sweet gum trees

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Forum topic by Monte Pittman posted 09-22-2012 12:36 PM 4113 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Monte Pittman

30143 posts in 2576 days

09-22-2012 12:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question sweetgum

Have a possibility of getting some sweetgum trees. How hard are they to convert to useable wood? I’ve heard it’s hard to work with. Also, how hard of wood is it. Doesn’t look very hard.

Thanks for looking

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

11 replies so far

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 2646 days

#1 posted 09-22-2012 01:06 PM

from Google——-best I can do for ya. Good Luck.

Sawing and Drying Sweet Gum – Woodweb › Knowledge Base
Feb 14, 2010 – Sweet Gum is a troublesome wood to work with because of its tendency to twist and move, but the effort can be worth it for some uses. February …

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3541 days

#2 posted 09-22-2012 01:54 PM

read this monte, but i like the heart wood very much, it has a beautiful warm redish tone to it, and i enjoyed it very much…good luck.

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2439 days

#3 posted 09-22-2012 05:21 PM

Red Gum is very very pretty wood….. More so than just gum trees which have that reddish tone to it, thus why on older mahogany furniture they did use Gum for some of the parts caused once stained it blended in very well….. My experience with just what I call regular Gum is some pieces have more grainey,black streaks in it. Maybe it was more sappy then heart? I only worked with it a couple of times and got the wood from a auction. Red Gum like I Grizz mentioned is some very pretty wood, I think a more forgotten wood. After you do some Red Gum I think you will wonder why you never used it before. Just my 2 cents…. free of charge of course….

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View HerbC's profile


1792 posts in 3097 days

#4 posted 09-22-2012 05:28 PM

I’m sure WDHLT15 will be along to comment on the specifics of sweet gum lumber.

I know it is beautiful if you can get a piece to calm down enough to use for a project.

I’ve heard it likes to move and is hard to dry into consistently useful lumber.

-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2439 days

#5 posted 09-22-2012 05:38 PM

a box made by a lumberjock…..

Forgot to add Sweet gum has more of a brownish tint to it vs a reddish. More of a spalded maple look to it..

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View Granddaddy1's profile


182 posts in 2439 days

#6 posted 09-23-2012 02:09 AM

I think you would be disappointed with lumber, but it makes great turning blanks.

-- Ron Wilson - maker of fine firewood!

View WDHLT15's profile


1797 posts in 2714 days

#7 posted 09-23-2012 12:04 PM

Well, I have had some experience with it. It has spiral grain which sets up stresses when you saw flat boards out of it. It is best to quartersaw it, and be sure to stack the best stuff on the bottom of the stack so the less best stuff can provide some weight. The first flatsawn board off each face of the log/cant almost always ends up like a pretzel, so you may as well save yourself some trouble and slab heavy.

I have found it impossible to take a twisted board, joint and plane it flat, then be able to keep it flat. IF the M% changes just a little, it will tend to re-twist. I made a step stool using it, and used some twisted rough sawn boards that I got perfectly flat for the top. Stool was perfect. A few days later, the stool was cattywhompus. The top had re-twisted which pulled one leg out of level, and the stool rocked.

The heartwood is beautiful, streaked and colored with green/brown/red tones. Your best bet is to take the time and diligence to perfectly quartersaw as many boards as possible out of the log, and use straight logs. Logs with sweep are palletwood.

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

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3396 days

#8 posted 09-23-2012 02:50 PM

I have some of the cattywhompus wood (red gum). LOL. Mine is a turning blank, though I will be turning it into small veneers. The figure is very pretty. I have never used gum, however. Looking forward to it!

-- jay,

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3208 days

#9 posted 09-23-2012 05:32 PM

I have a few hundred Sweet Gum several Black Gum trees on 40 acres..
When I built my house in the middle of the woods I had to cut several down.
The Sweet Gum is a pretty wood, looks similar to Red Elm to me.
Twists badly when drying. My dad agreed it was pretty but the only thing it was good for was RR crossties.

Black Gum is not so pretty, lacks the dark heart wood, but has grain that looks like braided hair.
It is used for rollers for moving heavy machinery because it is hard and will not split.
I tried to split some in a 35 ton log splitter and it just crushes into an interwoven pile of fuzz.

I never heard of Red Gum around here in Middle Tennessee, but it’s probably just a regional naming difference.
What I call Sweet Gum has 5 pointed leaves and spiney looking balls that fall off in the fall.
What I call Black Gum has football shaped leaves and berries that look like small black olives that fall off in the fall. I don’t think they are useful for anything except staining what ever they fall on.

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2426 days

#10 posted 10-05-2012 03:44 AM

My understanding is that Sweetgum is what some used to call “satin walnut”. I think it’s supposed to be a fairly good cabinet wood, not great maybe but not bad either.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View IsaacH's profile


128 posts in 2334 days

#11 posted 10-05-2012 10:49 AM

Come to Atlanta, you can get all the sweetgum you want after any major storm.

I dont know about your milling techniques but dont even try to think about splitting it…..the firewood places around here wont even touch it with their big splitting machines! Its great for mallet or any endgrain projects since its fibers are so twisted. Like everyone is saying, you have to watch warpage. Ive dried a few pieces with LOTS of weight on top to hold flat, but I still had to plane the crap out of it to get it flat so cut it thick and stack it high with several hundres pounds on top.

Awesome for turning…it starts becoming translucent around 1/4” thick!!! :-)

-- Isaac- Decatur, GA - "Your woodworking....NOT machining parts for NASA!!!"

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