Once the tree has been cut, the question of what to do with it becomes important. Anyone who enjoys woodworking yearns for more and more wood, and the last thing they want to see is a tree that is cut up and used for cooking or heating. We all know that this is inevitable in some situations, but we still try to rescue some trees for longer uses such as in furniture, turned bowls, carved items, and a variety of other woodworked items.

 The city of Victoria, British Columbia on the west coast of Canada is gifted with many parks, and with older neighborhoods where larger, more mature trees grow. In many cases these are trees that were planted over 100 years ago, so some have reached quite a stature. Along with an area that is blessed with many trees, Victoria must put up with winter wind storms the wreck havoc on many of these trees. It is not unusual for three or four wind storms per winter to topple trees in parks and on private properties. Many of these trees damage buildings and other private property and must be removed for safety reasons. This is where the Vancouver Island Woodworkers Guildsprings into action.

 The VIWG has taken their wood recovery program very seriously. With an active membership in excess of 100 people, this woodworking club has made arrangements with an number of local municipal governments, and with private companies, to acquire trees that are to be cut down. In some cases trees that are at risk or diseases are felled during optimum times so that recovery is planned and orderly. At other times trees are blown down and recovery must be made on the spur of the moment in order to maintain order.

Once the members of the club are notified of a tree that is to be felled, the group makes the decision of how what lengths the tree should be cut into, and how it will be transported to a holding yard. All of this happens
very quickly as the risks of leaving a felled tree could cause safety issues for others if it is not removed quickly.

Once the trees are safely stored in a holding yard arrangements are made to have the trees milled. Experienced sawyers examine the trees and decide on what cuts will need to be made using any one of a variety of milling devices from portable bandsaw mills, to Alaskan Chainsaw mills and even gas driven circular saw mills. The trees are also examined for hardware like screws, nails, wire, and even bullets are found in some of the very old trees. It is pretty hard to avoid these as they are often embedded so deep into the tree they are impossible to detect until the milling begins.

 Depending on the species of tree, and the configuration of the tree the cuts that are made are decided upon based on the grain of the tree and how this can best be optimized. Cuts are made to satisfy turners, furniture makers and others who can make use of special cuts.

Once the tree has been milled, again depending on the species, a decision is made either sell the wood as it is or to dry the wood and sell it at a future date. Once the wood has ready for distribution, the club members purchase portions of the available wood for their own use, while other pieces are donated to local woodworking students. In some cases the profits from the wood that is sold to members of the club is used for bursaries and other woodworking educational projects.

 The project is a win - win. The municipal governments are provided with a means of getting rid of wood they don't want, and in a way that is environmentally friendly, and community oriented. The woodworking club not only has the opportunity of helping woodworking students, it also has the chance of acquiring some specialty woods that it would not otherwise get.

If you woodworking club is not involved in a wood recovery project, it is highly recommended that your start one. Not only do you get the chance to acquire some good wood , often with a small saving, you also get to socialize with other woodworkers, a great way to meet new people, exchanged ideas and share in the joys of woodworking.

Copyright - Colin Knecht
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