getting rid of tree sap on tree logs - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 04-21-2018, 06:22 PM Thread Starter
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getting rid of tree sap on tree logs

Hi,

I have some tree logs left behind from the previous owner. I was thinking about turning them into outdoor stool or something, but it has a lot of tree sap on the side where it was cut off, any tips on how to remove them?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 8 Old 04-21-2018, 07:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheTeaRex View Post
Hi,

I have some tree logs left behind from the previous owner. I was thinking about turning them into outdoor stool or something, but it has a lot of tree sap on the side where it was cut off, any tips on how to remove them?

Thanks!
If the sap has hardened you could use a chisel and chip it away. If it's still sticky it's not done yet. You would need to find some way to heat the logs to make the sap run more until it quits. Wet sap could be cleaned off with a solvent such as mineral spirits, turpentine or lacquer thinner. On a log you could use a still paint brush to get it out of the texture of the bark.
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post #3 of 8 Old 04-21-2018, 08:18 PM
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Hello TheTeaRex,

Welcome...

I will take it that since this sap is an issue this must be some kind of Pine tree log sections (aka bolts)...?

The fastest way I deal with this for parks, camps, and landscape projects of this nature are to just recut them with a chainsaw taking off about 1/2" to 1" which makes fast work of getting rid of the sap stain and ooze, plus I get (usually) a flatter and more uniform surface...

If you don't have a chainsaw with a large enough bar, a 4.5" angle grinder with a sanding head and coarse grit sanding pad will also make short work of this task...as will a sharp smoothing plane...

I use a citrus-based solvent to soak the top and then a UV stabilized natural oil, pine Rosine, beeswax finish. The citrus solvent does a very good job of penetrating the wood and thinning out the remaining sap, and the oil finisher I use tends to react well with the sap stopping or greatly mitigating further bleed out of sap unless the tree was really pitchy or just freshly cut...

Good Luck,

j
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post #4 of 8 Old 04-21-2018, 09:51 PM
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In my limited experience with Pine sap ....

Having felled a number of Pines here on the property and in other situations locally, I found Pine sap to be the stickiest substance I have ever encountered. It will stick to flesh, metal, plastic and once you have touched it, there's no turning back. It would clog up any sanding disc or plane bottom instantly. Cutting it off below the bark level or even lower would be the best, but you will still get some of it stuck on your tools. I was "given" some large Pine slabs when a tree was felled recently, but I declined the offer. They would have made great bench seats, but the thought of getting the sap off your jeans was a turn off.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #5 of 8 Old 04-22-2018, 04:26 AM
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If the logs are conifers and if they have "pitch pockets" which hold a tablespoon of sap crap, the logs are firewood.
Those logs could sweat sap on any warm day from now until forever.

Pine sap is easy to get off: You mix it with any sort of vegetable oil, let it sit an hour.
Then, hot soapy water and away it goes. Chem lab trick called "solvent partition".

I had to climb young Douglas-fir trees with bark loaded with fragile blisters of sap.
It would oooooooze out between your fingers.
We washed in cheap vegetable margarine from the local grocery store then
the hot soapy water.
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post #6 of 8 Old 04-22-2018, 05:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robson Valley View Post
If the logs are conifers and if they have "pitch pockets" which hold a tablespoon of sap crap, the logs are firewood...Those logs could sweat sap on any warm day from now until forever...
We called that "lighter wood" down South when I was a younger man, and I'm sure they still do...

If these bolts are pocketed, they are indeed junk and not suitable to build much of anything with...Though that seems to be more common in some conifer species compared to others...

I charge considerably more when I have to do a lot of climbing in Pines that are overtly "pitchy"!!!! It gets all over my ropes, and other rigging to a point of making things tenuous at best...if not downright dangerous...Sticky is an understatement!

I used canola oil and warm soapy water just like you recommended for decades...excellent!!!
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post #7 of 8 Old 04-22-2018, 01:14 PM
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Once that conifer pitch starts to flow, I'm convinced that it will never stop.
Rub fine sand into the muck, scrape it off and the next warm day looks the same.

I tried to copy the log carving style of Giuseppe Penone.
Got a 8' x 8" piece of Hemlock = Tsuga heterophylla (one of the dominant forest trees here.)
Two exhausting days later, I had my adzes and gouges cleaned up. Tossed the log.
Enormous pitch pockets the consistency of pancake syrup. Hit one and the resin squirted out!
No wonder it had been on a debris burn pile.
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post #8 of 8 Old 04-25-2018, 01:11 AM Thread Starter
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Sorry it took so long to reply back, thanks Robson and Jay, I think the canola oil and soapy water did the trick, there is still a bit of stickiness on the top, but I think I can just do one more cycle to get rid of it.
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