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Author Topic: Sweet Gum Tree  (Read 8901 times)

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Offline campy

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Sweet Gum Tree
« on: January 13, 2011, 11:14:24 PM »
I am revieving a free sweet gum tree.
It consists of 4 straight 10 foot logs the biggest is 28" diameter.

Please, I could use advice regarding how thick to cut it and what to  advise my customers to use the lumber for.  I plan on inventorying the lumber and selling it.

I have heard that it should be cut on the thick side because it likes to cup, twist and warp.

I have also read that it is a very pretty wood.

Please advise.

Offline sigidi

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2011, 04:42:04 AM »
Sorry Campy, I dunno anything about a sweet gum tree, but I wanna see pics when ya saw it! ;D ;)
Always willing to help - Allan

Offline Magicman

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2011, 08:12:34 AM »
I know where you can get some more of them.   :) 
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Offline robnrob2

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2011, 09:00:05 AM »
I milled up over 800bf of Sweetgum at 4/4  did a real nice sticker and stack job and a tin roof over it, a year later when I broke it down was very very dissapointed with the quality of the lumber,, I made a good size stack of it and sold it at a bargin price, the better lumber I kept and am selling it a .50 BF  I sell a little of it here and there,, guys make ugly box's and bird houses out of it.
I learned the hard way,, I would only mill it for thick slabs, bar tops, mantles stuff like that.

Offline dovetails

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2011, 09:04:47 AM »
I cut mine into 6x6 or 8x8's then when dry cut to length with chain saw for fire wood!
A lot faster than useing the log splitter, and neater too!
All the 1x8's curled to bad to use for anything else. Burns great in the stove!
1984 wm lt30,ford 3000 w/frt lift,several chain saws, 1953 model 30 Vermeer stump grinder,full wood working shop, log home in the woods what more ya need?

Offline sealark37

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2011, 09:31:59 AM »
Heavy equipment mechanics and others who need blocks to support heavy stuff prefer sweetgum because it does not crush easily, plus, it is lighter than other woods of similar strength.  We ordered 4X4, 6X6, and 8X8 in random lengths, then we cut what we needed as required.  Regards, Clark :)

Offline DanG

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2011, 09:39:46 AM »
Sweetgum is a crapshoot, but worth it if you have the time to mess with it.  I cut a batch of it several years ago and ended up with probably 50-60% recovery of usable lumber.  I would have done better if I had stacked it better though.  The key seems to be lots of weight on top of the stack.  I had one 12' log and the rest were 8 footers, so I put the 12' board on the bottom, leaving 4' sticking out with nothing on them.  After about 9 months, that stack looked a bit like a frayed rope with the end all curled up. :D  I put a bunch of weight on the 8' part by stacking some oak on top of it and had much better success but still lost a bunch to twisting.  The part that dried straight  was really beautiful though, and made it worthwhile to me.  I had cut all of it at a heavy 4/4.
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Offline pineywoods

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2011, 09:46:45 AM »
Campy, if you quartersaw that sweetgum, it will make a world of difference. You wouldn't get any boards wider than 6 inches. Stack and sticker in the shade, it dries slowly. Where there are knots, it will warp, makes nice wood, takes a stain and finish nicely.
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Offline Tom

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2011, 09:50:35 AM »


One of these days, I'm going to wear this picture out.

Cut your sweetgum 1 1/8 to 1 1/4 inches thick to get 1" or 3/4" finished boards.  Dry the green wood in a shelter, like a pole barn, with good air flow and no direct sun (heat).  Be aware of powderpost beetles getting into it.

I sawed widths of what the log will stand but most usable boards will be 8" or less.  Sawed narrow will help to eliminate cup, but twist can be a problem.  Sawing wide produces cup but minimizes twist and the cup can be fought by ripping the boards more narrow after drying.

Drying success has  lot to do with how good you level the log.  Grain runout and cutting boards at an angle to heart, promotes degrade.
extinct

Offline Chico

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2011, 02:27:07 PM »
Crossties are usually a pretty good way to get rid of it if you have lot of it but as Dang said stick it well with plenty of ventilation and a good bit of weight on top Gum checks up pretty bad sometimes regardless what u do with it jmo
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Offline Buck

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2011, 06:36:48 PM »
Pallet matl. too. But bundle it and sell it soon after cutting.
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2011, 09:45:34 PM »
Hack-N-Squirt kill them so that something worth something can grow.
 


Planting Cherrybark Oaks in a Sweetgum thicket.
 


One year old Oak trees growing and dead sweetgums.
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Offline WDH

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2011, 11:28:04 PM »
It does not like to be glued up in wide panels unless perfectly dry.  It is most stable q-sawn as Piney points out.  It would make ferocious wainscotting where each board is free to move on its own.  I made two projects out of it and they both warped with some twist, so I have not figured it out either.  Beautiful stuff, though.  There is a reason that it is mainly used as core stock for plywood, pallets, and railroad ties  :).
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Offline ljmathias

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2011, 05:57:22 AM »
I've cut up a few trees, some 8" or so and one really big trunk.  As everyone has said, it will definitely twist and bow on you.  Stacking helps some but not much- incredibly tough wood and hard to work, too.  I've made a small two-seater bench out of some and cut some longer pieces into slats for a swing- looks ok and if you work at it you can make it really look good.  It all comes down to time and money if you are just going to use if for regular projects- not worth either in that case.  If it's free, and you have time to spend, experiment- someone will figure out how to cut and dry it sometime and then we'll all benefit.  Like Magicman implied, there's lots of it out there and it ain't going away soon.

Here's my thought on it: how can we use the interlocking grain and the toughness and hard to split qualities that result?  Decking would be one use although it doesn't weather well uncoated.  I believe it was used on wagon wheels at some point in history- wooden bearings and maybe outer "tire" if memory hasn't failed me completely.  Maybe make wooden sleds out of it for those with regular snow?  Handles for axes and shovels?  There must be some good uses for it or Mother Nature wouldn't have given us so much, right? :) :)

Lj
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Offline DanG

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2011, 08:54:13 AM »
Here's a sweetgum countertop one of my customers built. :)




"I don't feel like an old man.  I feel like a young man who has something wrong with him."  Dick Cavett
"Beat not thy sword into a plowshare, rather beat the sword of thine enemy into a plowshare."

Offline Magicman

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2011, 09:05:45 AM »
I sawed  a couple Mbf for a customer.  He said that he was going to panel a room with it.  I have no idea if he stickered it, kiln dried, it or what.  I'd love to know how it turned out.

My problem with Sweetgum on the tree farm is that it grows very fast for a few years, then just sits there growing taller but not adding much to the diameter.  I've gotten rid or most of my old "mother" trees that were spreading seed.  Some of these were 3'-4' diameter.  The tree farm value will greatly increase in the future because of these actions. 
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Offline piedmont

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2011, 07:58:42 PM »
DanG, that's some pretty stuff. Is that all heartwood in that picture?

Offline DanG

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2011, 08:05:47 PM »
Yes, that is all heartwood from logs in the range of 20" in diameter.  I didn't have any luck getting boards with both heart and sapwood to dry straight enough to use.
"I don't feel like an old man.  I feel like a young man who has something wrong with him."  Dick Cavett
"Beat not thy sword into a plowshare, rather beat the sword of thine enemy into a plowshare."

Offline piedmont

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #18 on: January 17, 2011, 08:47:41 PM »
What was the percentage of heartwood in those logs, and what use did you find for the boards made from sapwood? Did the sapwood dry at a different rate from the heartwood, causing the warping? Sorry for all the questions, but I may be sawing some sweetgum in the near future.

Offline DanG

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Re: Sweet Gum Tree
« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2011, 10:20:01 PM »
Don't be sorry for the questions.  That's how we get to give answers. ;)  If I remember right, the sapwood was pretty thin on those particular trees.  They grew slowly in some pretty thick woods and were tall and straight.  I don't remember having any boards that were all sapwood from them, but a bunch of crooked boards served to keep my toes warm for a while. :D
"I don't feel like an old man.  I feel like a young man who has something wrong with him."  Dick Cavett
"Beat not thy sword into a plowshare, rather beat the sword of thine enemy into a plowshare."


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