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Milling trees - Charger68 - 08-27-2019

I have a friend that just had several walnut and maple trees cut down on his property.  He asked me if I wanted any of the wood.  Here is a picture of the pile.

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I don't know if the logs are wide enough to yield good lumber.  Here is a closeup of one of the larger walnut logs.  The dark area is approximately 8-10 inches in diameter.  

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My question is how large does a log have to be to make it worthwhile to get it milled?  There are about 4-5 10 foot long walnut logs that are about this wide.  There are also some silver maple logs that are about 12-14 inches in diameter.  I am concerned that I could go through all this work and end up with mostly sticks.

RE: Milling trees - jteneyck - 08-27-2019

If you or a friend has a mill then sure, you'll get some usable lumber.  But if you had a mill you likely wouldn't be asking, so let's start from there.  If you want live edge slabs from the walnut, or you like sapwood, you will get some nice size boards from logs like in your photo.  But if you want heartwood only then it's a waste of time.  The Doyle scale shows there is 76 BF of lumber in a 15" diameter log 10' long, but only 16 BF in one 9" in diameter.  


RE: Milling trees - Duane N - 08-27-2019

I had a Willow Oak milled up and the guy charged $100/hr plus $20 if he any steel/nails while milling the tree.  The base of the Oak weighed 4,000 lbs by his calculations and was 34" in diameter and I had three sections milled up totaling about 32' of the center of the tree.  It cost me $400 to have it milled up all said and done.  Would I do it again...not with an Oak tree like I had done.  I do have some 8' 5/4 slabs of Oak 22" wide still on the drying rack I haven't found a use for.

It was a great learning experience for me but next time I have this done it will be done on a Pecan tree 36" at the base...it's my neighbors tree and it's leaning after a hurricane a few years ago...we're waiting for it to fall. 

Depending on how much per hour the mill charges is a big factor.  The smaller trees will mill up quickly but I'm not sure how much you would get out of logs that size.

RE: Milling trees - TomFromStLouis - 08-27-2019

We don’t saw anything under ~16” diameter at the small end and local mills won’t buy anything smaller either. Bowl turners and spoon carvers are not as limited.

RE: Milling trees - jcousins2 - 08-27-2019

from the pic of the pile it looks like most of the pieces are small diameter and small heartwood -  i would say not really worth milling. but as someone mentioned maybe more usable for bowl tuners.

RE: Milling trees - BrokenOlMarine - 08-27-2019

If you make boxes, cutting boards, or any smaller projects, take all you can get.  A friend gave me a dozen black walnut logs several years ago, smaller than those, and I stacked them to dry.  Last year another member here took a half day, and came by and cut them to 18" lengths, I spent several days running them thru my band saw mill.  I have turned out some beautiful projects bookmatching the burled black walnut, crotch sections, and the nicely grained slabs.

I cut molding, trim, accent pieces, and walnut boxes.

Yup, take it, stack it, you never know.

Big Grin

RE: Milling trees - Stwood_ - 08-27-2019

12" and up is what they mill around here, and at 12" you'll end up with a lot of narrow boards and a lot of heartwood. Anything less goes for firewood or bowl turning stock.
And walnut doesn't make real good firewood. It's better than nothing but......

RE: Milling trees - EdL - 08-27-2019

When having logs milled, IME, it's best to have ones lumber cut at 5/4 thick x a width you can process.

Exceptions being a planned project that needs slabs or thicker/wider stock.

Don't know how many times I've heard "that size sounded good at the time, I've never found a use for it".

Slabs are cool! Drying, handling and processing is a pita, unless you have a use for them.

A long gone sawyer once told me, "boy, they make glue for a reason".

I literally have a ton of walnut in my barn (belongs to a friend) that was milled into such bas-tard sizes it's pathetic. Re-sawing into 4/4 stock would be a long hard road and create probably 40% waste.


RE: Milling trees - ianab - 08-27-2019

I'd mess with logs that size if they were walnut. 

Personally I'd just get them sawed "thru n thru" into 1-2" live edge slabs like John suggests. and stack them up to dry. Once they dry you can sort thru them and work around any cracks or holes etc. Be aware there will be a lot of white sapwood on each piece, so keep that in mind for what you want to use it for. The contrast can look great in the right project. 

Commercial mills have different criteria for their logs as they have to meet grading rules, and keep up productivity. Small logs hurt both, so they basically don't wont them. 

And yes I've sawed 4x1 boards out a 6" cedar "logs" before. I'm glad I wasn't being paid by the bd/ft because that would be hard going. But I get 4 or 5 boards out what looks like a fence post, and they make good ship-lap panelling for a bookcase or toy box.

RE: Milling trees - Charger68 - 08-28-2019

Thanks for all the advice.  I'm going to call a guy with a portable saw mill and see what he will charge to go through the stack and cut every log over 8" into slabs.  The rest will be cut for firewood.