagine if it were still around chestnut would be the staple hardwood and not red/white oak.

Have any of you ever seen an American Chestnut in the wild?

30 replies so far

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2636 days

#1 posted 05-02-2012 02:25 AM

I had to take down a Chestnut when I lived in Indiana. It was almost 6’ across at the base and solid all the way through.
The state wanted it down because it was encroaching n the right of way for the road.

It broke my heart to cut it down, but my ex FiL slabbed it up into 8/4 and 12/4 pieces and let it dry for at least ten years.

That tree made a whole lot of wood workers very happy and has built quite a bit of furniture so it wasn’t a total loss. Too bad I wasn’t into wood working then.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View derosa's profile


1577 posts in 2984 days

#2 posted 05-02-2012 02:51 AM

I know someone who claims to have 2 of them, haven’t seen them and wouldn’t know them from other forms of chestnut so I don’t know how accurate that really is.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3100 days

#3 posted 05-02-2012 03:07 AM

Thanks for the video. Such a sad state of affairs. Hopefully the smart tree scientists can figure out a good solution to bring them back in full swing.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3629 days

#4 posted 05-02-2012 03:18 AM

I have not seen one, but I did see a documentary on PBS a couple of years ago about the American Chestnut. There are some groups trying to get it to come back. I think the folks were in Wisconsin that were starting to grow them. I have used reclaimed AC on some projects…beautiful wood.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Woodmaster1's profile


1045 posts in 2736 days

#5 posted 05-02-2012 03:48 AM

I had a student make a hutch out of chestnut in my woodworking class 35 years ago. He got the chestnut from his
father, who had it stored in his garage. There was just enough to make the hutch with very little left. I wish we had digital cameras back then so I could have taken a picture of it. Chestnut is a very good looking wood.

View nashbok's profile


27 posts in 3017 days

#6 posted 05-02-2012 04:02 AM

After I watched the video I did some checking around and the University of Tennessee has a hybrid that they’re test planting in a few select national forrests. It’s supposed to look exactly like an American Chestnut. About half of them have survived. Of course, if they do find a fix for the blight, I’ll be an old man before I see any of the lumber.

@Dallas In this day and age, I’m surprised they didn’t just move the road. ;)

@SnowyRiver I’ll have to find that documentary.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15584 posts in 2767 days

#7 posted 05-02-2012 04:10 AM

Great video, thanks for posting. I had no idea… but now I want a chestnut tree. Maybe it’ll survive in southern illinois! :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2504 days

#8 posted 05-02-2012 04:50 AM

Unfortunately I’m not so good at recognizing lumber unless it’s at least rough sawn, don’t think I can even tell you what a poplar tree actually looks like :/ Guess it comes from growing up in the suburbs.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View BenR's profile


340 posts in 2777 days

#9 posted 05-02-2012 04:57 AM

Thank you for the video. I’ve never seen a chestnut, and was unaware of the significance of the chestnut for food or trade. My mother is from south western Virginia. Now I’ll have to ask her if she saw them when she was a kid. Imagine how we would feel is suddenly all the walnut or cherry trees died.

-- Ben in Va

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932 posts in 2504 days

#10 posted 05-02-2012 05:38 AM


Future reference, when/if that tree tries to send up sprouts, make sure they know it’s an endangered species, and that it would be very bad to cut them down…

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View bent's profile


311 posts in 3818 days

#11 posted 05-02-2012 10:21 AM

my parents have one growing in thier yard (west-central indiana). it’s only about 20-30 yrs old, but it gets nuts, and they’re really good.

View WDHLT15's profile


1780 posts in 2625 days

#12 posted 05-02-2012 11:26 AM

I have seen them in the wild a number of times in the Mountains of North Georgia, up to 8” in diameter. However, the blight eventually gets them, so they cannot flourish. In the Chattahoochie National Forest, some of the old down logs that died from the blight 100 years ago still have some sound wood in them.

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

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3386 days

#13 posted 05-02-2012 11:34 AM

I know where one is about a mile from my house. When the blight kills a tree, it doesn’t kill all the root system and shoots sprout from time to time and they grow up to about 6” to 8” in diameter before they are killed back again. The one growing on my friends farm had seeds last year. Chestnut wood’s best feature is it’s rot resistance.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3234 days

#14 posted 05-02-2012 06:52 PM

They do have new varieties of the chestnut tree that are blight resistant and the tree place I deal with
might be getting some in this year. The oak tree I planted 5 years ago is still very healthy, put compared
to the super tree-a cottonwood cross- we planted for shade it does not look like it is growing at all. That
slow growth is what makes the wood so hard, and is one reason not too many people plant them, but
that oak tree should make good shade in another 50 years or so.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

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17683 posts in 3155 days

#15 posted 05-02-2012 07:15 PM

From what ive read there are only 12 mature amercian chestnut trees in North Amercia.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

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