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Author Topic: Advice on cedar posts?  (Read 3419 times)

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Offline landscraper

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Advice on cedar posts?
« on: February 05, 2014, 09:58:06 AM »
Hello all, been lurking here for a few years and chiming in on rare occasion.  It's another rainy day and I can't work so I thought I'd finally learn how to post pics and ask some questions.

I cut a bunch of cedar recently. This is one of the piles.  Most are cut 16-20 foot in length and they range in size roughly from 8"-18" butts.
 

I usually don't get whole stands of decent cedar, normally it's just field trees or lone cedars amongst the hardwoods, but lots of these trees had minimal sapwood so I thought I'd keep them rather than chip them (it was a clearing job).  This is a top, still showing minimal sapwood.  Not all of them are this good, I'd say 3/4" to 1" sapwood on many of them.
 

Since I need a few hundred fence posts right now my plan is a follows - take the tops down to 7' or 8' in length that still have close to a  6" diameter on the small end ,like this one, and saw them into whatever size solid heart cant I can get, minimum 4x4 I think, for barbed wire fence posts.  I don't know the elasticity/brittleness of cedar, but alot of the PT pine posts sold around here are 3-4" rounds, so I figure a 4x4 square post ought to be ok, and I will cut a 3x5, 4x6,  5x5 when the log allows.  Corner, gate and brace posts will be bigger than that.
 

This 4x4 came out of a 6-1/8" cant, I sawed a 2x6 off one face and a 2x4 off the other, leaving the 4x4.  That's my threshold size for a post.


So, my question(s) are - for anyone who cuts many posts - any advice on handling small logs on the deck?  Is it worth trying to put 2 or 3 on the bed to cut at once, or will varying wane and diameter be too hard to equalize?  I do not have a turner, hydraulics, or toe-boards, I just stick a 1x or 2x or whatever under the small end to adjust for taper.  How about clamping the little logs (6""-12") - always seems like a pain with my manual clamp, I was thinking about making 2 sliding spike-dogs on a piece of C-channel about 1-2" off the bed rails that I clamp the manual clamp against on it's lowest setting.  Any other advice towards making it easier is welcome.  I am going to saw them one way or the other, not just plant them in the ground with the jacket still on.

With all the butts and tops big enough to get a 6x6 or better out of I might try to cut up enough square logs for a small log cabin that my son has been asking to build for a year now, got a cool spot on a bluff overlooking a creek bottom we picked out.  With whatever is left, maybe saw some weatherboard, some 1x 2x etc to use and sell.  Most of the bigger logs will have to wait until the new mill gets here, I ordered a LT35 hydraulic and am looking forward to the hydraulic log handling, but the fence posts are needed sooner than later so I will start going on the little logs with the LT30, it works plenty good still.

Thanks, hope I did the picture thing right and wasn't too long winded.  I appreciate all the knowledge and expertise on this forum!
 
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Offline shelbycharger400

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2014, 10:13:06 AM »
Ten and up I'd mill into boards. Rest use as is as post

Offline drobertson

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2014, 10:19:50 AM »
Looks like you have a good jag of work ahead of you! Not sure what to say on the clamping, and I have never tried to saw more than one log at a time, it seems like it would be a bigger pain, not sure.  I would say just start in and maybe try different ideas on the clamping.  david
only have a few chain saws I'm not suppose to use, but will at times, one dog Dolly, pretty good dog, just not sure what for yet,  working on getting the gardening back in order, and kinda thinking on maybe a small bbq bizz,  thinking about it,

Offline GAB

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2014, 11:09:53 AM »
landscraper:
If you have, or have access to, an SLR you might consider sawing some shingles for that log cabin roof from the larger logs.  I sawed some cedar 3/4" thick for bird house building stock.  Good luck.  Gerald   
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2014, 11:16:38 AM »
My Father,an old timer,always said to split cedar for posts. The ones that was sawed would not last. This is the cedar we have here in Chesterville,ME.
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Offline landscraper

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2014, 01:32:42 PM »
Thanks for the responses so far.  I definitely will think about the shingles, I saw a post a while back about using a sticker to prop one side of the log and then doing a 5/16" / 5/8" drop on successive cuts to make siding, I'm sure I could do something similar for shingles and then fireproof them. 

I don't have time to split that many posts, so I am going to take my chances on sawing off the sapwood and burying the heart posts.   

Lo and behold I was looking at a post someone made recently about sawing small diameter logs and saw the picture of the EZ-Dog that a sawmill company makes, so I went down to the shop (these rain days are killing me) and cobbled up an ugly imitation.
 

I clamped it to the mill with the jam bolts, seems sturdy enough, and then I cribbed a piece of pine up on it.  I can tell already that I need to sharpen the spikes down more, but otherwise I think the idea is fine.  I'll try it on a few of the small logs and see if it is more trouble than it is worth with all the clamping and unclamping.
 

Thanks again.
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Offline Ocklawahaboy

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2014, 01:44:35 PM »
Ose larger logs would definitely be sawn into lumber down here.  Guess its supply/demand

Offline captain_crunch

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2014, 02:48:04 PM »
I always been told to split ceader posts as they will outlast sawn ones
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Offline Cedarman

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2014, 03:19:35 PM »
If using for fence posts for own use and even to sell I would saw a tapered post 5" top into a 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" top by 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" base.  A little bark or sap on corners will not hurt a thing as far as durability of a cedar post.   A 6" top will make a 4x4 top by 5x5 base, 7" top will make 5x5 top by 6x6 base.  The important part of the post is at ground level where the deterioration will be the greatest. 
Sawing tapered posts on a manual WM is easier than sawing a uniform square post.
We tape a 3/4" shim on the second rail and leave it there.  Put the post with about 1  to 1 1/2' of top past the shim.  Leaving the shim in while sawing all 4 sides will make for  about a 1" taper from top to bottom.
When we were sawing hundreds of tapered posts we could do 1 post ever 2 to 3 minutes.  Have to have coordination with offbearer in locking post, slab removal, post removal,  etc.  We had posts on log deck and used a rod with hook to pull the next post forward onto the deck.
Logs presorted and with small end toward mill head.

Same can be done sawing non tapered posts, but shim has to be removed when sawing last 2 sides.

We sell a fair amount of cedar into VA. So I know there is a market there.
8"  and 9"  I would saw  1" . Jacket boards saw 3/4 for paneling as only 1 face is needed to be nice.  10" and up would saw a lot of 2x8 for raised garden beds.  these can have some ingrown bark and even some small rot spots, but will still make for good beds.  The market for those is big if people know you have them.
Since cedar will keep in log form for several years, I would stockpile by length if you have room, then buck to length and saw as orders pop up.

We had very little trouble locking even 4" logs.  One thing we did do was for the offbearer to keep down pressure on log if it didn't seem to be securely locked in.  After sawing 1/2 way, then the sawyer applied down pressure until saw left end of log.
As they say, use what works and discard the rest.
I am in the pink when sawing cedar.

Offline Magicman

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2014, 04:07:19 PM »
Where I live, ERC will not last as post.  Five years or so and they will rot off at ground level. 
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Offline Cedarman

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2014, 04:49:06 PM »
We sold about a 1/2 million 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 mailbox posts from 98 to 06 from cedar that came from central Al and near Meridian Ms.  Have not heard of any problems around the country where they were planted.
Is it the soil in Ms that causes the problem.
I am in the pink when sawing cedar.

Offline drobertson

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2014, 06:21:03 PM »
I know that charring the ends of split white oak prevent much of the decay the happens at ground level, not sure if it works or is required on erc.    david
only have a few chain saws I'm not suppose to use, but will at times, one dog Dolly, pretty good dog, just not sure what for yet,  working on getting the gardening back in order, and kinda thinking on maybe a small bbq bizz,  thinking about it,

Offline backwoods sawyer

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2014, 06:50:27 PM »
I find that trying to take a 4x4 and 2x6 out of a pole makes for a lot of tention, How straight do you want your post?

one thing about small logs is it don't take long to decide what can be milled out of each one, square them to the closest size.

I find milling small logs into post a two person job, hold till clamped, flip manualy, next. Trying to clamp and mill two at a time will not help with recovery and can cost you in clamping time.

also 5x5 make a real nice size post to work with
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Offline dgdrls

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2014, 07:14:35 PM »
Ten and up I'd mill into boards. Rest use as is as post

Agreed,   I might even try to go a little smaller for sawing,
The balance make 4 cuts on the end to make a point cut 8-12" up
and use as they are with the bark and all on them.

 

 

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Offline Magicman

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2014, 09:48:30 PM »
  Is it the soil in Ms that causes the problem.
Don't know, but nothing will last here except Black Locust, and even that has to be cured for a year before use.  :-\
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Offline RayMO

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2014, 12:03:11 AM »
I bet Osage Orange will last for you MM
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Offline xlogger

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2014, 05:26:22 AM »
Cedarman, what's the main reason for sawing taper posts? My only thinking would be to have more wood in soil and cleaner tops?
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Offline Cedarman

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2014, 07:16:47 AM »
Backwoods, cedar normally does not have a lot of tension in the wood.  We would make a lot of 3 1/2 x 7 x 8' and 7x7x8' and half or quarter them.  Would get very little bowing if any.  One in a great while you would get a goofy post.  At both mills together over the years we have made a million and a half of just those posts, let alone all the other posts we made.

Dg, best to remove bark a foot below to a foot above for best results.  Many times not done though.  About a year ago I pulled some round posts and split posts out of the ground that I planted in about 1980.  In a little over 30 years the sapwood was completely gone from about 6" below to 6" above ground level.  Below most sapwood was about 1/2 there but extremely discolored.  Above ground where bark was absent, much of the sapwood was present and sound except for bug holes.  Where bark had been left on post, most sapwood was gone.  Not much difference in round posts or split 1/2 posts or split 1/4 posts.
Ideally use posts with minimal sapwood.

xlogger, several reasons for sawing tapered posts.
one, gets more wood at ground level than a square post.
two,  since cedar logs are usually tapered with average taper of 1" to 1 1/2" per 8' you will leave more wood on post than in the slab.
three, on our old LT30 manual that we used when making tapered posts it was quicker than a straight post.
four, in central Indiana where most of the posts went , they had always used tapered posts because they can not be frost heaved out of the ground.

Now we cut only straight posts because we use an end dogging scragg that cuts opposite sides at once.  Two passes,  45 seconds and on to the next log.
I am in the pink when sawing cedar.

Offline Magicman

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2014, 08:35:35 AM »
I bet Osage Orange will last for you MM 
Not much Osage Orange (Hedge) here.   :-\  I wish that there was because I am often asked.
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Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: Advice on cedar posts?
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2014, 09:34:32 AM »
As you can see from your pictures, there are many knots in a cedar post.  These knots make it fairly weak compared to a species such as pine.  For a decorative post, this cedar would be fine, but for a fence that has animals inside, a stronger post would be advised.

As has been suggested, the money from the sales of 1" pieces (or even cut them 1-1/2" and then dry and resaw them into 3/4") is much more attractive financially.

Regarding Osage orange (Maclura pomifera), here is what I wrote for Sawmill & Woodlot
"The Latin name (genus and species) of Osage orange is in honor of William Maclura, an American 
geologist (1763 - 1840), and in recognition of the grapefruit-size (3" to 6" in diameter), inedible,
 spherical, bumpy pommes or apples it produces.  Many a farm child has used these fruits for baseballs!  It 
is most commonly known as Osage orange (perhaps named after the Osage Indians that lived in the
natural range of the tree), but other names include hedge, hedge-apple, yellow-wood, bowwood, Osage 
apple, and bodark.  The French called it "bois d'arc" meaning wood for archery bows; today the common 
name bodark or bodarc comes from this French name.

 The tree was native to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, but with the European settlement of the U.S, in 
the mid 1850s the tree "escaped" and is now found throughout the Eastern U.S.  Before the development 
of barbed wire, the tree was planted in the Great Plains and the East to develop a hedge row fence; stems 
and branches would grow as much as six feet in one year.  When planted close together and pruned, its
branchy-ness and spiny  thorns make a nearly impenetrable, natural hedge to any animal larger than a 
rabbit.  During President Roosevelt?s "Great Plains Shelterbelt" WPA project starting in 1934, over 200 
million trees were planted to control soil erosion.  A thornless variety is available today for horticultural
 plantings.

The extremely high strength of this wood led to its use for archery bows, and for wheel rims and axle
 hubs for wagons.  It is probably the most naturally decay resistant species in North America, leading to 
its use as fence posts, insulators and insulator pins on telephone poles, and railroad ties.  Yet is seems 
terrible to use such a beautiful wood for these outside, non-appearance items.  The beautiful coloring of 
this wood has made Osage Orange desirable for turnings and novelties, as well as for accent wood in 
musical instruments, substituting for ebony at times.  Nevertheless, it use is limited today; the potential
 exists for more widespread use, especially as an accent species.

 The tree itself is rather short, seldom over 50 feet tall, and when grown in the open, it is very branchy 
with multiple trunks; it is sometimes called a shrub.  The root wood and bark, and to a lesser extent the
 wood itself, have a great amount of yellow coloring that can be extracted in hot water and used as dye. 
Native Americans used this coloring.  In WW I, the dye was used for khaki coloring.  An extract from the
 pommes called elemol has been found to be as effective as DEET for repelling mosquitos."
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more


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