Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

567
Banjo Lovers Online


Nov 27, 2020 - 1:06:56 PM
like this
13331 posts since 6/29/2005

We had some very large red maple trees too close to the house cut down a couple of days ago—a job for professionals, which required a large bucket truck and a chipper, and it took a half a day to cut each one down.

One that was standing dead, and leaning towards my sister-in-law's house was probably 80 feet tall with all the branches.—lumbermen call trees like these "widow-makers" because the top can crack off from the vibration of the chain saw and fall straight down on the person below.

Once the top had been cut off and the tree cut down, we had a log that was 17"-18" diameter and 40 feet long, tapering to 12" diameter at the top, which we had to pull out in  three sections with log chains and a pickup truck.  I was thinking firewood

BUT

Lo and behold, it was curly—one in a thousand. here are some pics of sections of the log, and the end grain is quite remarkable:

hard to photograph, and it doesn't look like much in this state, part of it having split down the middle, but you could see the curly figure.

It's not spalted or even slightly rotten—it's solid as a rock.  My son and I cut some samples to see what we had:

It appears that the tree during its life absorbed some minerals from the ground that stained the wood all the way up—I repeat, this is not spalting.

The samples we made and planed on the jointer reveal this to be the most remarkable curly maple log I have ever seen in  terms of color.

I have never seen anything like it, and my Brother-in law, here for Thanksgiving, who is a tree expert and woodworking scholar, has never seen anything like it, either.

Tomorrow, we will be sawing this if we can get the sawmill started, and will document the whole process—at this point we don't know exactly how we will approach it, but will probably do 4-6 foot sections and see what we get.

More pictures tomorrow,

Nov 27, 2020 - 1:34:46 PM
likes this

DRH

USA

584 posts since 5/29/2018

I call dibbs on the first long-neck open back from this tree;)**




** Subject to DW's blessing.

Nov 27, 2020 - 1:49:09 PM

5546 posts since 12/20/2005

What a momentous find. Kind of like Thanksgiving and Christmas on the same day.
There will be treasures made from this unique piece of nature.
It could not have found it's way to better hands.

Nov 27, 2020 - 2:17:51 PM
like this

2244 posts since 2/7/2008

Awesome find, Ken.

Now you have to give it a catchy name like “the mineral tree” thus quadrupling it’s value!

Edited by - Quickstep192 on 11/27/2020 14:18:26

Nov 27, 2020 - 2:59:35 PM

RBuddy

America Samoa

1589 posts since 7/2/2007

Hi Ken

Nice looking maple. It is interesting that the curl is so visible where the bark came off. Sometimes the curl even telegraphs through the bark and you can occasionally tell even in a living tree that it's curly if you look closely.

I always thought it crazy that color in the heartwood of maple is considered a defect and it gets rejected at the mill. Loggers tend to get excited when they see a log with a dark heart the size of a pencil. I'm just the opposite.

I always liked it and save it as more interesting visually. Usually in the drying process the browns, reds and golds fade to a grayish lighter brown when the moisture goes away but I still prefer it even over curly red maple w/o the color. Same thing happens in curly and birds eye hard maple.

I find a lot of curly red maple around my house and have rescued a lot from the wood stove too. Curly maple, hard and soft, are probably my favorite domestic woods.

Nice find!

Nov 27, 2020 - 3:24:16 PM

rcc56

USA

3268 posts since 2/20/2016

I hope that you will quarter-saw everything, and cut it in lengths sufficient for building guitars and cellos.
I would like to see what it looks like under colored varnish.

Nov 27, 2020 - 3:37:37 PM

7878 posts since 1/7/2005

Congratulations on the wood. It sure looks promising. I would have guessed it was spalted, but it doesn't exactly fit that profile.
If you look up "ambrosia maple" you'll see some wood that looks similar. Not spalted, but the result of beetle activity.
It sure looks pretty. I would do a quick pass on a jointer or planer and wipe it with some thinned shellac to get a better idea of the potential. You might need to have it kiln dried if you intend to use it in this lifetime. :->

Years ago I visited my great-grand-uncle who was a retired farmer Minnesota. He showed me a table that he had recently made out of an elm tree that he had planted 80 years earlier. The tree had succumbed to dutch elm disease, so he had to cut it down and put it to good use.

DD

Nov 27, 2020 - 4:10:44 PM
like this

67 posts since 5/27/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Quickstep192

Awesome find, Ken.

Now you have to give it a catchy name like “the mineral tree” thus quadrupling it’s value!


Yes, plus a fascinating "scientific backstory."  Clearly, this remarkable tree could only grow in lacustrine outwash soils having a pH of between 5.7 and 5.9, in a former bog, at an elevation between 1,100 and 1,250 feet above mean sea level, and in the mid-Atlantic Appalachian region.  Statistically, this one one of only 10 possible trees in the world having these qualities (the other 9, sadly, were cut decades ago).  The particular mineral content increases the speed of sound waves through the wood, so any banjo made from it will have unparalled "attack," prolonged sustain, and rich even-order harmonics unobtainable from any other lumber of any species.  It should really go for $50/bf.  wink

But seriously, this looks like some pretty beautiful lumber.  Unfortunately, I believe Ken air-dries his wood, so I expect it will be a minimum of a year (probably two) before we see a banjo made out of this.

Edited by - Uke-alot on 11/27/2020 16:15:13

Nov 27, 2020 - 4:45:02 PM
likes this

56460 posts since 12/14/2005

Time and again, I warned the dog not to sniff at a running chain saw, but would he LISTEN???

HdevilLL NO!

And, the results were predictable, as seen in the middle  photo!

Nov 27, 2020 - 4:48:59 PM
likes this

rcc56

USA

3268 posts since 2/20/2016

Mike, it might be time for you to go to your workbench and whittle for a while . . .  wink

Nov 27, 2020 - 4:51:29 PM
Players Union Member

kwl

USA

560 posts since 3/5/2009

That's some beautiful wood there Ken. I can't wait to see what you do with it, but I know it will take some time for you to dry it.

Nov 27, 2020 - 5:20:29 PM
likes this

56460 posts since 12/14/2005

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

Mike, it might be time for you to go to your workbench and whittle for a while . . .  wink             

 

 

IF you INSIST!

But only for a wittle while!


Nov 27, 2020 - 5:39:33 PM

10998 posts since 10/27/2006

Is this the maple equivalent of The Log?

Nov 27, 2020 - 9:49:58 PM

rcc56

USA

3268 posts since 2/20/2016

So far, I've heard "The Log" applied to at least three different species of wood on at least half a dozen brands of instruments . . .

Whatever you do with that very nice tree, Ken, please don't call it "The Log," "The Tree,"  or "The [anything else]."  I'm getting awful tired of the ever-accelerating pile of marketing boozh-wah.

Edited by - rcc56 on 11/27/2020 22:03:19

Nov 28, 2020 - 5:08:36 AM

13331 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

So far, I've heard "The Log" applied to at least three different species of wood on at least half a dozen brands of instruments . . .

Whatever you do with that very nice tree, Ken, please don't call it "The Log," "The Tree,"  or "The [anything else]."  I'm getting awful tired of the ever-accelerating pile of marketing boozh-wah.


Not sure what you guys are referring to, but I promise I won't call it "the log"—by the end of the weekend, we hope it will be a stack of boards anyway.

We took the broken sawmill dog to a welder yesterday and  got it repaired, so if all goes well the sawmill will work.

My son wants to make some through neck electric basses with live edges if possible, so that will be one consideration.  I, of course, want a lot of neck blanks and outer and inner rim and resonator slats, and if I hit a nice section, will make some thin slices to be bookmatched and used for banjo lutes, and possibly a guitar, so it will be interesting.  We are not going to attempt any long boards because they're harder to saw and are of no use for instruments, anyway.  Probably 4-5-6 foot sections on the sawmill.

Nov 28, 2020 - 5:49:32 AM

2244 posts since 2/7/2008

Ken,

I case you're not familiar with the wood sources that have gained notoriety in recent years, there have been logs called "lucky strike", "the tree" and others. I suppose their cache is deserved as they are remarkable woods, but that has also driven their prices through the roof. Here's an example:

stewmac.com/tonewoods/wood-by-...KjiPD_BwE

Nov 28, 2020 - 5:56:43 AM

13331 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Quickstep192

Ken,

I case you're not familiar with the wood sources that have gained notoriety in recent years, there have been logs called "lucky strike", "the tree" and others. I suppose their cache is deserved as they are remarkable woods, but that has also driven their prices through the roof. Here's an example:

stewmac.com/tonewoods/wood-by-...KjiPD_BwE


Thanks!  Now I get it—I think I saw this type of thing in a Taylor catalog in a doctor's waiting room.

I certainly don't want to participate in the wood "branding" mania.

Nov 28, 2020 - 6:27:22 AM

3925 posts since 5/12/2010

Very interesting maple.

I cut a lot of red maples on this place because the leaves are dangerous to livestock.

One I cut down near the creek had color much like that but did not have the curly figure. What you show would certainly make a beautiful back for a lute, guitar, or fiddle.

Almost as pretty as the picture you recently sent me!

Nov 28, 2020 - 2:29:33 PM

13331 posts since 6/29/2005

Not wanting to continue on with "the log", as I realize this is not a good idea, BUT, There are always threads about "I have this tree or limb, and how do I cut it up", so I will show how we are doing this—granted, we have a small sawmill so we are lucky, but if you were to hire someone to come to your site with a "Wood Mizer" OTE, you have to tell them how to cut up the log.

SO,

Here are some pictures—first of all, skidding the log with a log chain to get it to where the sawmill is—these logs can weigh tons, so we cut them to shorter lengths—4-5 feet is all you need for banjos—below is a picure of part of the log that split down the middle, which is a real sawing challenge we are still discussing.

So we get it to the sawmill, and you begin to square it—the end-grain on this log is unusual we make the first cut and you can see the relationship between the end-grain and how that plays out in the board:

So we make a couple of cuts (my son is pushing the sawmill), and we are able to make some very thin slabs we can use for bookmatched banjo lute backs and sides —once again, see the relationship between the end grain and the board. in the bottom picture the consecutive slats are less then 1/4" and will eventually be backs and sides for banjo lutes—miles to go before they are seasoned.

Once the boards are cut off the sides of the logs, we wind up making neck boards, which have to be around 7" wide M/L and are cut in a symmetrical way in order to glue up the neck blanks bookmatched—there will be a quarter figure on the necks if we do it right—this is very important.

 

After we cut the boards, and we made a number of 2" thick ones with live edges my son will use for his basses—you just have to have a plan about how you want to do the sawing.

We put the sawn boards under sheet metal, which will become a "poor man's dry kiln" in the summer and accelerate the drying.

The crotches and bad p-arts are firewood—nothing wasted.

What you see in these pictures is one day's work, and around 1/4 of this tree.

Ken

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 11/28/2020 14:33:43

Nov 28, 2020 - 2:36:51 PM

1536 posts since 1/13/2006

Beautiful maple Ken, congrats, that kind of thing is always exciting to a wood guy. Timely, as the same day you posted my buddy (and next door neighbor) showed me a really interesting red maple tree with incredible burls and figure that we are stewing over how to cut up. I love the color on yours. A good problem to have, look forward to seeing how it looks as a banjo.

Nov 28, 2020 - 6:41:03 PM

8032 posts since 8/28/2013

Please be very careful choosing what to make with this wood, and how to make it. You'll probably never find a tree with wood so unusual and lovely, and you shouldn't use it on anything where it doesn't show.

I would suggest simple designs, as the wood will provide all the "fanciness'" required.

Nov 30, 2020 - 12:38:43 PM

13331 posts since 6/29/2005

No pictures today, but my son went back to Philadelphia yesterday and the weather prediction looked bad, so I had to get the sections of the log we didn't saw "under wraps" so to speak.

When you cut up a maple log, there is a limited time in which to do it—as long as you keep them off the ground, a cherry log or an oak log will last for years before you saw it, but maple logs start to spalt and turn blue/gray very quickly.  I think (but I don't know for sure) that it's some sugar in the maple sap that causes the quick decay—you can smell it.

You have to paint the ends, and do the sawing right away, then get the boards covered up by (preferably) sheet metal roofing or in a shed where they can sit for a couple of years.

I had to work fast, by myself, laid two short green logs on the ground 4 feet apart, put a tarp on them, then dragged all the log sections there with the truck, and rolled them up onto the tarp with a peavy and shale bar so they were off off the ground—no mean feat since a 6 foot section weighs many hundreds of pounds and I had to move 4 sections, then pulled the other end of the tarp over them—this is stopgap because it's going to snow this week.  I really have to get them cut up and properly stored as soon as I can.

If it suddenly snows a lot and freezes, which it's likely to do in December, I may have to wait until spring, which I don't want to do, but off the ground wrapped in a tarp is much better than having them on the ground covered with snow all winter—I know they would suffer from that.

I also have a very green red maple tree 16"Ø, with straight grain lying on the ground, that I will use for firewood next winter, but I plan to cut a couple of 4-foot sections where there aren't any knots, and make a lot of rim slats—you absolutely can't have any spalting or other defects if you are going to steam bend.

Nov 30, 2020 - 2:49:04 PM

7878 posts since 1/7/2005

Reminds me of when I was a kid, growing up in Southern California. We would run out to the desert and hunt for geodes. It was always exciting to break them open and see what was hiding inside.

I find that special, figured wood kick-starts me into doing my best work.

DD

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.296875