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Forum topic by JeffP posted 01-04-2015 01:56 PM 1033 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JeffP

573 posts in 854 days


01-04-2015 01:56 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cherry maple walnut question milling mahogany ash basswood

...well, at least when you view it from the perspective of how slowly a tree grows.

Here’s the context. I’m a newbie woodworker in my early 50’s. I recently acquired about 7 acres in northern North Carolina. It is mostly unmolested woods with a mixture of species. I’m not expert enough (yet) to know if any of my trees are good candidates for eventual milling and woodworking.

Given that my intent is to have this place until they cart me out in a body bag, I’m wondering if there is any practicality at all in planting some specific trees within my woods for the express purpose of milling and using them…someday between now and when I’m too old to use it anymore.

On the surface, it seems likely to me that the time-factor kind of spoils the idea. To be practical, we’re talking about a tree species that can grow and thrive amidst the other trees in my woods well enough to be of a relevant size in say 15 or 20 years or so.

So to the forum, I say please educate me about some of the factors here. Are there some interesting candidates, or should I just forget about it?

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.


17 replies so far

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2409 posts in 2384 days


#1 posted 01-04-2015 02:44 PM

Poplar grows fast as does eastern red cedar. Fruit trees serve two uses. Fruit and wood.

-- "You may have your PHD but I have my GED and my DD 214"

View TravisH's profile

TravisH

452 posts in 1397 days


#2 posted 01-04-2015 03:30 PM

This would be one of those things if you are interested in doing it then do it. I would hope to use some of it but realistically that isn’t going to be the case if we just go by average life expectancy for males, but what do you have to lose, cost of seedlings.

From what i recall you are looking at more like 30 years and up for most desired hardwood species. Poplar being on the low end. I would be more inclined to find some trees on the property now that are worth having milled and and plant after removal or just let nature take its coarse.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4025 posts in 1813 days


#3 posted 01-04-2015 04:20 PM

Another factor is whether the trees you want to plant will thrive under an existing canopy. Most hardwoods like full sunshine to get established, then shade tolerant softwoods grow in the understory and eventually replace the hardwoods, it is called succession. You may need to create openings if the desired species are not shade tolerant. You need to educate yourself about the ecology of your local forests if you want your efforts to be successful.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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johnstoneb

2143 posts in 1635 days


#4 posted 01-04-2015 04:49 PM

You probably need to cruise your acreage take an inventory of what you have size and species. Then selectively cut over time what is there replanting species as you cut. I don’t know how fast hardwood grow but I think it is slower than soft woods Softwoods take about 100 years (this can vary by +- 25 years depending on altitude and climate) to grow from seedling to a marketable product.
You need to come up with a sustainable plan figuring that you won’t harvest anything that you might plant.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

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JoeinGa

7481 posts in 1469 days


#5 posted 01-04-2015 06:52 PM

Any colleges near you? See if they have an Agriculture dept. Someone there will probably know the local conditions for growing tree choices.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

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JeffP

573 posts in 854 days


#6 posted 01-04-2015 07:29 PM

Thanks all.

This discussion caused me to realize yet another, perhaps less obvious practicality issue here.

One of the reasons I would undertake to plant some trees specifically for milling is that I am, at the heart of it…a tree hugger. I simply couldn’t bear to take down any of the larger wonderful trees on this property (oak, hickory, walnut, poplar) just to make some furniture with it. In that regard I am rather like the many people running around who would quickly become vegetarians if they had to slaughter their own food.

I may be able to part with a few of the medium sized ones, but that remains to be seen.

Somehow I started this idea with the notion that if I planted a tree specifically “for the wood”, when the time came I would be able to do the necessary. In reality, by that time I would have grown just as fond of those trees as I am of the many stately trees trees that are already here.

Having thought it through now, I reckon I’m probably better off paying somebody else to grow and harvest wood for me.

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

1882 posts in 1597 days


#7 posted 01-04-2015 07:46 PM

Your existing trees may or may not have any value for the lumber industry. I would start at your county extension office, asking about woodland management or look information at this link.

http://www.ncwoodlands.org/

Need a plan once you learn which trees would bring the best bang for the money now or in the future. Decide if want to harvest trees on land to sell to lumber industry or firewood gathers. Or sell your trees to logging contractor. Lot of benefits and draw backs to consider no matter which way you go!

Pine for (pulp wood market) & Christmas trees will give you a return on investment faster the hardwood trees for the lumber market.

-- Bill

View leafherder's profile

leafherder

897 posts in 1414 days


#8 posted 01-04-2015 08:13 PM

Hi JeffP and welcome to Lumberjocks. Like you I am a newbie woodworker in my early 50s and as you can probably tell from my profile name I am also a tree hugger. Unlike you I do not own 7 acres of forest (only .25 acre suburban lot), but I also plan to stay until they cart me away in a body bag.
My question for you is: How long do you plan to live? That will tell you what kind of trees to plant now to harvest in your lifetime. I have two 25 year old black walnuts that I frequently refer to as my retirement plan – takes about 40 years for them to get large enough to harvest – which means that about the time I am ready to retire they will be suitable for lumber for a nice rocking chair, although my goal is to make it to 100 for the return of Haley’s Comet.
I also have some oaks and maples although no plans to harvest those for lumber – they are my shade trees.
Other trees I currently grow specifically to harvest for woodworking projects are Ash and Mulberry – both grow rather quickly and make beautiful canes/walking sticks (3 to 5 years for a good cane). Yes I get attached to the trees – particularly the ones I bend into the proper shape – but since I am always planting new ones it does not bother me too much when it is time to cut. Also many trees will sprout from the roots if you don’t remove the stump so it is kind of like the same tree.
Depending on the type of wood working you want to do you might also consider some shrubs or ornamentals – lilac, dogwood, rose, holly, boxwood, all have beautiful wood that can be used for inlay/accents/carving and you don’t need to cut down the whole plant.
I hope this helps and best wishes for a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year.
John (the leafherder)

-- Leafherder

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4025 posts in 1813 days


#9 posted 01-04-2015 08:18 PM

You can manage your land responsibly and sustainably and still get wood from it. Wildwood has given you an excellent link. Here is another one from your state Forestry Dept. Sometimes not doing anything isn’t good plan either. It always best to understand your options to maintain your land the way you want it.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View splatman's profile

splatman

558 posts in 861 days


#10 posted 01-04-2015 09:26 PM

I’d say, plant what you like, local ecology permitting. If you don’t get to harvest what you plant, future generations will have something to thank you for.

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JeffP

573 posts in 854 days


#11 posted 01-04-2015 10:46 PM

Plan?

Nobody told me I had to plan that. I thought it just sort of happened?

If I made a plan for that it would likely go about as well as other plans I make so, I might not even have enough time to finish this sent


Hi JeffP and welcome to Lumberjocks. Like you I am a newbie woodworker in my early 50s and as you can probably tell from my profile name I am also a tree hugger. Unlike you I do not own 7 acres of forest (only .25 acre suburban lot), but I also plan to stay until they cart me away in a body bag.

My question for you is: How long do you plan to live? ...
- leafherder

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View JeffP's profile

JeffP

573 posts in 854 days


#12 posted 01-04-2015 10:54 PM

@leafherder…BTW, if you are soon to be needing a cane, I took down a very gnarly old mulberry this weekend.

I’m pretty sure this tree has died at least 3 times in the past. It had the look of one of those old Roman temples where you can only see one corner of it and you have to imagine what it used to look like.

Most of what came down could be grouped into two categories…worthless 3 year old sucker growth, and the most spalted/wormy/gnarled/etc curved remainder of a once 2 foot diameter mulberry stump about 8 feet high but mostly “hollow” (as in just one side of it remaining that is about 3 inches thick). There is about 700 pounds of it left, but maybe nothing usable even for a cane. Wish I knew the best way to “tackle” this thing to have the best chance of getting something pretty out of it.

If I manage to pull a cane-worthy chunk out of that I’ll send it off to you. :)

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View jmartel's profile

jmartel

6565 posts in 1612 days


#13 posted 01-05-2015 02:59 AM

Personally, I’d say pick a couple trees (say one of each of the main species you use), take them down now. Replant 2-3 trees for each you took down. Use the wood from the trees you took down. If they are good sized trees and have decent yield, I would think that wood would last you at least a few years.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View leafherder's profile

leafherder

897 posts in 1414 days


#14 posted 01-05-2015 07:39 PM

Enjoy your Mulberry wood, I have enough to keep me busy for several years. (Tree trimmers for the local Utility Company came through last year – I have about 30 walnut, Ash, Maple, and Mulberry branches on my drying rack waiting to be turned into hand finished canes). I think you will find Mulberry very fun to work – easy to strip the bark off, easy to shape and sand, varnish brings out a beautiful satin-like luster in the grain, and it darkens with age so the piece you make now may look very different in a few years.

You can plan lots of things – based on family health history and proper diet and moderate exercise my life expectancy is about 90, I WANT to stick around as long as possible so my retirement investments are planned accordingly. Part of that plan is growing walnut trees to use for lumber to keep me active with woodworking projects. I actually got the idea in college reading about a local man who retired and bought 40 acres of farmland in a neighboring county and planted it with walnut trees so his children and grandchildren could harvest them for lumber in 40-50 years. Also in college – we learned that Oxford University (or maybe it was Cambridge) had just cut down some 400 year old oak trees for use as roof beams in a restoration project – environmentalists were upset until the University pointed out that the trees had been planted 400 years earlier for that specific purpose – it was in the official records. And as soon as the trees were cut the University planted more so that 400 years in the future they would have the right type of lumber the next time the roof beams needed replacing.

So don’t just plan (plant) for your own use – plan for the future as well. And be optimistic – plant some slow growing oaks and long-lived redwoods. After all you have 7 acres to play with , so have fun!

Enjoy the rest of your week – I look forward to seeing what you make with your treasure trove of wood.

-- Leafherder

View EPJartisan's profile

EPJartisan

1116 posts in 2587 days


#15 posted 01-05-2015 07:48 PM

If you are on the East side of the state and you have empty land area… you should look into planting Black Locust. It grows very fast, produces a lot of flowers (a major honey crop) and is natural to that area… in Missouri they are combatting it as invasive. The wood is rot resistant and is great for decking and tool handles. The tree is shade intolerant, but grows most anyplace… it is now invasive across Europe. IT was used to stabilize soils near mine area because it grows fast and uses tubers roots for it’s main source of nutrient gathering… BUT it does produce toxic chemicals in the roots, leaves, bark, flowers, and seed pods that can kill small animals and children…

Black Locust heralds back to the time when the USA was a tropical rainforest, and shares many characteristics with modern tropical woods. Dense, alternating grain.. lot of crystalized minerals, hard to cuts, hard to steam. But I find it beautiful.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

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