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Author Topic: Advice on saving wood from Ash trees (plus Mexican Mock Orange)  (Read 373 times)

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Offline Chris89

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We've got some very old redwood fencing that's finally being replaced, but two fairly large, roughly 20 year old European Ash trees (either Narrow-Leaf Ash Fraxinus angustifolia or Fraxinus excelsior, though they look very much like the latter otherwise, and the buds are darker brown than I can find pictures for the former, but not 'jet black' as F.excelsior is supposed to be, more of a dark chocolate brown) and wanted to know if it's worth saving the butt logs and possibly crotch wood for carpentry and turning.

Given they came up against fencing, they're not perfectly straight, but I wasn't sure where the line was between marginal use (or firewood) or something worth saving. They're too small to be of much interest to any larger scale mill, but some small scale or DIY shop might be interested. (that and if the trunk is too curved for practical board or stave use, it might have interesting figure for turning)


Along the same fence, there's a pair of quite tall (around 20 feet) Mexican Orange Blossom Trees (we've been calling them mock orange, but they appear to be Choisya ternata) that aren't endangering the fencing, but we're also leaning towards taking down. Mom is on the fence (no pun intended) over trying to keep those, but they'd need heavy pruning at the very least and I'm not sure they'd respond well to being topped or anything of that sort. (I know most trees don't and it's generally a bad practice, and was also just considering leaving the stumps and seeing if root stock came up enough to make shrubs out of, that or possibly leaving several feet of trunk and some of the lower branches and letting it leaf out again from there)

There was some controversy over fire danger of those orange blossom trees being fire hazards, otherwise I'd consider simply thinning them out, pruning them away from the roof, and leaving them at their current height.

It'd be an obscure thing to use for woodworking, but if anyone thinks there's interest in some long sections of Mexican Orange, I'll keep that in mind too. (I'm not sure of the structural properties, but it might make some interesting walking sticks or some sort of turning, or maybe carving)

Removal of the old fence starts on Thursday (June 7) and I believe the tree removal follows that, so I've kind of waited to the last minute for advice here, but any input would be helpful.


On a side-note, there's also some old-growth 4x4 redwood posts and boards in that old fencing (something we failed to take note of when the main portion was removed some years back, sadly) and I'm hoping to scavenge some of that, too. (there's one large section of 2x12 retaining wall that's probably no good where it's in contact with soil, but around 6 feet of it that's just open air on both sides and seems solid ... our fence contractor said it was just trash, but I'm skeptical there, and he also said the ash trees were 'no good' as lumber among a few other things I don't trust him so much on that side of things)

If there's more interest on the old redwood fencing, I could make a thread on that too, though I'm not sure what subforum to post that in.


I've already posed the question for the Mexican Orange trees on a couple arborist forums, but left that stuff in here on the off chance someone has some useful info. (that and if we do take them down, this seems like more the place folks might point at uses for the wood)


I can't upload photos here yet (I believe due to being a first-time poster and new member), but I already posted them here:

Admin Note:  Pics must be in Forestry Forum Gallery.

Though you might only get the thumbnails if you don't have an account there.


Offline TKehl

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Re: Advice on saving wood from Ash trees (plus Mexican Mock Orange)
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2018, 08:34:06 AM »
Diameter of the trunks would be the most useful info to determine if they would be useful.  

Location would be next.  (City and state, not address or anything.)  
Lucas 6-13+slabber, Mr. Sawmill bandmill, orange chainsaws, JD SSL, Case Backhoe, farm tractors, trailers, and 150ish acres of trees.  Fledgling woodshop with CNC router, laser engraver, Woodmaster 712, and a Berlin 108 moulder (project).  Oh, and a lovely (patient) wife and four offbearers.

Offline Chris89

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Re: Advice on saving wood from Ash trees (plus Mexican Mock Orange)
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2018, 05:03:02 AM »

Update: work doesn't actually start still Saturday (the 9th), we've decided to just heavily prune or top the Mock Orange. 

I've decided to scavenge as much of the old redwood as practical, but on the topic of the Ashes:

I'll get some proper measurements with a measuring tape for the girth and calculate the diameter, but I believe the larger of the two is over 20 inches in diameter at the base.

I was mostly wondering if the ashes were worth keeping as logs to give to someone capable of milling it, and what sort of lengths would actually be useful. (our contractor is more keen on firewood lengths, but I can try and talk him out of that or compromise) Aside from that, there's still the question of transportation/access, as this is in a fenced-in back yard with no vehicle access limiting things to whatever could fit on a dolly, wagon, cart, wheelbarrow, etc ... and the added weight of green wood would also be considered; still, I could probably see 6 foot lengths being feasible, or varying lengths aimed at selecting straighter pieces given the bowed/curved trunk of the larger one)

That and the lengths would at least need to be small enough to practically move out of the way during construction. (and just short enough to avoid damage or liability issues when taking them down) Still, the butt-log is closest to the ground and should be the most practical to make the longest.

Oh, and Iím in San Jose, California for anyone who didnít peek at my profile. (at least, I think I made that bit public)

Offline TKehl

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Re: Advice on saving wood from Ash trees (plus Mexican Mock Orange)
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2018, 07:27:50 AM »
Just hold the tape up and ballpark diameter.  It's plenty close enough at this point.

If you are lucky, you might be able to give the Ash away free.  Only way to mill it would be a chainsaw mill or swing mill that can be assembled in your back yard.  It's not worth renting a crane for the wood unless your contractor was already going to do that anyway.

Ideally you want a 8'6" log or longer.

Fun fact #1:  A 6' Ash log averaging 20" diameter would weight 625 Lbs.
Fun fact #2:  The small end of the log is more important for milling as it determines the number of potential boards.
Fun fact #3:  Ash end checks quickly.  If milling, you want to have that lined up ASAP or you would only end up with maybe 4' lumber from a 6' log.  
Lucas 6-13+slabber, Mr. Sawmill bandmill, orange chainsaws, JD SSL, Case Backhoe, farm tractors, trailers, and 150ish acres of trees.  Fledgling woodshop with CNC router, laser engraver, Woodmaster 712, and a Berlin 108 moulder (project).  Oh, and a lovely (patient) wife and four offbearers.

Offline Chris89

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Re: Advice on saving wood from Ash trees (plus Mexican Mock Orange)
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2018, 06:17:42 AM »
I overestimated the girth. The circumference of the larger one turned out to be roughly 46 inches near the base (couldn't get all the way down with it wedged to the fence), which works out to 14.6 inches (or 14 5/8") and the smaller one is 44 inches at the base, or around 14 inches in diameter. They're also not very circular, but actually somewhat squareish, which might throw things off a bit, but might also not be a great indicator for the stability of the wood itself (growing up against a fence may have led to uneven growth rings that might not season well). Still, being out of round means the actual diameter might be a bit less than that calculated.

So that 8 foot length would be closer to 220 pounds, or somewhat less than that. (the larger tree tapers to around 39 inches near the 3 foot mark though I'm not too sure above that, but 39 inches would work out to about 12.4 inches in diameter there)

So they wouldn't be as heavy, but I don't think they'll be working with a crane either, so the lengths are still going to be limited by that. (still, 8 foot logs in the 200 pound range wouldn't be too hard to move out of the way for construction) The smaller tree is much straighter, though, and has the first crotch much higher up, so might be more worth trying to get longer. (albeit that's also closer to the house, but dropping it in a safe direction still shouldn't be difficult with all the limbs removed)

I was also planning on sealing the ends soon after felling in any case. I've got some copper naphthenate varnish that may work well enough for that and would definitely keep insects away. (it's stain the ends green, but that's not going to be useful wood anyway)

I'm not sure if ash seasons better as log or boards, I know some wood works better seasoned after milling (at least if kiln dried) and others season well or better in log form.


I also figured out the gallery system, so here's a bunch of photos.



 

 

 

 

 

 


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