Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Harvesting The Tree


The remains of our huge oak tree has been lying in our front yard since it fell in the weird Derecho storm in July.  In early August when we came home from our trip to Alaska (which I still have to share with you ... more patience, please), we hired a crew to cut off the limbs, grind the stump, and remove all the debris. 


 
 
 

On my instructions, the crew left behind a long section of the trunk, a shorter section of trunk, and a large limb.  My hope was to find someone who could mill these parts into boards to be made into something one day.  It's almost like a real life case of 'your wish is my command', because Ferguson Custom Sawmill came riding in last week with their portable sawmill and made my wish come true.




While Kyle and his helper David worked, I took photos ... no big surprise, right.  I tried to do my best to show the job of slabbing our huge log from start to finish.  It was an all-day process, fascinating to watch as they worked.  As they finished for the day, I gave Kyle a cd containing all of my photos.  He was grateful, because he obviously can't get photos of the two of them working WHILE they're both working unless they have someone else there to take them.  I was happy to oblige ... Kyle is a nice young man ...  and he has this great new business to promote.

This is how it went:

Here is Kyle, using the circular saw head to true-up the top of the log.
 
 
 
Changing to the chainsaw head for the rest of the job.

 


 
They cut the log into precise 3" slabs.



 
Two down, lots more to go.



They set wedges in the saw cut as they worked, to keep the kerf open so the blade wouldn't bind.
 



The slabs were WAY too heavy to move by hand, so they used straps and the tractor to transport them to the pile.
 





Now they're getting to the center of the log, where there was some rot at the bottom.
 



Sawdust flew like this all day.
 



This log is 40 inches wide at this point!
 



Slow and steady, the guys work carefully as they finish this cut.
 


The slabs with rot are supported on that end during transport with a 6-foot steel bar, to spread the stress of the carrying strap and prevent the slab from splitting down its length.
 




 
Such lovely grain in this old white oak tree!
 



Even though that center slab has the most rot of any of them, it still has a LOT of usable wood.
 



They're getting to the bottom of the log now.  Look at all that sawdust!
 



There goes the last slab!
 



What an impressive pile of wood!
 



This tree has been a part of our property since the beginning, and now it can live on INSIDE the house as furniture ... after its drying period in the barn, of course.
 


I still mourn this tree ... it was such a dominant feature in our front yard, and I haven't gotten used to the emptiness that is there now.  Now I have hope, though, to replace the feeling of tragedy and loss.  This pile of huge slabs of wood represents our tree's next phase of life.  It's under a tarp in the front yard right now, but we will soon stack it under cover in the barn, where it will sit and dry for a year or two ... until it's ready to be used to make some sort of furniture ... a dining table, perhaps, large and round with enough leaves to make it long enough to seat a LOT of people.  Wouldn't that be grand!

(These photos and MANY more are in an album on the Ferguson Custom Sawmill page on Facebook.  Kyle took the time to caption most of them, thoroughly describing the process of turning our log into usable slabs.  Click HERE to see them.)

27 comments:

  1. Connie, I am so glad you shared this. The process was fascinating to watch, and wow so much work. I commend your effort to preserve this piece of history, and I know there will be something special after the wait.

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  2. My goodness am I super jealous! Those are some awesome wood planks... Can't wait to see what you make of them... Very exciting and such a wonderful story! - Susan

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  3. Connie that is a perfect way to keep the tree! So sad to see such old trees come down but this is a great idea. Love all the photos, fascinating process.
    hugs, Linda

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  4. What a great idea, keeping the wood for another chapter in its life. I'm sure you will come up with something beautiful in a couple years when it's ready.

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  5. Very cool, and that wood will make gorgeous furniture, mantels, flooring...whatever you heart can imagine!

    Kat

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  6. Hope I'm still blogging in a couple of years and get to see what this wood transforms itself into. A great looking table amongst other things. Thanks for sharing this with us, Connie!

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  7. Very cool!!! Can't wait to see what it turns into! One day... :)

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  8. Connie : this is fascinating ~ To salvage that wonderful old oak is, in your word, grand. Thank you for posting the process. I felt like I was there. Great job on your part too documenting it all.

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  9. You are SO lucky to be able to cut this tree into pieces that you can use to create family heirlooms - I know you'll come up with some wonderful pieces and ideas - you always do :) (And boo to having to wait to the two years, but alas, you must.)

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  10. What an interesting process! As a worry wart, I would have been harping the entire time, for them to wear protection from that saw dust!

    I'm so glad you were able to salvage that beautiful wood!!!

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  11. Great post with all the pictures. That was a magnificent tree. Hope to see what the wood becomes in the future.♥♫

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  12. this is amazing! I didn't know you could do this. I had a favorite tree I used to watch the seasons change through for years...and it died a few years ago. It was on our local elementary school property and one day they cut it down. I do still mourn that tree every Fall :/ Thanks for sharing this story!

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  13. I'm still mourning that tree along with you!!!..... so sad when the big ones go.

    Not that I'm trying to be a downer here...lol.. sorry.

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  14. What a fascinating procedure, Connie! I had no idea that there were companies out there that would come to your house to do that. I can only imagine the beautiful things you and hubby will create with those slabs of history. :) They will become a treasured heirloom, I'm sure. :)

    xoxo laurie

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  15. A wonderful story....how I wish we had done something similar with oak we had to take down at the sight of our old barn....but...if we did that with every humongous tree we had to drop or dropped on its own.....well suffice it to say we would be completely overwhelmed! I hope one day you and Steve will come and be our guests.....

    XXOO
    Cyd

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  16. Facinating, just facinating. Can't wait to see what becomes of that fine old tree, it will be worth the wait to find out. I hope you have a dry winter to speed up the drying process. Happy Fall!

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  17. Hi Connie, So glad you were able to save some of this beautiful tree. I know you miss it but I agree that having something made from it will help heal the wound. I enjoy your blog so much.

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  18. Thank you, Anne. Saving a portion of this tree has, indeed, helped with the healing. (BTW, it's folks like you who make blogging fun.)

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  19. This is the coolest thing I've ever seen! And what a fabulous job you did of documenting the process. I'll bet you're your sawmill guy's favorite client ever.

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  20. That.was.the COOLEST.thing.to share!
    At least from the perspective of THIS woodworker!
    And I might add--I would love to get my hands on some of those planks--I love the live edges!
    Catherine
    btw-there's a shop here in my mom's town called "After the Tree!"
    Cool, huh?!?

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  21. Connie -- I totally understand how you can mourn the loss of your tree -- we have certainly experienced that hee at our house. Your idea tosave the wood for future use is ingenious -- now I am getting excited to see what you use it for someday. THAT was all such a huge job --documented well in all of the photos!

    Vicki

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  22. How wonderful!!! I can' t wait to see what you build with these. I know it will be something spectacular and filled with love for an old friend.

    Janet xox
    The Empty Nest

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  23. How wonderful!!! I can' t wait to see what you build with these. I know it will be something spectacular and filled with love for an old friend.

    Janet xox
    The Empty Nest

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  24. How very interesting! So glad that you decided to save the tree so that it could be transformed into some lovely furniture pieces. Three-inch slabs...that's some thick wood!!

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  25. Oh the possibilities with that much choice oak! I can envision the table now. It will be a beautiful tribute to that lovely oak tree... whatever it becomes.

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  26. How brilliant you are to have remembered to take pictures! I always remember, after the event is over.

    I get so nervous watching guys with giant mechanical things that cut stuff. I mean, most men I know can't cut up an apple properly with a fruit knife -- so seeing them wield giant sawing things makes me want to hide.

    A dining table sounds like the perfect choice for the wood, once it has dried and is workable. How terrific to know that the oak didn't lose its life in vain. If it can gather friends and family to it for celebrations -- now that's a fitting end.

    All the best -- Cass

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  27. So struck by how you'll be continuing the life of this tree, now inside your home. Really wonderful.

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