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Quite Possibly the Dumbest Question I have every asked; but here goes!

Started by Charles135, May 21, 2012, 09:54:59 PM

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My aunt has several huge red oaks in her yard around my grandfather's old home place.  One of the tree's has a limb that has just broken from its own weight.  So here is the dumb part:  Is limb wood of mill-able quality?  Or should it just be used for menial tasks and firewood?  The reason I ask is this particular limb has a 26" diameter at the end of the splintering and tapers to 24" and is straight as an arrow for 15 feet, then gets pretty crooked.
Thanks for any advice. 
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Someone with more experience then I will hopefully come along and give you another answer.  My experience has been with pecan, the limbs made some nice strait lumber.  I would try milling a red oak limb of that size.

The only dumb question is the one you don't ask. 
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generally, limb wood  is under tension and will not make straight lumber. That's not to say it can never make straight lumber, but the yield of useable lumber is much lower in the limbs than in the trunk. The only way to know for sure is to cut it. oh, and check the pith. if it is fairly centered on both ends, you may have some luck with it.
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I have never dealt with one of that size. Smaller. firewood. Try looking at that the pith, centered, probably use for lumber, off center, lot of stress. Just as guess, firewood. Someone with more experience with this size limbs might have a better answer.


I'm new but I would saw it the straight piece but would position so that the boards are taken with stress to left or right so the wood would only warp to the left or right then re'saw on table saw when ready to use oh thats is only a opinion  :-\
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Chuck White

I would saw it, but I would saw it oversized.

Then once it was dried, I'd resaw it to my desired dimensions!
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Usually, limbs curve upward as it tries to go towards sunlight.  The curving of the limbs lead to fibers that go in that direction.  Crooked logs make crooked lumber, no matter what part of the tree they come from.  Some species are worse than others.

But, you are describing a straight limb.  I've seen trees that have straight limbs in their top.  Red oak does this after a crotch where several limbs will be straight.  Many species do this, and I'm sure I've sawn these many times. 

When cruising timber, some foresters may include those limbs in the topwood in volume estimates.  I've even talked to some foresters that included lateral limbs in volume estimates. 
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Do what Chuck White said. You'll still get some very special lumber.
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If it is a straight limb above a fork (think of a "V" sign), then you will probably be OK milling it.  If the limb comes out from the trunk at a 60 - 90 degree angle, it's firewood.
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Thanks Guys,
The limb does come out of the truck at a 90.  The pith is fairly centered on both ends but it is closer to the top.  I am going to take you guy's advise and saw it.  It if works out great if not I am a brand spaking new sawyer so the practice will be great. 
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Serving the Thin Blue Line Since 1998


Put it on the mill and make some boards. I will bet that they warp real bad but I would give it a try.
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Saw it a bit thicker, and expect it to move.  Put it on the bottom of the drying stack and put as much weight on it as you can.

Even if it does move, then you have bit extra to joint smaller sections of it straight again.

Sometimes you get lucky and find curly grain in tensioned logs like that.

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Center the pith vertically. The boards will bow across the length but has less chance of crowning across the width. I hope that makes sense.
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The "Dumbest Question" is an unasked question.  Everyone learns from honest and sincere questions.

In my experience, scsmith42 and LeeB nailed your answers.  Since I only saw customer's logs, I advise against sawing limb wood.  If I do, it is hourly rate only.
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I am with Ron.  Bad logs generally saw out bad lumber.  It is too much work to saw, stack, dry, unstack, sort and store low grade, sorry, split, bowed, crooked, knotty, and warped lumber.  Don't ask me how I know this.  I don't cut limb wood to dry and sell.  Too much low grade, sorry, split, bowed, crooked, knotty, and warped lumber.

If you only ever cut a few logs, then it is an adventure and go for it.  To do it on any scale is counter-productive in the long run.
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