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Author Topic: How many cants can I cut from a single tree?  (Read 1153 times)

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Offline customcutter01

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How many cants can I cut from a single tree?
« on: December 31, 2017, 07:40:59 PM »
I'm going to build a log home, I want to get the maximum number of cants from my trees possible.  At first I was going to go with cants 12" deep and 15" wide, cut on 3 sides.  But I'm wondering if that might be wasteful of resources, so I'm thinking of going to 8" deep and maybe 8-10" thick.

Before, I might get 2 or possibly 3 to 4 cants from a tree.  However if I drop down in size, I think I can get possibly as many as 6-7 from a 30" diameter tree.  4 from the first 21 foot section, 2 from the next 21 foot section, and 1-2 from the next 21 foot section.

Any thoughts or suggestion on this approach?  Has anyone tried this?  How will it affect warpage on the bottom 4 cants leaving the heart section out of the cant?

thanks,
Ken

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Offline killamplanes

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Re: How many cants can I cut from a single tree?
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2017, 11:10:19 PM »
Speaking of twist, etc. What specie of tree are we talking about??
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Offline Southside logger

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Re: How many cants can I cut from a single tree?
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2017, 11:30:31 PM »
A big factor will be how close to perfect you want those cants to be. Your butt log will have butt swell and I find in SYP a fair bit of hourglass, especially in longer lengths. That's not accounting for stress, splits, hollows, old massive knots, and other defects.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: How many cants can I cut from a single tree?
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2018, 12:45:46 AM »
There are 2 ways to cut good "beams" from a log. One is to try and centre the pith in the beam, and that's what you would do with a smaller log. Because the pith is in the middle of the beam, the warping as it's cut and dried should balance out on the different sides, and hopefully it stays straight.

The other is to cut them Free Of Heart, where you keep right away from the pith. Now you don't have the misbehaving  juvenile wood in your beam at all, and again the beam hopefully stays straight.

What you want to avoid is "splitting the pith", where you end up with the pith on the edge or corner of a beam.

So cutting 2 or 4 beams from a log may be a problem, as the pith will wander down the edge or corner of every one.  Cutting 3 or 5+ beams may be OK. The middle one can be heart centred, and the others are completely FOH.

Other option if you just want to make 2 is to leave your "waste" around the pith. Saw that into something else, you will want some 2x4s and other assorted trim and cladding boards at some point during the build anyway.

Of course this depends on the species and quality of the log. Some are just cantankerous  >:(
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Offline customcutter01

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Re: How many cants can I cut from a single tree?
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2018, 09:15:49 AM »
Speaking of twist, etc. What specie of tree are we talking about??

I wanted to use mature southern yellow pine.  However on this property, there are very few pines on the property, maybe 200 longleaf pine, hopefully more.  That is why I'm thinking of downsizing the cants and getting more from each tree.  There is also white oak (I would hate to use it, because of food value for the deer), hickory, magnolia, and some other species that I haven't identified yet. 

I'm actually considering contacting local loggers or neighboring properties to see about supplementing the pines that are there already. Once we acquire the property.
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Offline customcutter01

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Re: How many cants can I cut from a single tree?
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2018, 09:23:56 AM »
A big factor will be how close to perfect you want those cants to be. Your butt log will have butt swell and I find in SYP a fair bit of hourglass, especially in longer lengths. That's not accounting for stress, splits, hollows, old massive knots, and other defects.

Thanks, yes I've considered that.  I was thinking I would try to allow to the butt swell by removing it if not needed to get the 3rd 21' log out of the tree.  I've been doing some practice milling at my cousins since I bought the mill and its amazing how much swell is on some logs.  If I can't get the third log then I'll  just mill the but section off on the 4th side as necessary.

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Offline customcutter01

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Re: How many cants can I cut from a single tree?
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2018, 09:40:09 AM »
There are 2 ways to cut good "beams" from a log. One is to try and centre the pith in the beam, and that's what you would do with a smaller log. Because the pith is in the middle of the beam, the warping as it's cut and dried should balance out on the different sides, and hopefully it stays straight.

The other is to cut them Free Of Heart, where you keep right away from the pith. Now you don't have the misbehaving  juvenile wood in your beam at all, and again the beam hopefully stays straight.

What you want to avoid is "splitting the pith", where you end up with the pith on the edge or corner of a beam.

So cutting 2 or 4 beams from a log may be a problem, as the pith will wander down the edge or corner of every one.  Cutting 3 or 5+ beams may be OK. The middle one can be heart centred, and the others are completely FOH.

Other option if you just want to make 2 is to leave your "waste" around the pith. Saw that into something else, you will want some 2x4s and other assorted trim and cladding boards at some point during the build anyway.

Of course this depends on the species and quality of the log. Some are just cantankerous  >:(

Thanks, this is very interesting information.  Yes I plan on cutting so that I have 3 milled edges and 1 normal growth curved edge less the bark.  I would have thought that the heartwood would have been more stable and less likely to curve, but maybe it has more resin, or other factors that cause the warpage. 

Is there a percentage that you figure as being pith, based on diameter.  Is there a percentage of pith that can be left in a beam or cant?   
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Offline Ianab

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Re: How many cants can I cut from a single tree?
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2018, 12:15:58 PM »
The "problem" wood is the first few growth rings around the pith. This was laid down when the tree was just a sapling.  It's since been turned into heartwood, but it's not the same as the later growth ( different cell structure). This causes it to shrink in length as it dries, while regular wood doesnt.  So if one side of you beam shrinks, and the other doesnt, its going to bow for sure. Area affected depends on the species and how fast it grew. Maybe a couple of inches from the pith?
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