Wild Cherry Log

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Seth Ellis
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:23 am

Wild Cherry Log

Post by Seth Ellis »

A recent storm in Maryland knocked over a very large tree that we believe to be Cherry. It's probably 40" diameter at the base. My question is, if I take it to a sawmill, how should I have it cut? Quarter sawn in 1" boards for drying for back and side sets maybe? I have a 16" band saw with 10" resaw, so maybe I could have it cut in thicker billets for resawing at home later? I'm guessing fewer cuts at the mill would be less expensive. Any advice or encouragement would be very welcomed. This would be my first time trying to take a tree and mill it for guitar wood, but it's been a long time dream to do so. I figure any wood I don't use for guitars I can use for furniture or other projects.

As far as drying goes, I have an uninsulated carport that gets very hot in the summer. I'll stack it in there and let it dry away in the humid Maryland summer heat.

Best,
Seth

Steve Senseney
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Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Steve Senseney »

Quarter saw of course.

Cut this to several sizes. You need to look at the log and figure where your best back pieces will be. Look at the log and figure where branches are on the surface, and any areas where a branch that was trimmed in the past was trimmed off. Realize these will be poor choices for your back pieces. Pick out the very best area and plan on getting this cut with the most care.

It will be easy to pick other pieces for the sides, and you should have little trouble picking pieces for necks. These can always be three piece necks with contrasting strips of wood.

I am not familiar with insect damage to cherry wood, but almost every tree has insects which damage them. REMOVE THE BARK AS SOON AS YOU CAN. The insects lay their eggs under the bark, and then the larve eat big holes in the wood. Use a draw knife or something similar.

You need to seal the ends of the boards and allow them to dry somewhat slowly. Seal with paint, parrafin, or I have started using the stretch plastic that you can bundle items with.

As far as resawing to smaller sizes early or later, it always has benefits either way. There is no absolute answer. If you cut boards thin early, they may warp a lot and be unusable. If you leave thick boards, you more surface cracking and they still warp some. You straigten out the board later and you have less to resaw, and it may be a couple of years before your board is sufficiently air dried to be stable moisture from inside to out.

As far as having the sawyer cut this up entirely or having him leave it large pieces that you resaw--His saw will have a wider kerf, and he may not have it very well adjusted. It may waste quite a bit of wood. If you are set up to resaw, and can do it, you may save more wood by cutting it yourself.

You can attack this with a chainsaw, split the log down the center, and reduce it to a size you can feed through your band saw.

To help you figure this out, I would suggest you start with some of the large branches, cut them up with the chainsaw, and then run through your band saw. You will learn what your bandsaw can accomplish, and figure how to read the log better. You will have a lot of nice pieces for small projects. Realize that the branches will have reaction wood, and you will have to let it stabilize, and understand it is not as predictable as straight grained wood.

Seth Ellis
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:23 am

Wow, thanks Steve! Great encouragement.

Post by Seth Ellis »

I'll get right to that bark removal. Not sure what I'll use as I don't have a draw knife. The tree has been down for 5 days. As far as the sawing... I'll have to plan cuts very carefully just to get sizes I can move without a tractor. It's a beautiful tree. Tall and straight, but like you said, I'll look to shorten the log where there are branches or large knots and try to get it to a manageable size while leaving the prime wood for back sets. Taking it to a sawyer would cost me money I don't have right now, so I may try to have at it on my own. Thanks for the encouragement. I know I could get longer boards if I took it to a mill, and I have a friend who would help me get it there and back, but these are good skills to develop as I think I'll have more opportunities as time goes by.

What about splitting the log with mauls and wedges? Does that stress the wood in any bad way that wouldn't happen with cutting? I was thinking about bucking it into 4' lengths and then splitting it into quarters so I could get it on to my trailer. I think it would still be very heavy and I might have to reduce further to fit my band saw.

Latex paint right? That seems to be the easiest to acquire. Is that the best route on a budget? I'm not familiar with the stretch plastic you mention.

Steve Senseney
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:45 pm

Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Steve Senseney »

Another "tool" to remove the bark is to use a spade that is sharpened.

As far as splitting the tree, I don't have personal experience with cherry, and it might split well or not. I don't know.

As far as moving a large log, be careful that you don't let it roll onto you or someone else.

If you can get a round roller under it, like several short pieces of a round wooden post, it will move fairly easily. Get it off of the ground by using a long board to lever it up a little and slip some small boards under one end. Move to the other end and repeat the process. If you can place a hydraulic jack or some type of jack, you can raise it sufficiently to place the rollers under it.

Once is is off of the ground, and on rollers, you may be able to move it with just one person. Or use a long rope pulled against or around a tree.

Mankind has been moving big things for a few thousand years without tractors.

Seth Ellis
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Joined: Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:23 am

Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Seth Ellis »

Here are some pictures. My wife is 5'10" for scale, so that gives an idea of the size.
http://g1.img-dpreview.com/A3D423D37C7D ... C3F213.jpg
http://g4.img-dpreview.com/1A05E494DE6B ... C1E518.jpg

Steve Senseney
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Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Steve Senseney »

I would get out the chain saw, cut the rotten end down until you have solid wood. I don't know how far the rot extends.

There is a little angle in the log. This makes it harder to get long boards, but still you should be able to get some short pieces out of every piece of the log.

As I mentioned earlier, start by cutting some of the limbs on the upper piece and see if they split well, or if your band saw handles them well. Then you will know if you want to process it by hand at home or consider getting it to the sawyer.

Seth Ellis
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Joined: Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:23 am

Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Seth Ellis »

I'm on it. I'll let you know how it goes. Best, Seth

Mario Proulx
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Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Mario Proulx »

Keep in mind that cherry makes wonderful necks, so consider cutting some of the nicer sections into full 4" x 4" or 3" x 3" stock, or full 4" or 3" slabs. Also remember that rib(side) stock needs to be about 36" long, while backs need only 24"(allowing some checking at the ends, and room to get around defects). Since ribs can come from narrower sections of the log, and once bent are very stable on their own, try to use the taller, narrower part of the tree for the rib stock, and save the largest parts for backs, necks, and plain wide boards for regular woodworking. Keep some of it thick enough for carved instruments, too. Ya never know...

Nice tree!

For now, as Steve said, get the bark off(I can attest that a spade works great!) and split it if you can get it to a sawyer. Once the bark is off, it's cut into lengths and split(and the ends are sealed), you can take your time, years even, before you have to cut it up further.

Michael Lewis
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Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Michael Lewis »

I'm not familiar with bark that rough associated with cherry. What sort of leaves does it have?

Cut to lengths (4'), halve or quarter with chain saw, seal the ends (I use glue like Titebond ), and put in a dry place out of the sun where air will circulate around it. Keep it well off the ground.

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Waddy Thomson
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Location: Charlotte, NC

Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Waddy Thomson »

I'm no expert, but most resawers I know would tell you to resaw it green and dry stickered and weighted down, to reduce end checking and cracking, and obtain more useable wood.

Seth Ellis
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:23 am

An Update

Post by Seth Ellis »

Thanks for all the information and suggestion. Here are some updates:

1. The bark is very difficult to remove. A spade did not work. It's not stiff enough to really cut through and get under the bark. The bark is tough so I bought a root cutter type spade blade thing on a handle at home depot for $14. It's stiff and sharp and does a good job. Still working on the bark. Several hours or bark removing in the hot sun and I'm spent.

2. I cut, barked, sealed and halved 2.5' log nearer the small end of the tree. The diameter is still about 15" but it looks like a branch next to the main trunk. I'll try it on the band saw next.

3. I'm sealing the ends with Elmer's White Glue. $12 a gallon. I looked at other options like latex, cement sealing latex, tar couldn't decide on which would work best and couldn't find anchor seal.

4. I'm also learning how to sharpen a chainsaw chain effectively. I'm not sure I'm getting it right. I've been watching youtube videos. Might need a larger file because it seems I'm only sharpening the side of the tooth rather than the underside of the front. I'll get it eventually.

Now to see how to get the large pieces on my trailer.

Seth Ellis
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:23 am

Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Seth Ellis »

Oh, I forgot. I'm pretty sure the tree is an eastern black cherry. Prunus serotina Ehrh. var. serotina? It's present in the right half of the US and British Columbia (not sure why it's just in BC but no where else on the west coast).

Cheers,
Seth

Mario Proulx
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Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Mario Proulx »

RE: sharpening chainsaws....

It's all about the "chrome" layer that is on top of the tooth. Nothing else matters. The chrome is what does the cutting. Where most folks fail is to not file away enough of the tooth to get back to full chrome across the tooth; when you leave even a bit of the steel showing, the tooth will wear instantly when you make the next cut, and you're back to a dull chain. Use a magnifying glass if you have trouble seeing the chrome layer.

As for files, every chain has a specific file diameter requirement! Do not use the wrong diameter file!

Finally, if you're doing the above correctly, then you may have forgotten to take down your "rakers"(forget the proper name for them) enough, or even, too much.

Randy Roberts
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Location: Omaha, NE (a suburb of Iowa)

Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Randy Roberts »

Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but if you are cutting your sections 2.5' long, You better be doing a good job of drying and only making parlors or ukes.

You want to end up with enough length for the sides of anything you might make out of this, and you have to assume you are going to have waste on each end of each log.

Chuck Tweedy
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Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

A lot of waste, not just an inch or two.
Likes to drink Rosewood Juice

Seth Ellis
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:23 am

Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Seth Ellis »

Thanks Mario. I have no idea what you are talking about, so I'll have to look into it. I have sharpened the chain and it seems to cut alright for about 5 min. then I'm struggling again, so I think I need to figure out what the chrome layer is.

Randy, the 2.5' length was only a test to see how barking and sawing goes on a smaller piece. It was up beyond where the tree splits into branches. Still large, but easier to load onto the trailer as a full round so I could take it home and saw it up.

Thanks for the encouragement everybody. It's really helpful. I've found it very hard getting out to the workshop to build anything in the past few years. First I had to build a workshop here, but then my motivation has just seemed shot and it's somehow psychologically hard to break this dry spell in my woodworking. It's good to have a project. When I was younger, I'd get into things irregardless of the amount of energy involved. I'm older, married, with a child, and my job has taken a toll on my creative juices the past few years so thinking about why I'm not doing woodworking or building guitars is kind of discouraging. Anyhow, this community really helps.

Steve Senseney
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:45 pm

Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Steve Senseney »

As you work the smaller pieces, you will fine the limits of your bandsaw.

One problems is how much you can lift and hold comfortably on the saw table.

Another is the depth of cut.

Another is the power your saw has. It may not be able to cut too deep if you have too little power.

One problem is getting your first cut on a round log. You need to be very steady to avoid letting it roll. If it catches and rolls, it may ruin your blade.

You can flatten a side by using a hand or power plane. You can cut the log with your chain saw. I have a hand held makita 4" planer, which works well to smooth out any really bad surfaces.

Another problem is getting a good straight cut. I use a snap line to lay out the first (and sometime other) cut. After this, I sometime use a fence to guide the cuts.

As you work each piece, you will try to guess which cut will produce the best board. You judge whether this will be used for a neck, side or back piece, or for some other wood working project.

There is a lot of thinking involved, and a lot of lifting and physical work.

Chuck Tweedy
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Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

I'm older, married, with a child, and my job has taken a toll on my creative juices the past few years
Welcome to the club!
The trick is to keep chipping away at it. Don't give up and don't feel pressure to complete a project by some deadline. That's how I've been able to keep at it.
Likes to drink Rosewood Juice

Dana Emery
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:11 pm
Location: Newcastle, PA

Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Dana Emery »

Sorry to join the party late, this is a favorite topic.

Drying for lumber (eg, big stuff, like necks) is more of a challenge than thinner stuff, you have to expect spoilage from end checks and allow more length. Cherry will have pitch pockets internally, these make spoilage that is hidden, especially bad for woodwind billets (yes, i understand you are doing strings).

Oak wedges and a sledge (or a wooden 'commander") might have been useful to quarter the bole for convenience in handling, a froe or a handsaw gets you started on one end; these wedges you cut onsite from limbs, or bring in seasoned oak. Wet wood will bruise, especially from metal wedges - not a problem for split-rails (fencing), but yes, an issue for tonewood. Cherry behaves a lot like soft maple, experiment with the limbs of any new wood to see how things go.Look for the books on working green wood at your library (ILL), also the videos for that PBS series (Woodrights shop?). Runout as you split can be a problem.

Dont ignore the limbs, larger ones may have useful curves for cornetti, and crotch figure can be a thing of beauty. When comes time to do the stump, that too can be a pretty thing, tho the sand and probable glass needs to be dealt with carefully (not good for either chainsaw or saw operator to cut into beer bottle enclosed by growing root).

Even if it all goes awrey, an excellent opportunity to learn.

Oh, keep the air circulating around the drying wood, and stack it high off the floor and away from walls. Dont want fungus, high humidity (as for viking-era boat timber) and low humidity (as for furniture or instrument wood) discourage fungus, its the in-between that is your challenge.

Seth Ellis
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:23 am

Re: Wild Cherry Log

Post by Seth Ellis »

Thanks Dana,

No problem on joining the party late. It's still a party for me. I've learned a lot on this log: how to sharpen a chain saw, what works for end sealer (Anchorseal) and what doesn't (white glue), and that I shouldn't forget there is a trailer on my car.

That last one is humiliating. I was rushing due to a coming trip and forgot my trailer was on my Sub. so I handily jackknifed it destroying the tongue wheel and putting a hole in my bumper.

Right now the quarters are in 4-5 foot lengths. I've got about 12 quarters; 8 are nice. 4 have center rot that might go quite deep. I'm going to try and get some of the limbs for turning, but I have been away for 10 days, so I don't know what the condition is on these now.

As far as drying goes, it's really hot and humid here in MD. My carport is very hot and very humid. No air vent in the top and not insulated. Right now, the wood is in there sitting off the floor on 2x4s. Sounds like fungus is worse in humid climates?

My next project might be Locust. There are several decent sized trees coming down at school that the maintenance guy told me about. Could be good for bridges & fingerboards. Very hard and dense and practically rot proof so I've heard.

Best,
Seth

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