Woodworking Talk banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just joined up, Howdy woodowrkers!
I have a really big ornamental (bradford) pear tree in my yard that I plan to cut down because of disease. It's 14" in diameter at breast height (dbh) and has two straight sections that are about 8ft long each that I may want to have cut into 1" thick lumber for furniture. I would also like to consider turning some of the wood. The tree is standing and alive. I would love to kill the tree and let it cure standing if that is possible. I live in a wet climate so I assume it would just rot in place. If I cut it, is there a time of year when the tree will be driest? Could I dig around the roots and allow them to air dry via traspiration through the leaves? If I cut it into logs, do I really have to wait one year per inch of diameter for them to dry? I am in touch with a local with a solar wood kiln so I have that option for wood I cut into lumber. Thanks for any knowledge you have on any of my many questions!!
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
7,222 Posts
If you kill the tree standing, it will decay and not dry out.

If you want to harvest the wood, you need to have the tree cut into boards and properly stickered to dry either air dry, or kiln dry.

Drying is a slow process, depends on the thickness of the boards, relative humidity in the drying location, etc.

Consider cutting into 5/4 or thicker boards, just in case you get any warping.

For the pieces you want to be turning stock, they need to be rough turned immediately or sealed until they can be turned at a later date.

A very recent thread on this topic in the forum.

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f6/woohoo-hickory-55380/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you Dave, and I also read the link you referenced. A friend just suggested an entirely different technique used by a gunstock maker. He said if you cut the tree into large logs and sink the logs in a pond for three years it will cure with no checking. He said it also highlights the grain. It would obvioulsy still be wet but perhaps some sap exchange takes place that reduces hygroscopic forces within the cells. I am doing more research on that. Ultimately, I'm searching for a way to keep from having to turn all of this wood now at a time when I have a lot of other projects going. If I can cure whole logs in something less than a lifetime, it would give me material for a new hobby in 3-4 years. Maybe I'm as green as the tree I want to cut down but I have done hours of online research and just wish there was a way to cure this tree in less than 14 years without having to immediately leap into a new hobby with all the associated turning tools. A woodworking friend said to at least wait until leaf drop to cut the tree so I hope to know all known and unknown options by then :>)
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
7,222 Posts
You may as well wait until after fall, so that the sap has stopped rising.

I am not able to comprehend what it means for a log in water to "curing".

I can understand a log submerged in deep water will not decay - if there is not sufficient oxygen for the bacteria. Lots of salvaged lumber these days from deep water such as Lake Superior. It has not decayed, but it will still need to be carefully dried once brought to the surface.

For the moment just cut the logs to length, seal the ends with Anchorseal or latex paint, then store off the ground and ideally covered. If you can send them off to be milled and drier in a kiln, even better.

The challenge with storing these is that insect will get into the bark, some will already be in the bark. The insect damage may reduce yield.

I work with short log sections, perhaps 18in - 24in long. I debark when I get them home and then take into the garage. Typically some insects and some decay mold in areas. I spray with Chlorox to kill the mold.

I am only working with a couple at a time, not the load you will soon have on your hands.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We have a lot of old longleaf pine sinker logs in a nearby river left from logging many years ago. It's a task finding them and raising them out of the sand and muck below the water. I might be able to get some insight searching for how to handle one of those before cutting.

Sometimes it difficult to tell the difference between an opportunity and a mistake.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
281 Posts
I had a neighbor who's redbud fell over in a storm, and he was happy to let me cut it up and run off with it. One side of the tree, though, had died a year before, and it was basically unusable because it had checked like mad as it dried. Probably from the sun on the dead wood. In short, put me down for another vote against killing it and leaving it standing. Sticker and stack is the way to go
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
557 Posts
Cut it down like everyone has said don't leave it standing. I happen to run two solar kilns and love them. They are drying the wood effectively and with no more checking than air drying but I do seal the ends on everything that goes in.

I am turning a lot of Bradford and one log I left in the yard partially shaded for over a year and it not only spalted but was still hard as a rock. You will find a lot of Bradford has a cool quilting in the grain, too.

I cut mine into the lengths I want then cut the pith out, seal the ends before stacking it. I have some air drying (it won't make it before I turn it) and a bunch in both kilns. Good luck with it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks nblasa, looks like there is no doubt I need to cut it live and process it as soon as I cut it. If I found a way to be able to cure a bunch of short logs for turning, I think I would prefer that to making lumber but there also seems to be a general agreement it is pretty much impossible to cure a log.

In a number of places folks have recommended "cutting out the pith" which I take to be the first one or two years of growth in the center of the log. Does that mean discarding the center slice if making lumber or cutting a log in two half sections if turning blocks of wood? I really appreciate the input here. I have worked with wood for many years but more as a carpenter and finisher. Most of the equipment I have is for shaping dimensional lumber. I spent some time researching turning lathes and it looks like loads of fun but, alas, I'm still needing to finish a bunch of cabinet doors and an outdoor stone and mortar project. Now where is my stunt double when I really need him?
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
7,222 Posts
This thread has a good diagram of the pith. Centre 1-2in

The pith has the most rings, so shrinks the most, hence most likely to crack/check.

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f6/interesting-pattern-48113/

You do not cure logs for turning. You seal them to keep in the moisture until you are ready to turn. Can be months or years.

Then you "rough turn" to a larger dimension, thicker walls, etc. then allow this rough shape to air dry. Some weeks/months later you re-mount and turn to final dimension and shape.

The minimum you need to do at the time of felling the tree is to cut to log sections and seal the ends.

Removing the pith can be done, just adds to the work to harvest the felled tree.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ah, good diagram, so most bowls are turned from a half-log section and it's good to know I can seal the ends of logs to keep for possibly several years. I have read that I should try to dig up the stump because it may have some interesting grain patterns for turning.
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
7,222 Posts
I have read that I should try to dig up the stump because it may have some interesting grain patterns for turning.
Trees can have sections with more interesting grain, typically where the grain is running in more than one direction, such as a crotch, or a stump. Not all stumps are worthwhile. Some are just a tangle of roots with no thick solid stump. I was offered a holly stump recently. Just a mess of tangled roots, sad to say.

Other stumps can have a large solid heart which contains some interesting grain. Hard to predict, if your tree stump is worth turning, but it is worth finding out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yes, I believe I have all the answers I need for the moment. I plan to wait until the leaves fall to cut it down. If I were ready with turning tools it seems like the best thing would be to leave it standing and go out out every day with a ladder and cut a chunk off the top and turn it :>)
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top