That Was A Tree In My Backyard


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Last year about this time, I had a white oak in my backyard that needed to come down. It was experiencing a little rotting, and it was right next to my house. Being a relatively new woodworker, I wondered if I could find somebody to mill the wood for me. Well, after a good bit of research and some phone calls to various people in the north Georgia area, I found a miller and a dryer, and I was able to get about 500 bf of decent quarter sawn white oak for about 300 dollars (not counting the cost to cut down the tree). Now, I can tell people who admire my little side table that last year, that was a tree in my backyard. post-214-0-49002900-1323292418_thumb.jpgpost-214-0-39917800-1323292495_thumb.jpg

I wanted to let people know that it is possible and let people know how I found the people to work with:

  • I asked the people cutting down the tree to leave me about 8ft sections from the bottom four sections of the tree.
  • For milling, I got lucky here. Just down the road from my house there was a guy who had a sign in his yard saying "Rough Sawed Lumber". I called him, and he had a Wood Mizer and was willing to cut it for me for $0.10 a bf. This was a steal based on some other prices I got from others in the area.
  • I called the local hardwood dealers to see if they had a kiln to dry it for me. One did, and he charged me about $250 for drying the whole thing.
  • I don't yet have a planer, so I posted on Craigslist that I would be willing to sell some of the lumber, or trade it for use of a planer. One guy called me. He had two planers, and he and I spent a day planing the stock, for which I gave him 1/3 of the take.

I now have a ton of 1- and 2-in lumber that I love making into pieces to put in my house, because I never get tired of saying, "That was a tree in my backyard."

I also made friends along the way, I have done more business with both the miller and the dryer. In fact, I got 2 4inx10inx8ft pieces of maple (with some "Ambrosia" they call it in GA) the other day for 10 dollars from the guy who milled the stock for me. I don't know what I'm going to do with it yet, but it was too big a deal to pass up.post-214-0-05994300-1323293035_thumb.jpg

I make this post to encourage others to think outside the box when it comes to sourcing your lumber. Although it's a lot easier to pick up the best pieces from the local hardwood dealer, there's a lot of satisfaction to be had and friends to be made finding local people with similar interests.

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Posted · Report post

i have done the same but i havent found any kilns in the area if it was me i would just air dry it and save the 250. my home would have lumber stacker under tables, behind couches , on top of pantries where ever i can find a inch. i actuly prefer air dried over kiln it is more pliable, sandr easer, turns easer, machines smoother with less chip out. but hey that just me mister cheapo :)

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Posted · Report post

Good information to know....I like the nice thick top on the table - good job. My father-in-law was a woodworker and passed away in 1995 BUT he planted a water oak sapling in his yard about 40 years ago. Now it's large but is beginning to show signs of possibly dying. We are contemplating cutting it but I've already claimed it to make things from it - namely a 8-10 foot dining room table for our large family which includes not only our 4 kids, but all their friends that congregate at our house. The oldest son is married with 3 kids so the oak has a lot of historical value to our family so your post is timely and helpful. Thanks!

Tim

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Posted · Report post

Along the same thought lines.....with all the wind damage in the So.Cal. Area I wonder how many trees are down that might have some nice wood...a lot of ornamental exotic stuff planted down there. I wish I lived close enough to benefit!

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Posted · Report post

Downtown Georgetown is full of mature trees, particularly live oaks. I always keep my eyes open for a limb being trimmed. A "limb" is sometimes as large as a normal tree. Right now I know where some sycamore is. Wonder what that's like?

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This thread talks about working with sycamore. If you are getting branches rather than trunk, watch our for "reaction wood". The wood grew resisting the pull of gravity, with the top pulling and the bottom pushing. When you separate the two, you can get some amazing wood movement.

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Harvesting trees is a great way to immortalize it and save its resource from ending in the fireplace. A good friend of mine had to cut down a cherry tree. Most of it got cut up, but he was unable to cut 2 sections each 7 feet long from the lower trunk of the tree. It was just to big for him to handle, and just laid there. After drooling over it for the longest time I found a guy with a chain saw mill that would come in and mill it for me. After 4 grueling hours of work, and a friend with a trailer I now have a great stack of cherry drying.

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