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Author Topic: Sweet Gum for lumber  (Read 13827 times)

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Offline Papa Dave

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Sweet Gum for lumber
« on: October 18, 2001, 10:50:20 AM »
Hey Everyone: I am new to this forum (Tom invited me)and appreciate the opportunity to chat with you.  I have been woodworking for about 30 or so years, but just recently built my own bandsaw mill.  I am just now at the  point to start using it as mostly a hobby. ;)

A friend ( he may not be a real good friend) of mine asked me if sweet gum is good for anything.  He wants to build a bridge for his farm and thought it might work for decking,  He has crossties for the timbers.

I would appreciate your ideas. 8)

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Sweet Gum for lumber
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2001, 03:30:54 PM »
Welcome to the forum.  You should be able to find an answer to any question here.  If not, then we'll just give you our opinion.

Sweetgum has a low durability rating.  That means it will rot pretty quick.  

Woodlife or some other product may extend it a few years, but I'd opt for a better type of decking.  Preferred species in my area is white oak.  

Since you are to the south of me, here are the hardwoods with high rot resistance ratings:  black locust, osage orange, catalpa, live oak, sassafras, black cherry and walnut.

Most any wood will work farily well if kept dry, and clean.  That's usually pretty hard to do on a farm bridge.

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Offline Kevin

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Re: Sweet Gum for lumber
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2001, 04:58:06 PM »
This is all I could find on it for now but I`ll keep looking.

Although its medium quality wood is used to make furniture, it is primarily used for
landscaping purposes.


Offline Don P

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Re: Sweet Gum for lumber
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2001, 05:13:28 PM »
 I was under the same understanding as to low durability, Is it treated in landscaping use?
Sass is quite durable but I wouldn't use it for decking, what I've seen is pretty weak and breaks brashy. I wonder what kind of siding it would make, it is beautiful wood.
I use locust for all those outdoor high strength jobs.

Dave, have you got a pic of your mill? We had a fellow stop by the job this week and as we got to talking he said he has a 18something or other resaw that he's trying to make a hobby mill out of.

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An artist uses his brain, his hands, and his heart

Offline RavioliKid

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Re: Sweet Gum for lumber
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2001, 08:10:56 PM »
Papa Dave,

The house I grew up in had the most beautiful woodwork inside, and I believe that it was done in sweet gum.

Now, I don't know that for a fact, but it might be worth looking into.

;)
RavioliKid

Offline Tom

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Re: Sweet Gum for lumber
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2001, 08:29:28 PM »
I saw sweet gum for backyard cabinet makers here who create some of the most beautiful door panels, stools and floors you have ever seen from it.  The bowl turners like it for its interesting figure and resistance to splitting, although it is difficult to dry straight.

If you have a lot of money to buy it from the store, Red Gum is sweet gum heartwood and White Gum is sweet gum Sapwood.  8)

It is seldom if ever used for construction.  I sawed a lot of it that went into a chicken house one time, but those farmers will use anything that they don't have to buy.  One day someone will find a bananza of  pretty wood in old Chicken Houses. :D

For outdoor construction it is hard to beat Southern Yellow Pine, treated to .15 or .20 above ground and .40 for ground contact.
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Offline Don P

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Re: Sweet Gum for lumber
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2001, 09:21:07 PM »
Neat, I had always figured the mysterious red gum was a tree I hadn't come across ::) should have looked closer at the lumber names list.

On treated lumber, be careful if using it on an inspected structure. You need to check with the local building inspector prior to using just what the required retention is. We had already built an attached porch in upstate NY when the inspector asked for proof that I had used .60 treated wood in the ground contact posts. Problem was, the tags were all 4' underground. I put in a frantic call to the building supply. They knew the inside scoop and faxed a copy of the purchase order to the building dept.showing they had filled the order with approved materials. Saved my rear!  We have used as high as 1.25...yes, 1-1/4 times the weight of water, in marine situations.
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Sweet Gum for lumber
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2001, 10:49:08 AM »
Here's what my wood tech book has to say about sweet gum.  It's 40 years old, so it may be outdated.

Sweetgum is unique among American hardwoods.  The heartwood is also known as hazelwood in the trade, and the sapwood is sap-gum.  In England it is known as hazel pine.

Figured sweetgum resembles Circassian walnut and is often marketed a\abriad as satin walnut.  The pigment feature is best shown in flat-sawn lumber and in rotary-cut veneer.  A handsome ribbon stripe is obtained by quartering interlocked-grain stock.

A considerable quanity of redgum lumber is normally shipped abroad to England, France and Germany, where it is manufactured into furniture.  Some is sold in the US as satin walnut.
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Offline Kevin_H.

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Re: Sweet Gum for lumber
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2001, 10:05:46 PM »
Just as a personal note, With the sweet gum I have custom sawed in the past you must stick it with a lot of weight on top to get it to stay flat. Some thing about the way the tree grows makes it want to twist badly, I would put it on the bottom of a heavy stack of oak or something of the like.
Got my WM lt40g24, Setworks and debarker in oct. '97, been sawing part time ever since, Moving logs with a bobcat.

Offline Texas Ranger

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Re: Sweet Gum for lumber
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2001, 06:45:00 PM »
Tom, in Texas, Red Gum sold is tupelo.
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Offline Tom

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Re: Sweet Gum for lumber
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2001, 08:37:07 PM »
Enterprising sawyers sell Black Gum as Tupelo here, Don.

They buy Black Gum though. :D
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Sweet Gum for lumber
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2001, 03:56:42 AM »
Tupelo is black gum.  

I remember seeing some tupelo selling for big bucks at a carving show.  I asked about it, and they said that it was "special" since it came from South Carolina.

It dawned on me that the only thing special about this wood was its ability to remove money from the unknowing.  Tupelo is the same stuff we put into pallet and ties, since there isn't much of a market for it up here.
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