Page 1 of 3 12 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 35 of 72

Thread: What would you do with this tree?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    landlocked in Mt. Solon, VA
    Posts
    740

    Default What would you do with this tree?

    Thursday we had high winds with gusts up to 38-39 mph. This was the result:

    20200410_084311.jpg

    20200410_084348.jpg

    20200410_115155.jpg

    It's an elm, not sure what variety. The tree is about 75 ft. tall and over 3 ft. diameter at the base. It's a big ol' wolf tree, but some of the main branches are a foot in diameter. It did minimal damage on my property, but took out 30-40 feet of the neighbor's fence. It's going to be a beast to move. It is between two fences about 20 feet apart, and the only access for equipment is across my septic drainfield.

    I was lucky. The day before, I was driving the tractor right next to the tree. I was grading and covered up some exposed roots that made it harder to mow that area. I don't think the tractor had anything to do with the tree falling. I had driven over those roots many times without difficulty. The subsoil in the hole is clay, and there is standing water. My conclusion is that wet soft soil allowed the tree to fall.

    What say you, guys? Is there boat building lumber in this tree? There are hardly any straight parts, but it looks to me like there are some grown crooks and knees, and probably a tiller or two. It would be good to do any steam bending soon, before it gets too dry.

    "George Washington as a boy
    was ignorant of the commonest
    accomplishments of youth.
    He could not even lie."

    -- Mark Twain

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Location
    Armada, MI, USA
    Posts
    226

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    The septic field would be the deal breaker for me. I would cut it up for firewood and haul it out with a cart behind my lawn mower (garden tractor). A crushed septic field is a big problem to deal with.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Abbotsford, B.C.
    Posts
    5,299

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    The wood is too good for fire wood.
    basil

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Ronneby, Blekinge, Sweden
    Posts
    1,012

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Elm is good wood for carvings, not too good for boatbuilding I believe.

    /Mats

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    landlocked in Mt. Solon, VA
    Posts
    740

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Here is a discussion elm's use in boatbuilding: http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?212281-Elm-in-boats

    Some of the forumites seem to think highly of it. I think there at least are a couple grown knees and a breasthook, plus a steamed and nicely shaped tiller in this tree.

    I'm going to cut off some pieces and experiment while figuring out how to move the tree.

    Again, I don't have a positive ID of the variety. Other trees on the property are slippery (red) elms and rough leaf elms.

    The problem of the septic field could be mitigated by working in winter when the ground is frozen, or during a drought when the ground is very dry. Damage to the septic system would occur when the soil was soft and wet (like now). There is no little cart here for the riding mower, but I do have a 31 hp. Kubota tractor with front end loader.

    Traditionally elm was used for wagon wheel hubs because of its resistance to splitting. It is not highly regarded as firewood:

    "Elm wood burns like churchyard mold,
    Even the very flames are cold."
    "George Washington as a boy
    was ignorant of the commonest
    accomplishments of youth.
    He could not even lie."

    -- Mark Twain

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    South Puget Sound/summer Eastern carib./winter
    Posts
    18,279

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Springtime...sap is up.
    Boatbuilding trees are best cut down in the fall. 21 of December is best.
    Make medicine from the inner bark ?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Portland, Maine
    Posts
    20,274

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    When a big Elm comes down around here the woodturners usually try to get some. Lots of turners and woodworkers took some of Herbie for future projects: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbie_(tree)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Eastern PA and The Boonies, Maine
    Posts
    188

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Cut the tree into millable pieces.

    The best method I can think of to get them out is to have an ATV or other vehicle with a winch you could position outside the drain field. Strap up each log and pull it out across the drain field with the winch. If the ground is soft, make some rollers and use them to roll the logs as you winch them out.

    You may have to cut 1-2 logs at a time then winch them out to make room.

    I don't think you can do this with really long lengths, but this should work up to around 12' long - unless you have a tank with a big winch Those 3' diameter sections might prove to be interesting too!
    I swear I'm half done.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Conway, MA
    Posts
    5,881

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Not firewood. Won't split and won't burn unless you have a hot fire under it. Makes a good keel if your boat is kept in the water. (I'd like it if you had a straight timber 4" x 9" x 18'. I'd also like it for a 4" sided stem with some compass.) Would be great for knees -- won't split. Good bending stock.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Groove City
    Posts
    9,045

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Though I will say that the bark looks like it, are we sure that it is elm? Most of the big ones were decimated by dutch elm disease. Got any photos of last years fallen leaves, they might provide a basis for identification. Ulmus americana is distinctive in the way that it branches, the trunk splitting into multiples before it branches.

    Steve Martinsen

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    UK. Cornwall, Suffolk.
    Posts
    6,920

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Just a word of caution. I have 30 years of professional tree surgery.

    Fallen trees have unusual tensions in the branches that are not at first apparent. That is to say, tensions and compressions that are sometimes easy to miss, until you release them. If you only get your saw stuck that will be the best outcome, but you will need another to cut it out. Look VERY carefully at the structure, assess what is going on and don't just plough into it; cut gingerly and back off if you see the wood moving significantly or hear any loud cracks. Have someone with you. Be careful about it rolling as you remove the structure it is resting on. Just take your time to understand how it is resting, and what will happen when you start to remove that structure piece by piece.

    I once had 4 saws stuck in a large laurel, one after the other trying to release the first one, cutting from different sides. FOUR!

    I also have a broken knuckle from a long 3" diameter branch that I knew would spring at me, but misjudged the centre of it's radius, so it reached further towards me than I thought it would. I turned the saw upside down so that the underside of the trigger handle would protect me; it shattered the saw handle along with my knuckle. There is serious power stored in that thar wood.

    As to what to do with it? It is a gift! Start at the tips, saw off your firewood...work back until the heartwood starts showing; this is timber (lumber I think you guys call it). Assess what crooks and straight pieces you think are worth keeping, cut the longest lengths you can manage and haul them out. Big 20 somethings love this kind of work, find some.

    Straight bars and cant hooks will help you move large lumps of it, use leverage! Tractor and chains also great, as I'm sure you know. The big trunk will be a PITA, but it will really help to have some wedges to drive in as you make the cuts, so they don't close until the saw is all the way through.

    Then it's on to seasoning... plank into thick (4"-6"), paint the ends and sticker them, stacked one on top of the other.

    I would never burn that! you must have a good three tonnes of premium craft wood there.

    Best of luck!

    Martin.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    landlocked in Mt. Solon, VA
    Posts
    740

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Next time a tree gets blown over, I will arrange for it to happen exactly at the winter solstice

    Great tip about the woodturners, and great history of Herbie (not the VW).

    Only vehicle access to the tree is across the drainfield. I can walk in on the SE side, but the ground is steep and rocky, with lots of vegetation in the way.

    septic permit.jpg

    The Kubota is pretty capable and once the ground dries a bit should not damage anything. Rollers are a good idea.

    I have an attic, sort of an enclosed porch, with a bank of south facing windows. Might be a good solar kiln for small pieces.

    Knees and a tiller are what I'm thinking immediately. I'd like to get some 6/4" x 8" x 16 ft. pieces for skiff keel, etc., but don't know if there is anything long enough and straight enough.
    "George Washington as a boy
    was ignorant of the commonest
    accomplishments of youth.
    He could not even lie."

    -- Mark Twain

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    landlocked in Mt. Solon, VA
    Posts
    740

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    I'm sure it's an elm, not sure what subspecies. We had 3 other large elms; my wife says one was rough leaf elm and two were slippery elm. We had one taken down ($$$) last year next to the house that was rotten and punky all the way through. If we had not removed that tree it would now be in the master bedroom.

    Lupussonic, thanks for your advice about the unpredictable behavior of fallen trees. I've cut enough firewood to know and be cautious. This is bigger than anything I have tackled on my own. Homeowners insurance will not pay, but the adjuster called yesterday and said he would make a referral to a tree service ($$$$). I have had a college student helping with yard work who has worked for a tree service for a couple summers and is pretty level headed. Also I know a guy who knows a guy with a sawmill and equipment for moving big trees.
    "George Washington as a boy
    was ignorant of the commonest
    accomplishments of youth.
    He could not even lie."

    -- Mark Twain

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    St. Helens, Oregon
    Posts
    2,337

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Check with your local bowyers. Some species of elm are highly sought after for bow wood and they usually want smaller diameter chunks...3-4" diameter. Save the bog stuff for turning and timbers. Does elm make decent carved spoons, I wonder?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Hills of Vermont, USA
    Posts
    35,617

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Not firewood (bold mine):

    Beechwood fires are bright and clear
    If the logs are kept a year,
    Chestnut's only good they say,
    If for logs 'tis laid away.
    Make a fire of Elder tree,
    Death within your house will be;
    But ash new or ash old,
    Is fit for a queen with crown of gold

    Birch and fir logs burn too fast
    Blaze up bright and do not last,
    it is by the Irish said
    Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
    Elm wood burns like churchyard mould,
    E'en the very flames are cold
    But ash green or ash brown
    Is fit for a queen with golden crown

    Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
    Fills your eyes and makes you choke,
    Apple wood will scent your room
    Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom
    Oaken logs, if dry and old
    keep away the winter's cold
    But ash wet or ash dry
    a king shall warm his slippers by.

    Lady Celia Congreve

    My personal experience with burning elm backs this up.

    I have used it as wood for furniture (crude - since I made it) - it's a nice brown color & quite strong.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    UK. Cornwall, Suffolk.
    Posts
    6,920

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post

    Elm wood burns like churchyard mould,
    E'en the very flames are cold
    Well, it might damp down some Monterey pine, if you have any.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Salt Spring Island, BC
    Posts
    7,369

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    I have moved some very big logs with a helper by quartering them then using long peevees.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    St. Simon\'s Island, GA, USA
    Posts
    5,848

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    There may be better uses for it than fire wood. Do not denigrate it as fire wood. When we lived in Massachusetts there were winters when I burned nothing but salvaged elm in the fireplace. The heat value is quite good. One man and his sons took down a number of dead elms on my property free! They heated their house with a wood fired hot air furnace in the winter.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    ibeeria
    Posts
    3,447

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    In the 70s at the height of the Dutch elm disaster in southern England I salvaged a huge fallen elm with a bunch of other interested types. Maybe 120ft to the crown, a trunk of 4 or 5 feet. it was hard wood to work in any way and almost impossible with hand tools. Chain saws circular saws, hand power planes, ok but any hand sawing or planing was a nightmare and as mentioned above, the grain goes all over the place and is a baseturd to get a decent finish... possible but not worth the effort. like in the 87 storm in the UK when you had to pay mills to take oak away, the market was glutted, its never been a valuable timber anyway. As firewood it was fine if a couple of years old, but again impossible to split and to cut every piece to burnable chunks you might just have well paid utilities to heat the house, how much it cost in petrol and new chains.
    if you have access to cheap or free milling go for it, but as you already said, some grown knees or stem posts, but much else is the equation between cost and result.
    'C'est la vie' say the old folks it goes to show you never can tell

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Seattle, WA USA
    Posts
    12,759

    Default

    Build an old-school logger's sledge to hump the butts out. Lash one of these on each end of the butt and skid it out. Put enough surface area on the skids and it should distribute the weight enough to protect the septic field (if you have to cross it).



    https://smallfarmersjournal.com/sleds/
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    landlocked in Mt. Solon, VA
    Posts
    740

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Carey View Post
    Build an old-school logger's sledge to hump the butts out. Lash one of these on each end of the butt and skid it out. Put enough surface area on the skids and it should distribute the weight enough to protect the septic field (if you have to cross it).

    Way cool, Nicholas! However, I already have some round fence posts and pieces of old telephone poles that would make good rollers.



    https://smallfarmersjournal.com/sleds/
    The good news is that the insurance adjuster called to say that my policy will pay to move the tree, because it damaged a covered structure (the fence around my yard). Apparently most policies don't. Any expense for milling the wood, of course, is mine. The adjuster made a referral to a tree service, but they are busy at the moment with the trees that fell on people's houses. I have gotten contact information for three guys who have sawmills (Thanks, Draketail!)

    To complicate matters further, the tree fell on the property line fence which belongs to an absentee neighbor. According to the adjuster, moving the parts of the tree on the neighbor's side are his responsibility. This neighbor is incommunicado. He does not answer his local phone. I sent a letter to the local address on Saturday, but no reply so far. An online search yielded three other numbers. Two were not in service, and one was just wrong. This fellow has two other residential addresses plus a business. Tomorrow I will send three letters and will attempt to call the business. So in addition to lumberjacking there is considerable detective work involved in this project.
    "George Washington as a boy
    was ignorant of the commonest
    accomplishments of youth.
    He could not even lie."

    -- Mark Twain

  22. #22
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    UK. Cornwall, Suffolk.
    Posts
    6,920

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    It will take a team of three with one cutter one days hard work to get that tree shifted.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    landlocked in Mt. Solon, VA
    Posts
    740

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    The USFS Forest Products Laboratory offers a free wood identification service. I'm going to send a sample and get a positive ID.

    https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/research/c...dfactsheet.php
    "George Washington as a boy
    was ignorant of the commonest
    accomplishments of youth.
    He could not even lie."

    -- Mark Twain

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    victoria, australia. (1 address now)
    Posts
    62,448

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    I've just dealt with a 60 foot eucalyptus that blew down. Three days with chainsaw, splitter, muncher, still to be stacked. Next winters firewood.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    St. Simon\'s Island, GA, USA
    Posts
    5,848

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    I routinely split American Elm with a sledge hammer and several wedges. It was hard work and I was younger then.

  26. #26
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Hills of Vermont, USA
    Posts
    35,617

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Quote Originally Posted by ahp View Post
    I routinely split American Elm with a sledge hammer and several wedges. It was hard work and I was younger then.
    You're a stronger & more patient man than I!
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Groove City
    Posts
    9,045

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Tough gnarly wood is good for wooden blocks, you have a tall ship's worth at least.
    Steve Martinsen

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Salt Spring Island, BC
    Posts
    7,369

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    I think elm got it's reputation for not being good firewood because the interwoven grain takes longer to dry.

    When I have to split tough stuff I chainsaw it to 1/2 or even 1/3 the usual length. It splits much more easily, it dries faster and the "nuggets", which are split larger in cross section, burn for a long while.

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Hills of Vermont, USA
    Posts
    35,617

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    It burns for quite a while, but doesn't put out much heat. Might be acceptable fall or spring wood, but nothing I'll use in real winter (& I've tried).
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  30. #30
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    UK. Cornwall, Suffolk.
    Posts
    6,920

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Quote Originally Posted by SMARTINSEN View Post
    Tough gnarly wood is good for wooden blocks, you have a tall ship's worth at least.
    These are all elm.

    IMG_20190320_085808_8.jpg

  31. #31
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    1,019

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    The planking of Scilly Gigs is Elm, often the garboards and keels of Cornish boats were elm, I am sitting at a table with a elm moulding around the top, we just bought several curvy elm slabs for frames at a local sawmill. It was watered and the operator told me he would not touch unwatered elm. It is the most underestimated wood in my country and the name Dutch Elm Disease comes from the research done in Wageningen,( in The Netherlands),to the disease: It is not created here. Frank

  32. #32
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    landlocked in Mt. Solon, VA
    Posts
    740

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Finally the hard-to-locate neighbor called me yesterday. He had just gotten the letter I mailed on Saturday. Postal service really is slow because of Covid-19. It took 4 days for the letter to travel around the corner, maybe 1/2 mile.

    Tree guy is coming Tuesday.
    "George Washington as a boy
    was ignorant of the commonest
    accomplishments of youth.
    He could not even lie."

    -- Mark Twain

  33. #33
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    landlocked in Mt. Solon, VA
    Posts
    740

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    Quote Originally Posted by SMARTINSEN View Post
    Tough gnarly wood is good for wooden blocks, you have a tall ship's worth at least.
    Thanks, SMartinsen, great suggestion. Are you still on the MD Eastern Shore?

    I emailed the boat yard manager at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum asking if they were interested in some of the wood; no reply yet.
    "George Washington as a boy
    was ignorant of the commonest
    accomplishments of youth.
    He could not even lie."

    -- Mark Twain

  34. #34
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Groove City
    Posts
    9,045

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    CBMM has been closed to the public for this current nastiness, I do not know about their administrative side of things, but they might be slow. They are building Dove, and presumably will have the need for lots of tackle and rigging. I run across some of these guys upon occasion,and will ask if I have an opportunity, but do not know when that might be.
    Steve Martinsen

  35. #35
    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Location
    San Francisco Bay
    Posts
    11,910

    Default Re: What would you do with this tree?

    You might consider checking out https://woodmizer.com/us/ under "services" in their drop-down menu. They have a listing of local sawyers all over the country who have their portable sawmills. The same is true for Granberg International, which makes the Alaskan chainsaw mills. https://granberg.com/?v=7516fd43adaa Those guys will often happily buck and slab windfalls for a share of the lumber. They can be amazingly creative in moving logs and working around difficult locations. There are lots of ways to deal with your leech field, too. The pros know how to deal with that. (Probably, they would lay steel construction plates on the ground to spread the load of any heavy equipment.) You'd be surprised what a good crane operator can accomplish, too. That wood should probably be worth more than what it would cost to get it out of there, but I wouldn't consider it a do-it-yourself project. The size of that tree demands serious equipment and knowhow.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •