Large Sugar Maple Project - Throw in the towel?? Lots of pics

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Forum topic by Tblood posted 04-20-2015 03:59 PM 2013 views 0 times favorited 39 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 1098 days

04-20-2015 03:59 PM

Hi ladies and gents. I hate to say, it but I’m afraid I’ve reached the point where I’m close to throwing in the towel on a project… Hit a brick wall. I am hoping a little advice, inspiration, and networking from the experienced wood workers here will point me in the right direction!

The project started when I had to take down two sugar maples in front of an old farm house I own and rent out in northeast Ohio. These two trees have a lot of history with my family. The house was built in 1832 and we have diaries mentioning the trees being fully grown before the house was built. Nearly everyone in my family lived in this house at some point. The goal is to cut full length live edge slabs for long tables, counter tops, etc and give them to my family. The tree to be milled is closest to the camera. The other was pretty hollow.

The trees came down late January on short notice and I’ve been scrambling to find someone who can handle the milling… Trouble is the tree is 33-36 inches at the base and closer to 41in about 5-6ft up. It’s a little over 10ft to the crotch. I would love to include the crotch and a little beyond since it looks like some cool grain may be there. After calling dozens of mills and hardwood/lumber stores I have yet to find anyone capable of cutting full length live edge slabs. At least not in Ohio… I have the means to load and haul the tree and am willing to travel a fair distance. 50-80miles? I’ve thought about chainsaw mills but don’t have any experience. Worst part is that my grandpa has an older 28” Wood Mizer mill 100 yards away… Just not big enough!

Knowing we’ve hung things from the tree over the years, I took a metal detector to it and found a few hits. I marked them orange to find again when temps warmed up. I’ve since got the metal out of each mark I found. I have a few new leads on Amish mills in the area but would appreciate any and all info regarding a place that could handle this beast! Please!

My next question is whether or not this log will make all the effort worthwhile…aside from sentimental value. Can anyone tell if there is potential for nice figure or grain patterns? Could I crack this open and find a dud? There are a number of tap points, compression/tension points and small burls from old branches. Hard to tell in the pics but there really isn’t a single flat area on it. What do you think?? It’s over 200yrs old… There has to be something cool, right?

My helper.

Thanks for reading and any help in advance!


39 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4954 posts in 2458 days

#1 posted 04-20-2015 04:47 PM

Around me the mills that can handle a tree that size won’t do “yard” trees because of the metal. Woodmizer guys that do yard trees (at least the one I used) made it clear that a ruined blade was on my dime. OK, that a manageable expense, but multiply that cost by a whole lot when your going to the larger mills. I wish you luck finding a way to slab it, but maybe a backup plan would be to cut cookies from the tree and use them for the keepsake pieces? No opinion of what’s underneath the bark…but I know my favorite maple to use is soft maple, it almost always has more character than hard maple. It’s about as hard as cherry as well on the Janka scale.

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

View Ben322's profile


10 posts in 1100 days

#2 posted 04-20-2015 04:52 PM

I’ll help with inspiration! No way I would throw in the towel.

View Tblood's profile


10 posts in 1098 days

#3 posted 04-20-2015 05:19 PM

Thanks guys. I know what you mean regarding the bigger mills. Seems that most mills large enough to handle a tree this large are more into production. They don’t want to bother with a one-off yard tree. The mills willing to do some custom milling can’t handle a tree this large. The backup plan is a good notion… Just trying to avoid that as much as possible! Most of the trees I have that are this large are still standing. Hate to waste an opportunity with one that had to come down.

I’m not giving up quite yet, Ben! But, the list of options is getting dangerously short.

Assuming I find a mill able to cut it, how concerned should I be regarding their skill as a sawyer? I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth so to speak… But I don’t want to turn it over to someone who is going to wreck it either. Any red flags or bad ideas I should look out for when talking to a sawyer?

Thanks again

View BurlyBob's profile


5403 posts in 2231 days

#4 posted 04-20-2015 05:21 PM

Perhaps you could get it done using an Alaska mill. I’ve seen videos of guys using them with really long bars. It’s a two man job on something that big. It might cost a bit to get the mill and chainsaw, but hey it’s only money!

View rwe2156's profile


2881 posts in 1446 days

#5 posted 04-20-2015 05:27 PM

Ask to see some of his work.
Around, me you’ll never find anyone to saw it they just don’t want to mess with trees from a yard or along a fence line. That’s even if you agree to buy a blade.

The one guy who has a circular saw mill won’t even talk to you.

I think you’re in a bit of a spot not just because of the size.

If you’re lucky you can find an old retired sawyer maybe who can look at the tree and advise you.

I’m not an expert, but looking at it, I’m thinking you’ve got to bust it open some how to see what you’ve got. Maybe with a chainsaw…..

Good luck

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Timberwerks's profile


360 posts in 3126 days

#6 posted 04-20-2015 05:29 PM

I would do it. I’ve milled many large Maples like that with fantastic color & grain inside.


View Timberwerks's profile


360 posts in 3126 days

#7 posted 04-20-2015 05:31 PM

View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 1196 days

#8 posted 04-20-2015 05:34 PM

Take these words of wisdom from a fight fan and avid wood worker: There is no respect for throwing in the towel.

You fight until you are KO’d, your arm is snapped or you are choked unconscious. No Tapping, Pablo! With that attitude you will never get the belt, you will never get a title shot. You will be a mid-tier gate keeper who will be just another hi-lighted, hyperlinked name on who is remembered as “that guy” [Insert: snickers and laughs].

We can not accept this. Back to your 8 week training camp.

Get the gloves on.
—Jab, hook—
Hit the mat
—reversal and you get the choke sunk in—

Warriors do not tap!

Also, Just find out how much the woodmizer blade is and prepare to blow that much. Use a metal detector to make sure there are no surface nails. If there is a chance of steel shot or barbed wire having grown into the tree then all bets are off.

Vegas odds on TBlood are looking much better.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View rwe2156's profile


2881 posts in 1446 days

#9 posted 04-20-2015 06:29 PM

Sir Irb

There’s a lot of sawyers who won’t cut the wood even if you hand them 6 new blades.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View HerbC's profile


1744 posts in 2825 days

#10 posted 04-20-2015 07:03 PM

You might want to check with a member of the site named Logboy. He cut large slabs using a Peterson sawmill. He’s in Wisconsin but might be able to help you.

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

View Ben322's profile


10 posts in 1100 days

#11 posted 04-20-2015 07:08 PM

Sirlb, I think after that post I could saw that tree with a hack saw! Splitting with a chainsaw might be an option then using your 28” sawmill?Your tree has the potential to produce some beautiful slabs. Again I say if there’s a will theres a way!

View Woodendeavor's profile


276 posts in 2572 days

#12 posted 04-20-2015 07:10 PM

There are guys out there. I just took a silver leaf maple from my front yard in and had that slabbed up. We had to cut all 4 sides to get it through the mill but I think it was worth it.

and this is just the butt log

View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 1196 days

#13 posted 04-20-2015 07:46 PM

I have a friend back home in SoMs who saws whatever trees you throw at him. Wood Mizer owners who throw a fit over the possibility of the tree having steel in it (and it is their prerogative to do so) will loose out to those who dont, so says the Market.

You only live once, Gnaw that tree into slabs with your teeth and make something perdy.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 1486 days

#14 posted 04-20-2015 07:52 PM

Wow !! Did you find that dog inside when you cut the tree ?

View rustfever's profile


751 posts in 3275 days

#15 posted 04-20-2015 07:56 PM

Contact Woodmizer factory. Ask for names/address/phone #’s of those mills in your area that have the new, larger bandmill. Interview those sawyers. Ask lots of questions, such as those issues within the replies above. Make a decision. Plan on spending a bit of money. Enjoy forever, the tree with all of the memories.

‘Luv a duh life…Luv a duh wood!

-- Rustfever, Central California

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