I watched for 3 years as the Red Alder next to the laneway at the back of my property slowly died. I could see it had been hit my machinery going up and down the lane, and too wide for it and hitting my tree. Now it's time to take the poor tree down because it is now a hazard to all those people who walk up and down the lane as I see dead branches on the ground that have fallen off.
Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/4Be8rq4na9E
Anyone who might have got hit by one of these could get seriously injured or worse, so time for the tree to go, but rather than haul it away, I think it will still make some good lumber ...
First of all, I had to hire a tree falling service to take the tree down, but because the lane is narrow there is no way of falling the whole tree at once, it needs to come down in pieces. I asked them to cut it at 6 or 7-foot lengths, that way I could haul the logs away and have them milled. Most of the tree came down fine, but one log that fell off bounced a bit and hit a neighbors fence, you can hear it in the video, lucky for me there was no damage. I initially expected I would have to be making fence repairs too, but all went well.
Some of the logs were so large I could not move them, lucky for me I live between two homes with guys much younger than me and both of them generously tall, large and muscular and had no trouble lifting the logs into the back of my truck ... Thanks, Bill !!
Off to the mill ... and unloading, which is always easier. My friend Peter has a bandsaw mill that is set up as a one-man operation. One of the nicest setups I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He works behind a glassed-in area so can see everything and the mill are about as automated as they can be. He even has a tractor with a front end loader for the larger logs. (nice to have friends like this eh?)
It didn't take us long to load the logs on the mill and start cutting. I couldn't wait to take meter moisture reading so interrupted the first cut to check how straight the log was in the mill and check the moisture of the log with my Wagner Moisture Meter. I have grown to love this moisture meter, it's quick, super accurate, and gives me a good sense of the condition of the wood. Even though the tree was dead, and most of the tree had been dead for 2 years, it still had a moisture content of over 32%, which didn't really surprise me. Logs retain moisture for a long time after they are cut or left standing, especially when the bark is left on.
For more information on the Wagner Moisture Meter at Amazon, Click the link
In about 90 minutes we had the logs milled and loaded in my truck ... now for the fun part, unloading them at home and "Stacking and Stickering" them so that I can impatiently wait for the wood to dry.
* note: the orange paint was a marker to identify the logs, they were left for 2 days before moving and needed to be identified
It will mostly wash off when the time comes or a light sanding if needed.
I asked Peter to mill all of my wood 4/4 and leave the live edge on each side. This way I have the most options for doing what I want with each board. I am guessing it will take 3 months outside for the wood to dry down to around 12% Then another 3 months or so inside to dry down to 9% or 10% and to the point it will be usable. Working with wet wood is the biggest cause of problems so it's important to know the moisture content of your wood and make sure it is the driest you can get it for your area.
The one thing that surprised me the most with this little project was just how much I watched with anticipation of how each board turned out. There is something special about milling logs that were grown on your own property and if you even get a chance to do mill one of your own trees, you too will remember it as one of the more eventful woodworking events in your life.
Copyright Colin Knecht