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Hey everyone,

I've been on the forum for a while, but this will be my first post in this section. I'll try to keep it short, but I'm happy to go into more detail if anyone would like.

My in laws live in the middle of South Carolina. Three family homes sit on a total of about 100+ acres. Half of it is old cow pastures while the rest of it is woods. So far, I know that there are some oak trees (I don't know how to differentiate between red or white), some poplar trees (from what my wife's uncle tells me), and of course a bunch of pine (not what I would prefer).

I would like to find a way to properly identify the trees that are out there, so that I can select a few to bring down and eventually turn in to usable lumber. I searched through the forum looking for the best way to identify trees, but didn't have much luck. I googled for a while trying to find some sort of chart, but all I came up with were websites that would determine what it was by playing 20 questions.

Are y'all able to look at a tree and tell right away what it is? I'm trying to find the best way to learn all about this before I go out there. The last thing I want to do is start cutting down trees only to let them go to waste...

Thank for any help you can offer.

Sean
 

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I am a beginner too. I am also a bit of a techie so I found an application for my phone that helped a lot. It is called LEAFSNAP. Pull off a leaf and take a picture and it uploads the picture and checks databases for identification.
It is not perfect but it works well enough that I was able to identify all the trees on my property.
The veteran members here will give you good advice on what to cut. If it were me, I would practice on the easy and least desirable trees, then try the hardwood?
Enjoy yourself. I'm envious...
Gordon in California
 

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Well, I'm not a Techie, so I rely on leaf identification books. There should be some relatively cheap books from your state like 'Trees of SC". They'll usually have at least the basic trees.

This time of the year, at least in my part of the country, oaks retain alot of their leaves. White oaks have wavy or rounded lobes on the leaves and Reds have pointy leaves. You might be able to identify a tree or two in your wood lot now, in case you wanted to get started.
 

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I think leaves are the best way to start identifying trees. Once you identify one study the bark, its color, texture depth of grain, and anything that you can see that will help you find that tree when the leaves are missing. When young I identified trees only by leaves but sometimes that was not going to work. So I started studying the bark, fruit, and anything that will tell me what it is. Call a local Forester and he will be able to help you find the information on trees in your area. I asked the forester that manages my woods about a tree I had no idea what it was, he gave me a nice little aid call FACDEX family field guide Trees 47. By WORKMAN PUBLISHING New York. It is good to have.

I almost forgot. The tree was a Kentucky Coffee tree.
 

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Hey everyone,

I've been on the forum for a while, but this will be my first post in this section. I'll try to keep it short, but I'm happy to go into more detail if anyone would like.

My in laws live in the middle of South Carolina. Three family homes sit on a total of about 100+ acres. Half of it is old cow pastures while the rest of it is woods. So far, I know that there are some oak trees (I don't know how to differentiate between red or white), some poplar trees (from what my wife's uncle tells me), and of course a bunch of pine (not what I would prefer).

I would like to find a way to properly identify the trees that are out there, so that I can select a few to bring down and eventually turn in to usable lumber. I searched through the forum looking for the best way to identify trees, but didn't have much luck. I googled for a while trying to find some sort of chart, but all I came up with were websites that would determine what it was by playing 20 questions.

Are y'all able to look at a tree and tell right away what it is? I'm trying to find the best way to learn all about this before I go out there. The last thing I want to do is start cutting down trees only to let them go to waste...

Thank for any help you can offer.

Sean
I will bet that is you take this problem to your state/county agriculture agent that he (or as assoiate) will walk the trees with you and show you how to identify.

George
 

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Pick up a good tree identifying book.
Audobon Society (sp) makes an excellent one. You will need leaves to firm up your identification.

I'm having problems here too. Up north I could identify nearly anything in the woods. Here I'm dumbfounded and there is a vastly larger species selection of trees. Many I've never even heard the names of before.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all the responses! I downloaded a couple of apps for my phone, but they weren't much help. I also tried the link that landman posted, and got some pretty good answers there. I searched for my state's forestry commission and came across THIS website. It has some very helpful information, especially where each type of tree would be found.

I will continue doing some research, and I will also study up on the tree parts themselves. I'm sure a lot of these websites would be more helpful if I could better answer each question asked.

We are going back up there the weekend before Christmas, so I will do my best to take a few walks through the woods and take some detailed pictures. Now that I know what helps identify each tree, I can take specific pictures and samples to bring back with me.
 

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Oh yea, one really big rule when milling (most) logs. I live saying this, ya gotta cut the pith out of it.
I learned the hard way and ruined a lot of logs.
Glad you are doing research first.
Smart cookie.
 

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Oh yea, one really big rule when milling (most) logs. I live saying this, ya gotta cut the pith out of it.
I learned the hard way and ruined a lot of logs.
Glad you are doing research first.
Smart cookie.
Thanks for the tip, I've been researching this all morning to figure out how to go about that. I know what the pith is, but I'm wondering how much material needs to be removed to consider it being "cut out." It looks like you could just cut a 4/4 board out of the middle of the log, and then cut out the pith leaving you with 2 pieces of quarter sawn wood. Is this correct?

I know that the milling process involves squaring up faces of the log prior to cutting it down the middle. I just want to make sure I remove enough material to stabilize the pieces I plan to use from the log.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you for the links. I actually came across the second one you linked earlier today when I started looking into this.

I can't thank y'all enough for all of the helpful advice! It is proving to be informative not only when it comes to milling a log, but also to understanding wood movement and how to read the grain (something I often struggle with).

I will continue reading up on the subject so if y'all come across any more helpful links, or think of anything else, I'm all ears!
 

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captainawesome,

When I am milling for clients we usually discuss what they plan to use the lumber for and I consider that when planning my milling. If they have a use for thicker planks, say 8/4 for chair arms, legs, turning stock, etc., I may plan to leave that thicker piece to include the pith. Then cut out the pith so that they have two thick, quartersawn pieces.

It is probably one of those 'rules of thumb' but I have heard that the pith includes 12-15 growth rings in hardwoods. For some that may mean an 1" from the center, for other species it may be more. I seldom see logs where the pith could be contained in a 4/4 board. Even if you technically didn't get it all, the more of it you remove, the less likely it will be to influence the drying and shrinking of the piece.

If pith is a concern, it is very important to level the center of the log on the mill in hopes that the pith will travel through as few boards as possible. If the heart of the log is off center, the pith may roam and it is unlikely you can contain it to a single piece. In reality, pith may be a minor consideration when milling logs for figure
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Cut some lumber this weekend

Well, we spent most of the morning on the tractor cleaning up a few areas of the farm, so I didn't get a chance to walk through the woods to see exactly what was out there.

I did however have some time to cut up some pieces of the poplar that was cut down a few months back. The base of the log was already starting to split, but I figured I'd still see what I could do with it. I cut 2 pieces about 36" long and 12" in diameter. I then ripped them a little off center in an attempt to leave the pith on one side to be removed as a whole later on.


I made sure to focus on my stance and how I was holding the saw during the cut. I took it nice and slow making multiple passes so I wouldn't bog down the saw or get kickback.
Second cut.jpg


As you can see, it was pretty difficult to keep the cut straight, and it made a serious mess! You can see some spalting at the end of this piece, and how badly it was starting to crack. I tried to keep my cut line along the worst crack.
end grain.jpg


This is the first piece I ripped, and was the second 36" piece taken from the base. All I had was my wife's uncle's 14" poulan, but it did pretty good. I ended up with 4 pieces that looked like this.
First chainsaw milled.jpg


By the time I unloaded everything last night, it was pretty late and I didn't have time to do anything else with them. I did have time to put the resaw blade on my bandsaw though. Hopefully I'll have time tonight to cut out the pith and square up these logs. I had originally thought about quartering them to keep them from twisting as much as possible. If I do that though, I really won't end up with much useable wood. I may give that a shot with one of the halves that is already cracking really bad.

If anyone has any tips for me, I would be very thankful. This will be my first time doing anything like this, so I'm not too sure what to expect.

Sean
 

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Best way is to just do it and learn from your experience. I believe you'll find that, especially with old logs like the one in your photo, that the pith won't have much effect on the outcome. It is more important to have good drying technique than it is to worry about how close to the pith you cut. If you want to eliminate the effect of the pith, you should be at least six growth rings from it. In general, logs with the pith well centered will give you the least problems. Logs with off-center pith (usually because the tree was leaning) and wood from branches have a lot of stress in them, and are generally not worth milling.

That is a good pile of wood chips. When you get shavings like that, you know that the chain is cutting well. Looks good-- especially for having been cut with such a small saw.
 

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I do tree work in the California coastal range. Here, the red oaks keep their leaves all winter, the white oaks loose all their leaves in winter. Also, when we cut red oak, the wood looks white at first, it turns red when the air gets to it after a few says. I'm not familiar with the trees in your area, so that may not be the case out there. I'm sure the leaves will be you best clue in the summer time. Have fun, be safe, enjoy yourself.
 

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There are several methods to identify trees.
1. Plants of all kinds are properly identified with the appearance and anatomy of the flowers and fruits.
As oaks have female flowers the size of pinheads, that's going to be hard to catch.
2. Leaves, twigs, buds and bark are another group of characteristics but not as reliable.
3. Wood anatomy. Most tree species are as distinct as fingerprints. BUT, there's a "red oak" group of oak species and a "white oak" group of other oak species with wood anatomies so similar it is an eyeball sucking exercise with a microscope and measurements. No more of that nonsense, I'm retired.

Spruce are just as hard to sort out from anatomy. The habit shapes and twig/needle details are what most everyone uses.

Winter ID is the hardest. Time and familiarity = you just get used to what they look like.
If you can't get there, get someone to cut twigs & branches from marked trees for a look, later.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
From logs to lumber!

Well, I've made some progress with the logs I brought home a few weekends ago.

I started by making a quick resaw sled for my little 14" bandsaw and ripped one right down the middle.
First resaw.jpg First bs cut.jpg

After some squaring up on the jointer, I set up a fence to make a couple more cuts leaving me with about a 24" long piece 6"W x 2 1/4" thick.
final bs cut.jpg actual lumber.jpg

I also used some of the off cut thinner pieces to make a wedding cake topper for my wife's cousin (who's dad is the one that let me cut up these logs). They are getting married on the farm where these logs were taken from so I figured it would add some sentimental value if the pieces were made from the same logs. Her fiancee's last name is "Byrd" which is why it is spelled that way. Since the wood was at about 12%MC when I cut these out, I just hope they don't fall apart before the wedding in March!
Love Byrds.jpg


I am leaving the other logs to dry out just a little bit more before I mill them up. I'm also discovering that a 14" bandsaw and a 6" jointer really limit me to the overall size of lumber I can make. Either way, it is a gratifying feeling being able to take a log, and produce a piece of lumber. I appreciate all the help y'all have given me, and once spring rolls around, I'll be able to get a better idea of what is on the property and hopefully get some more free lumber!

Sean
 
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