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Any value in milling dead trees?

Started by DR_Buck, March 04, 2004, 07:08:45 PM

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 ???  I have lots of standing dead trees out in the back woods.  Probably died from bugs, blight and a few from lightening.   Oaks, maple and a few SYP.   Most are in the 15" -20" dbh.  Most of then look pretty solid and still have bark on them.

Is it worth harvesting these?

Is sawing them  any harder on blades that green wood?

Been there, done that.   Never got caught [/b]
Retired and not doing much anymore and still not getting caught


Yep, it's worth it.   If you sell the wood, you will have to find or create a market.  Most that I have sawed  has been treated and the bugs killed.  Buyers will want to be assured that the wood is bug free.

I saw lightening struck and bug killed SYP for a couple of landowners who are particular about saving live trees. They have me saw the dead ones for building hunting camps, fences, barns and other things around the properties.

The hardwoods I don't cut too much of dead.  

Dead/dry wood is harder to cut and is harder on sawblades.  SYP heart remains good and is actually a very marketable product.


I have always considered those freebies....(meaning whatever I get is a bonus)...I have gotten really fine lumber from standing dead wood...and I use a circle mill so they cut just the same to me!


Tom has spoke the truth. The answers are, yep, on all counts. But there is one more factor to consider. The more logs you open, especially "less than perfect" ones, the better you will be at guessing what is inside of future logs. If you are custom sawing, or accepting waste logs, or scrounging for logs where you can find them, it pays off, big time, to have some experience with "degrade" logs. Besides that, you will probably get some nice lumber to brag about from most of it. :)
"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."


 :)  Thanks for the input.   And yes, I am scrounging for logs.  Being new at this I haven't accumulated much sale-able lumber.  This week I'm going to pick up a free 100 red oak that fell over last fall during the hurricane.  I also got a lead tonight on a bunch of maples and oaks that are coming down so a guy can build a garage in that spot.  The hardwoods are what I am mainly interested in.

The market I am targeting for lumber around here is the horse farmers.  Our county has thousands of miles of 3 and 4 board fences.  So as long as I can sell a oak fence board for less then the $7.00 the co-op charges they should move pretty quick.  

My ultimate goal is to recover the cost of the new  LT40HD25 within a year.   Should be easy if I can get my hands on lots of oak.
Been there, done that.   Never got caught [/b]
Retired and not doing much anymore and still not getting caught


Dr, if those oaks are dead and dry they will be like sawing sand paper i wasted a new blade on one tree but got some decent lumber out of it,i also sawed some hickory only the heart was good but it wasnt hard on the blade like the oak.I hear dry dead maple is hard on blades too but never had to saw one yet,i got one but its still standing,trying to wait til i run out of good logs before i try it.
got wood?


This is some paneling I did in my living room that came from standing dead pine. There is a lot of bark beetle infestation around here. I try to take advantage of it when I can.


ALL the trees i mill are dead :D
ive been milling red pine thats dried and started to imbibe water. (cribbed) aside from the shower when milling, stuff cuts up nice. a couple of days rotated in the sun dries them enough to nail up in the house. ants only moved in an inch or so under the bark.
northern adirondak yankee farmer


DR what are they using for fencing?  I get $10 for 1 x 6 x 16' red oak from the horse farmers and fence companies.
James Mills,Lovely wife,collect old tools,vacuuming fool,36 bdft/hr,oak paper cutter,ebonic yooper rapper nauga seller, Blue Ox? its not fast, 2 cat family, LT70,edger, 375 bd ft/hr, we like Bob,free heat,no oil 12 years,big splitter, baked stuffed lobster, still cuttin the logs dere IAM


Saw them until they are all gone 8)

A vast majority of the logs I got from my Grandparents woods prior to the sale of the land was dead standing timber.

I have even salvaged some red oak that had rotted the outer 5 inches of a 36" log.   Once I got down into it I was able to get some beautiful wood from it.

Although some of them can be more difficult to cut because they are dryer, I haven't noticed that much of a difference.  If the norm in air drying wood is 1" per year I would venture to say there is quite a bit of moisture in those trees still and cutting wont be that bad.

I have some ash that was on the ground from a storm for two hunting seasons before I got to it.  Got some great lumber out of it.



I have sawn lots of Elm that died from the Dutch Elm disease. The wood is beautiful, although a little hard. I'm going to make some into hardwood flooring.
Mobile Demension sawmill, Bobcat 873 loader, 3 dry kilns and a long "to do" list.



The co-op sells 5/4 oak fence boards for about $7.00 each in bundles of 220 boards.   Cost is about 50 cents more in lower quantities.

Been there, done that.   Never got caught [/b]
Retired and not doing much anymore and still not getting caught


Dr Buck,
What length are those boards? Then we'd figure out the price bf they're getting. If the trees are starting to get some defects and degrade, like bugs and check, don't think you'd be wasting your time. I can get more for wormy dead red oak from local woodworkers than fas. Market the character of the boards, even telling the story of their salvage. You might find you'll have a hard time keeping any wood for your own projects.

I too run a circle mill, so I can't help you much with the bandmill question. I can tell you though that even on my mill you notice the difference between live and dead wood. The dead wood will be less consistent in hardness than live wood. This means I have to watch my feed rates very carefully or else the saw might saw off line.
If you're not broke down once in a while, you're not working hard enough

I'm not a hillbilly. I'm an "Appalachian American"

Retired  Conventional hand-felling logging operation with cable skidder and forwarder, Frick 01 handset sawmill

Pretend farmer when I have the time


I say go for them too, I sawed some red oak that had been down about three years and figured it was all but mulch. Once I got into it there was some of the prettiest wormy oak I have seen. You won't know until you try and so long as the price is right go for it!!



I've gotten some of the nicest red oak from DOS trees. Cut one oak that had about 6" of punk around the outside. Made a real mess around the mill from all the rotted material coming off the log as it was turned, but got some of the nicest 18" RO I ever cut.  If it don't make nice boards it sure do make good firewood. Ya can't lose.
Proud owner of a LT40HDSE25, Corley Circle mill, JD 450C, JD 8875, MF 1240E
Tilt Bed Truck  and well equipted wood shop.


DanG, where do you guys find all the interesting stuff?  I sawed a cord of red oak for a customer that said it had been in the pile for 5 years at least.  Once I got inside the sapwood (rotted) it was perfect.  No spalting, no worm holes.
I eat a high-fiber diet.  Lots of sawdust!

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