I think it's a good thing I have a few close-by neighbors because that is all that prevents me from making a full-size log milling machine for my back yard. I just love milling wood, and I can see why the people who collect logs and mill them, either full time or even just as a part-time job ... love their work. Every log you open up is a mystery until you see what's in it. I always liken it to opening a present ... you never really know what's inside until you open it and everyone is different.
Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/pFF3vhdJ76Y
It's even more fun when you can find special logs that "might" contain special features like figure or spalting, and even if the longs are short, I still get that same thrill ... and the wood is every bit as useful, you just use it for smaller projects, or for feature wood on larger projects ....
The first log I cut into was the one that I collected on my bicycle. I could tell this was a Broad Leaf Maple log, and that it had been down for about 10 years judging by the re-growth of trees in that area. It was not really in a moist area but was in the open and still subject to a lot of rain and snow so I was hoping there would be some spalting in it. As you can see when I opened it up, yes there was a bit of spalting but primarily just around the edges of the log. The interior has some fine color changes that help to make the wood interesting, but not really a spalted log as I had hoped .. but still useful.
The next log was given to me by my brother-in-law Steve and I could easily tell that it was a Red Alder and judging by the swirls in the chainsaw cuts of each end, this was a spalted log, and a beautiful one at that. Many good uses for a log like this from small wood projects to things like door panels, and since I do not have an immediate plan for this log, now that I know what's in it, I am not going to cut any further. Instead, I will leave it to slowly dry and when I decide what to do with it, I will cut it then. Thanks, Steve .. this was a real gem of a log.
The next log was a "mystery log", the little bit of bark it had left on it, and the area where it was when I found it, looked like it could be another log of Big Leaf Maple, but when I cut into it, as you can see, that is not what it is. It is VERY wet wood, but I am inclined to think it's Red Cedar, but it does look like there is spalting in it. Again I have no immediate plans for this wood and it is so wet it is impossible to use, so while the 2 pieces I have dry out ... I can decide how and where I want to use it.
You can also see the top off-cut that I made 2 passes with on the jointer and how much cleaner the wood looks without the bandsaw blade marks.
The last log I cut into was something called Arbutus or Madrona. It is a very hard wood that only grows within a distance of about 2 or 3 miles of the ocean, all along the coast from the southern tip of Alaska down to California. It is a broadleaf tree that keeps it's leaves all winter long but sheds it's bark once a year in the spring and summer. It grows in many different angles and it is hard to find straight wood of any length with this wood and after it is dry, the wood is the worst I have ever seen for bending and moving during cutting. It can be dangerous to cut and one should never cut this wood on a table saw without a splitter or riving knife it is that "active" and in fact, the same should be noted with the Broad Leaf Maple which also very "active" wood once dry.
This particular long had wormholes or wood bug holes in it but they looked quite old, which wouldn't surprise me ... not bug would have the energy to eat this wood once it was dry. It would be like chewing concrete. There are wormholes in it, and they might be used for a feature effect... I'm not sure yet, but in any case, all the pieces once cut and dry will go into my oven at 150 degrees for a couple of hours to make sure anything living of dormant in the wood will be nullified.
I also wanted to quickly check the moisture content of what appeared to be the dries log I had, which was the Maple. A couple of measurements with my (Amazon Link for more info) Wagner Meter told me the moisture content was around 28% or 29% ... WAY to wet to work with, 9% or 10% is what I prefer to work with, so this wood, like the other logs, will have to sit a dry for a time and since I end sealed all of them ...they could take a while to dry. but drying slowly will help to mitigate wood cracking so I will keep my fingers crossed.
Link to Wagner Moisture Meter from Amazon
In the meantime, there are a few local species I don't have so I will continue my search for more downed logs that may have some interesting grain, spalting or other features that will be fun to work with ...
Copyright Colin Knecht