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Author Topic: Black locust burls  (Read 876 times)

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Offline moodnacreek

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Black locust burls
« on: September 30, 2022, 08:27:22 PM »
I suppose this question would have been aimed at WDH, may he rest in peace. Any how here goes; today picking out locust saw logs to cut a good sized order I found some nice fat ones, good on both ends, no brown heart. These logs have burls and it hit me that the best locust I have cut in the past also had burls that I cut off and kept wet for a wood turner friend. What is the relationship here? Do burls on the side of a nice locust tree tell me to expect a healthy saw log?

Offline doc henderson

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Re: Black locust burls
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2022, 09:19:40 AM »
good question, no idea! :)
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Online Ron Wenrich

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Re: Black locust burls
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2022, 08:29:55 AM »
I haven't seen burls on black locust in my neck of the woods.  I have sawn some pretty nice locust without burls.  It may be an indicator, but you have to have a bit larger sample size.  Its real easy to remember the ones with a burl, but forget about the nice ones without the burl.

We've had some discussion about burls in the past.  We had one guy that suggested that the burls came from some sort of injury.  He was turning a cherry burl and came up with bullet on the inside.  So, he thought they formed from bullets and shot up a bunch of cherry trees, just for the burls.  We never did find out how his experiment ended.

Others have suggested that it comes from some sort of stress on the tree.  Bacteria,fungus and insects have also been suggested.  There are a few posts that talk about hollow trees and burls. 

I would speculate that no one really has figured it out.  What is interesting is that burls appear on many different species. 
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Offline doc henderson

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Re: Black locust burls
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2022, 08:54:43 AM »
there is some sort of pine pole they build with in the south west or maybe it was Deadwood.  porch poles and stuff, and they seem to have a bulge or burl every 3 feet.  seems like they are "produced".
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Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Black locust burls
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2022, 05:46:45 PM »
I should age these nice logs. What I generally find is the young small logs produce the sound lumber. Just when the log gets good dia. the heart goes rotten and most times you can't box it out. Then you have the monster logs that are heart rotten but have enough good wood on the outside [hence the top saw].   A member here once said that the tap root dies and causes the heart rot so common in locust.  Locust is a pioneer ment to be replaced by another tree species. Most times they have poor form from being open grown. A good third of the logs are no good for lumber but there is constant demand for locust planks and I charge a high price. A mill as small as me needs this type of specialty.  This is not the first time the burly logs where the best.

Online Ron Wenrich

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Re: Black locust burls
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2022, 05:42:20 AM »
I remember my great uncle's farm had large locust trees along his lane in front of the barn.  He told me that the old farmers use to plant locust as lightning rods.  Supposedly the locust attracted the lightning.  An old wives tale that may have some truth.

I find that the black locust has a shallow root system.  Back when hurricane Louis came through, the only trees that were blown over were the black locust.  The shallow system lends to the sucker sprouts that come up from the roots. 

Heart rot is pretty prevalent in locust in my area.  When we got locust to saw, it was generally small logs.  I made 4x4 posts and was lucky to get 4 good posts from a log.  Even those logs would have pockets of rot.  I still have a few locust on my property.  A couple are good size and look to be solid.  Some of the smaller ones already have conks on them.  Its always been a head scratcher why a tree so rot resistant would have so much heart rot.
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Black locust burls
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2022, 06:21:53 AM »
I have cedar the same way.
Hard to get a 4x4 out of them.
I have some good size cedar, but when there is 3-4 inches of rot in the center, hard to get a 4x4 out of that.
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Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Black locust burls
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2022, 07:53:47 AM »
I have cedar the same way.
Hard to get a 4x4 out of them.
I have some good size cedar, but when there is 3-4 inches of rot in the center, hard to get a 4x4 out of that.
With the white cedar it is location. The local cedar mill knows where the sound timber grows.

Offline ID4ster

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Re: Black locust burls
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2022, 05:36:06 PM »
Doc,

The pine poles with the "burls" on them that you saw in the southwest or South Dakota were most likely ponderosa or lodgepole pine that had been attacked by western gall rust. That disease causes a growth that looks a lot like a burl and in sufficient quantities on a limb or trunk they could produce a decorative effect.
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Kendrick, Idaho
Want to improve your woodlot the fastest way? Start thinning, believe me it needs it.

Offline Don P

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Re: Black locust burls
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2022, 06:06:25 PM »
 A good locust is pretty rare here. I don't think I've ever seen a real burl. The main thing I've seen is if there is anything abnormal, its probably got rot. I prefer it in 6x6 and 6x8's when there is a good one, it is very nice timberframing wood. 
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Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Black locust burls
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2022, 08:46:04 PM »
I used to cut locust into 4x6 and 1x6 side boards mostly 8'. For trailer decks requiring white oak that I never have enough of I mix locust in to complete the order. I will buy locust any time some one will bring it in. Other than end splits it keeps forever, thats why I will buy all I can get.           The hearts are only good on young logs and the big logs that show no rot are all wind cracks in the heart.  Because of this I don't take much side lumber that is after the slab I make a 2" pull as 2" plank is what I am after. This is not the correct way to saw a log but a 'ski' is better than the rot that is coming . Many cuts must go through the edger, sometimes all of them. I also taper almost any time if I think the  heart is bad. Alot of waste and firewood.  2x8 is the thing to saw, always sells, never have enough.

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Re: Black locust burls
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2022, 05:07:19 AM »
10 yrs ago, I had a client that would buy as much locust logs as he could find.  He had a buyer go out to mills and buy their logs.  He traveled the East Coast.  When he had a trailerload, they would send them to an Amish mill to be sawn.  His price was $3.50/bf and sold some for architectural work.  Some is in the George Bush Library.  His sales kept his business afloat. 

We used to saw tapered post.  Saw a 6x6, then split it with a taper out.  It was hard to pull the post out of the ground.  Not much demand anymore as the old farmers have passed. 
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Offline Don P

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Re: Black locust burls
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2022, 06:54:33 AM »
The local large mill tried locust one time years ago and after that told the loggers to leave them. It was a losing deal at that scale, hard on equipment for low yield. Since then they started a firewood operation so it went into that stream. Meanwhile a locust decking company started up south of us. I think of it as our teak. It's tough to get good locust, but it is fine wood.
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Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Black locust burls
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2022, 08:57:22 AM »
Never herd of a tapered fence post. I would rather do 2x8 than posts especially 4x4 as they are embarrassing . Almost none straight and black holes. Before we got termites seasoned locust would really last in the ground. The hiking trail clubs demand it for their board walks over streams and swamps, that's the big demand here. I am charging $2.25 bd. ft. no end trim, good one side [2x8 or 6. If the saw teeth have too much hook angle, locust will bend back a wire edge requiring filing the top of the tooth. feeding slow and making fine sawdust if hard on the eyes and nose. Back to the sawmill.

Offline dustyhat

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Re: Black locust burls
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2022, 08:00:27 PM »
I dont know much about burls , but i do know a guy that makes big money off of locust, making split rails .i think he gets five dollars a rail. 

Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Black locust burls
« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2022, 09:16:25 AM »
I dont know much about burls , but i do know a guy that makes big money off of locust, making split rails .i think he gets five dollars a rail.
No interest in burls here, I just noticed the locust logs that have them are better logs.

Offline barbender

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Re: Black locust burls
« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2022, 11:23:26 AM »
I don't have any black locust in my area. But with you guys mentioning how it is super rot resistant, yet it rots out in the heart makes me think of the white cedar around here. Another very rot resistant species, and it does the same thing. It is rare to find a cedar over 10"  that isn't hollow.
Too many irons in the fire


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