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Author Topic: Log ID tips.  (Read 1912 times)

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Online Dave Shepard

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Log ID tips.
« on: January 21, 2010, 08:05:14 PM »
I could use some suggestions for telling the difference between ash and tulip. Some of them are really obvious, but then I will get a log and I can't tell what it is. We just got two tri-axle loads delivered from our logging job and I had to sort them. I think there were 3 or 4 logs that got moved back and forth from the ash to tulip pile more than once. :D From the seat of the excavator, all I have to go by is the bark, I can't see the end of the log. I ended up walking the pile and marking the tulip with a spot of paint. I think I may have found two ways to tell. Ash seems to have a visible color difference between early and late wood, and I can  stick the tip of my knife about a 1/2" into tulip, and barely into the ash. Am I destined to have to inspect each log, or do you get to know by sight after a while?
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Offline Captain

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Re: Log ID tips.
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2010, 08:46:19 PM »
When in doubt, smell them.  Can't mistake Ash for Tulip that way....then again that's hard to do from the seat in the excavator as well  ::)

Offline WDH

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Re: Log ID tips.
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2010, 09:01:31 PM »
On the tulip poplar, the ridges that form the diamond pattern on the bark look like someone shaved them flat with a draw knife.  Not so with ash.  The ridges are not abviously flattened.  Also, at least down here, there is a lichen or fungus that likes ash bark, so there are conspicuiois "green" patches on the bark of ash.  At least down here, the color of the bark is different.  Poplar has a silver gray color while the ash bark has more of a green tint, heightened by the green lichen that likes to live on ash bark.

However, a definitive test is to inspect the end grain on the log.  Ash is "ring porous" where the earlywood put down in the spring has large pores and the "latewood" put down later in the growing season has small pores.  This contrast in pore size creates the "grain" appearance in species like ash and oak.  This pore size difference creates a very distinct texture difference across the growth ring, like the contrast that you see in pine.  Not so with poplar which is "diffuse porous" where the pores are the same size all across the annual growth ring.  So the grain is not dominant, and there is more of a bland effect.
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Offline oakiemac

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Re: Log ID tips.
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2010, 09:51:20 PM »
I also have a hard time telling the difference between Ash and Poplar. I posted about it a couple of years ago. I can now tell about 50% of the time. Still some what challenged in this area. ;D
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Offline bill m

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Re: Log ID tips.
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2010, 10:07:15 PM »
Next time you are sorting set an Ash log right in front of you and leave it there. When you pick up a log you have a question about swing it close to the Ash log and look at the differences. After a while it will get easier to tell Ash from Tulip.
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Log ID tips.
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2010, 05:56:14 AM »
When I was in college, we pointed out to our dendro prof that he gave the same bark description for tulip poplar, ash and walnut.  When asked how to tell the difference, he started to stammer, then simply said "They don't look like anything else".  And here we thought it was complicated.

We still get the obligatory ash mixed in with the poplar.  The guy that is the worst at it is the trucker who's color blind.  He can't see the green heartwood in the poplar.

We always try to separate the species before we get to the log yard.   The guy loading the truck will bunch all the poplar together and all the ash together.  That should reduce your battle. 

But, the bark on the ash always seems to be smaller and tighter diamond shapes.  Ridges are sharper in ash.  Our poplar tends to be straighter and more round than ash.  When in doubt ash doesn't look like anything else....except poplar.   :D
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Online Dave Shepard

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Re: Log ID tips.
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2010, 09:20:46 PM »
Both the ash and poplar had some sort of lichen growing on them. I have gotten better. I was trucking brush past the log yard all day yesterday, and stopped three times to move logs from one pile to the other. :D It got easier when the snow melted off of them. The knife test is very conclusive, ash is much harder when green. Not sure when they are dry, I had to put some hinges in poplar, and it is DanG hard when dry. Most of the logs seemed to fit in their respective category, but there were a couple that had the wrong size hearts, or funny colors. Sawed 940 feet this afternoon, and they were all tulip. So far, so good. 8)
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