Got me some Sassafras

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Forum topic by Jofa posted 09-26-2013 03:57 PM 1751 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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272 posts in 2073 days

09-26-2013 03:57 PM

I work at Home Depot tool rental as a second job at night. A lady and her daughter came in with issues they were having with one of our chainsaws so I swapped it out for her.

Asked her what she was cutting and she said an old Sassafras tree that fell during Hurricane Sandy. Told her that I was into woodworking and she offered to bring me some.

I got a couple of half logs about 2’ long and a few big chunks from what appears to be the base of the tree. First thing I thought of was someone could turn these into nice bowls (because I don’t have a lathe…yet) ;)

The wood is still pretty wet so I have it in the cage where we keep some of the tools but I’ll be bringing it home this weekend.

Really pretty wood and it smells awesome.

Anyone ever work with this species? I know it’s going to be a long while before it dries but I figured I’d ask.

Side note… we got a new lawn tractor in the store and I offered to take apart the shipping crate before sending it to the dumpster. Sure enough the vertical pieces were made of maple and I kept them. They were pretty rough cuts so I did my best “planing” them on my table saw. Got some really nice pieces. Beautiful stuff.

-- Thank you Lord for the passion and ability to make things from your creation.

13 replies so far

View WayneC's profile


13794 posts in 4332 days

#1 posted 09-26-2013 03:59 PM


-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3701 posts in 2487 days

#2 posted 09-26-2013 04:26 PM

Good find on the sassafras. I made a bar out of sassafras for the bar top and cypress for the front and sides. Exercise caution when working with sassafras as it is a direct toxin. It does smell good during milling operations, if you like the way root beer smells. It does mill well—I didn’t have a lot of issues with splintering or tear out, but my experience may be atypical.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5233 posts in 2728 days

#3 posted 09-26-2013 04:54 PM

I’s kind of like working with poplar in terms of hardness. I love the smell while machining it.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3206 days

#4 posted 09-26-2013 05:20 PM

Have sassafras trees all over my woods. A big one just behind the house.
It does smell nice when cutting it.
Have made tea from it; not so good.

Terrible for firewood however.
Will put out a good fire.

If you plan to use some of it for turning (by you or someone else) you need to seal the open end grain.

View dhampton's profile


6 posts in 3343 days

#5 posted 09-26-2013 05:51 PM

A while back I made a house full of sassafras moulding for a customer. It was one of his yard trees that fell during a storm. It smelled great when we first started but before it was completed we could hardly stay in the shop. The smell became really strong and it took forever for the smell to go away. Hope you have better luck!

-- dhampton, Ohio,

View Jofa's profile


272 posts in 2073 days

#6 posted 09-26-2013 06:04 PM

Thanks guys.

Don, beautiful work on that bar!

Fred, thanks. I like working Poplar and I think I may be one of the only guys I know who actually like the way it looks finished clear. Some builders I know just paint it but I dig the variations.

Crank, good advice. It kind of reminds me of hedge apple wood from when I lived in Kansas. Basically it refused to burn.

DH, I know what you mean. The cage at Home Depot is adjacent to the parking lot and I could smell the stuff across the way. I wonder if the guys are cursing me right now. LOL!

-- Thank you Lord for the passion and ability to make things from your creation.

View DocSavage45's profile


8731 posts in 3078 days

#7 posted 09-28-2013 01:34 AM

Nice score on the crates!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4258 posts in 2796 days

#8 posted 09-28-2013 01:41 AM

You lucky dog you.

It is nice to live in an area that has some. I have been wanting to turn a bowl from that for years (3)

Hurry up and buy a lathe. :))


PS – Send me some and I will turn a bowl for you!!!

-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View kepy's profile


293 posts in 2509 days

#9 posted 09-28-2013 02:01 PM

Here in the Ozarks, it grows wild and there are a lot of crafters who make hillbilly crafts from it. I remember as a kid when you could buy sassafras root in the grocery store in the spring as the tea was supposed to thin the blood for summer.

-- Kepy

View mahdee's profile


4041 posts in 2003 days

#10 posted 09-28-2013 02:20 PM

I live in the Ozarks too and sassafras is plenty here. I have about 10 slices about 26” wide and 8’9” long. Currently, working on a small table from the second slice which I will post once finished. Nice wood since it hardly ever warp.


View TravisH's profile


641 posts in 2170 days

#11 posted 09-28-2013 03:51 PM

I have used some off and on for several projects. A guy at work brought me in several large timbers. I haven’t noticed any issues with it burning, but it usually is mixed with oak, cheery, and whatever scraps I am cleaning out of the shop.

View BJODay's profile


527 posts in 2178 days

#12 posted 09-28-2013 07:04 PM

I bought sassafras root at the “hippie store”, er, “health food” store and made root beer. I’m not sure if the root was from the tree or a similar species of herb.


View mahdee's profile


4041 posts in 2003 days

#13 posted 10-16-2013 12:07 AM

Hi guys and gals,
Here is the picture of my first cut sassafas table I promised to post. The rest of the pictures are on my profile/projects.


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