Chillin’ and Millin’

I’ve lived across the street from a WWI era elementary school for a decade now. The town has decided to tear it down and replace it. As a part of the process, they cut down all trees on the property.

Over the years, I have developed a habit of asking if I can have felled wood from storms or projects like this. In this case, the construction team obliged and gave me all of the trunks!

This pile is around 80 feet long, 20 feet deep and 15 feet high (at the peak)

Daughter providing scale. The trunk at the bottom had a diameter of 36 inches

For a while, I bucked and split the wood for firewood, but some of the trunks had a higher calling – two nice sections of sugar maple, 14 foot in length and 24 inches in diameter and a Norway maple of similar length, 36 inches in diameter.

I brought in Rob Swanson from New England Portable Sawmill. Rob really knows his stuff and is a hard worker. We spent a full day milling boards out of the best tree trunks.The last trunk we did was the most impressive. There were many branches on the Norway maple and each revealed a curly figure near the crotches.

These dark streaks disappeared as the wood dried but I bet they will come back when we add oils to finished pieces. These were cut to 1.5″ thickness. In retrospect, we should have cut to 2″ because the wood shrinks and warps and the usable lumber is the square and straight part.
We hit a nail in the middle of the tree. It dulled the sawmill blade; essentially ruining it. To account for this risk, we cut a piece 3″ thick. It would make a nice mantle or counter.

For now, the firewood shed is full with around 8 cords of firewood and the wood is drying out in this hot summer weather. Assuming 1 year per inch of thickness, the thinner pieces should be ready to work this winter. I have a few projects in mind:

  • Cutting boards
  • Bowls and plates
  • A Roubo workbench
  • A bed
  • An armoire
  • A desk
  • Face frames, doors and panels for cabinets

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