Sweet Gum tree - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 02-20-2008, 09:55 AM Thread Starter
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Sweet Gum tree

A guy I work with just had a huge sweet gum tree fall next to his house. My question is, is sweet gum lumber worth a darn? I looked on the internet and loved the beautiful grain and colors of it but I heard that it has a bad tendency to warp and curl really bad? Has anyone ever milled any sweet gum on here and is it worth all the work or would it be a waste of money? Here's a pic of the monster. The bottom of the base is about 4' from side to side. Any advice or feedback would be greatly appreciated..
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post #2 of 21 Old 02-20-2008, 12:10 PM
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All I know is that it is absolute MURDER to split for firewood. The maul just bounces off. I made the mistake of cutting a big pile of it once for firewood...most of it I ended up splitting by ripping it with the chainsaw!
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post #3 of 21 Old 02-20-2008, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firefighteremt153 View Post
My question is, is sweet gum lumber worth a darn? bad tendency to warp and curl really bad? Has anyone ever milled any sweet gum on here and is it worth all the work or would it be a waste of money?
That does look like a big devil. The lumber is very pretty...but what you read about it wanting to move while drying is right on. I have sawed alot of it, and ruined alot of it trying to dry it when I first started sawmilling. I could not keep it flat when I sawed it 4/4, just couldn't do it . Some of the sawyers down south say they don't have the problems we do here up north, I honestly don't know why that is. Now I have learned to not try to get any wide slabs (they like to cup), and I saw plenty thick. Since I have a mill and can resaw, I saw it 2 1/8" thick and let it air dry and then saw 4/4 (or near than) out of it later.
Another thing about sweet gum is it spalts great. That interlocking grain, Capt. called it "absolute MURDER to split for firewood", looks killer with spalt running through it. I will add a picture later. I think letting it spalt lessons some of the tension too, just from my experience.
I don't think it would be a waste of time to have it milled. It is neat wood, really smooth grain it machines well (makes good turning stock too). And the center is often called red gum. It is 2 trees in one really, the light wood and the dark heart (which is not very big usually, but that is a good sized log)
http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/gum.htm

I'd go for it. Have it sawn at least 5/4 (maybe 6/4) and pile everything you can on top of it to keep it flat. It makes great furniture wood.
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post #4 of 21 Old 02-20-2008, 04:35 PM
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Hmmm

Boy would I love to get some of that lumber to make some goodies out of it... Hmmm... I worked with it one time many many years ago...

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post #5 of 21 Old 02-20-2008, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
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Well i tell you what Duane, you come help me and my buddy put it on a trailer to take it to the mill and we'll be more than happy to give you some of this heavy ars log. I appreciate the info Daren, I think we are gonna give it a go and see what happens. By the way, how long does it take to dry sweet gum (air dry), and how do you let it spalt?

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post #6 of 21 Old 02-20-2008, 05:25 PM
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By the way, how long does it take to dry sweet gum (air dry), and how do you let it spalt?
It will spalt by letting the log lay for a year before you saw it. You may lose a little wood (to rot) but that is a perfect candidate since it is so big. Even some mild discoloration buy letting it lay for several months and not really get to rotting is cool looking, the swirly grain really shows the color well.
4/4" will air dry in a year, probably less in your neck of the woods. Just keep the stickered pile where it can get good air flow. And keep it out of the weather, sweet gum will turn black when it gets wet too much.
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post #7 of 21 Old 02-20-2008, 08:59 PM Thread Starter
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Well seing we don't have a crane to lift this log, it will prob be spalted by the time we get it on the trailer..ha ha. Thanks for all the good advice Daren

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post #8 of 21 Old 02-20-2008, 10:23 PM
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The only thing I know for sure sweetgum is used for here in the south is cross ties for the rail road tracks. I dont know their drying process. but they are very strong when made into ties.

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post #9 of 21 Old 02-21-2008, 12:07 AM
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wow great tip there about tracks... didn't know that!
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post #10 of 21 Old 02-21-2008, 06:36 PM
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Well seing we don't have a crane to lift this log, it will prob be spalted by the time we get it on the trailer
I checked real quick. Assuming it is 4' across like you estimated a 10' section of it will weigh....6321 lbs.
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post #11 of 21 Old 02-21-2008, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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WOW Better eat my weeties.

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post #12 of 21 Old 02-21-2008, 08:20 PM
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geta mule or a horse - they will pull the biggie

maybe a rental horse [?]
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post #13 of 21 Old 02-21-2008, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Handyman View Post
The only thing I know for sure sweetgum is used for here in the south is cross ties for the rail road tracks. I dont know their drying process. but they are very strong when made into ties.
Most RRtie Companies only wanna pay $20 per tie x 25 on a stack pallet=$500.This is what sucks when you figure that

1.That's an awful lotta wood on a RRTie Pallet
2. Resawn that wood is worth so much more!

For one guy there's a lifetime worth of sweetgum lumber in that tree!!!
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post #14 of 21 Old 02-22-2008, 07:31 AM Thread Starter
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Hey Marko, I noticed you're in Shootin Creek, Thats only about an hour and a half away from me and the tree. Wanna take that saw for a sweet gum test drive?

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post #15 of 21 Old 02-22-2008, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firefighteremt153 View Post
Hey Marko, I noticed you're in Shootin Creek, Thats only about an hour and a half away from me and the tree. Wanna take that saw for a sweet gum test drive?
Oh man!!! SweetGum sucks!!! and I'm a glutton for punishment. .I'd love too but you've got some work to do before I get there.I have a 2.5 ft (30")capacity on my mill so you need to cut the tree to cant size and quarter it.Quartering might help some of the tension you guy's spoke of earlier (SweetGum,Maybe not)
Another thing,I'm about 2to2.5 hr's from you coming down HWY515 outta Blue Ridge, but ,and , if ....er and,if ,but short of adding more excuses it would be nice if you could bring the tree alittle closer(all 63?? lbs. of it! .
either way,whatever your plans are don't cut me out yet.PM me!
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post #16 of 21 Old 02-23-2008, 08:12 AM Thread Starter
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Hey Marko, all kidding aside, what are your mill rates. My whole family lives in Murphy NC and are always giving me timber or already milled wood that needs resawn and I always have to bring it down here to get it milled.

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post #17 of 21 Old 02-23-2008, 05:36 PM
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Fire' isnt Murphy close to Robbinsville?
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post #18 of 21 Old 02-24-2008, 12:42 PM
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[quote=firefighteremt153;24217]Hey Marko, all kidding aside, what are your mill rates.

Fire, believe it or not thats as loaded a question as it can be.I prefer to know ahead of time a few things.i.e. type of wood,type of sawing,amount of wood to saw,your place or mine,who suppiles the beer/soda,food and such.I will say this and this will raise some heated debate that I wish not to get involved in.I won't cut by the BF.In some instances this is bad in some it's good.I know and understand the variables involved as far as that goes but I prefer to cut by the hr. + the cost of blades on a predetermined rate.Check your PM's..

Last edited by Marko; 02-24-2008 at 01:33 PM.
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post #19 of 21 Old 08-08-2015, 06:18 PM
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Well seing we don't have a crane to lift this log, it will prob be spalted by the time we get it on the trailer..ha ha. Thanks for all the good advice Daren
I use a cherry picker to lift my logs and back trailer under them. works real good on 24" and smaller logs, little mor difficult on larger logs.
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post #20 of 21 Old 08-08-2015, 07:59 PM
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I heard a story a while back the wood was being sold overseas for making chopsticks. Also heard it's true about the wood movement. It does however do great for turning, the spalting is icing on the cake.

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