Hope you are all well, and enjoying your winter.
I was working in the dry kiln late last fall when a logger friend of mine stopped by. He was logging out a campground when he backed up into a maple tree with his skidder which caused the bark to come off the tree.
He wanted me to come out on a field trip out into the woods and take a gander at it. Here is what I saw. I know what you are thinking, " that looks pretty nasty". The dirt wasn't what was bothering me though. What was bothering me is that many, to most, of the time a log exhibits stong curl on the outside of the tree, but fades out as the tree is sawn into a cant. So the figure you see on the outside of the log is not always what you see on the inside of the log. Here is what I saw in the woods.
So far so good on this log but let's digress from the subject at hand for a minute. Figured logs are ALWAYS more figured toward the sap (bark) side of the tree as I mentioned above. There is a good trick for you guys that work with figured lumber, and aren't quite sure which side is your best face. Look at your board from the end. The surface that has the convexed grain lines pointing towards it will be your more figured face. The concaved grain lines are pointing to the trees heart, or the less figured face since figure usually fades toward the inside of the tree.
Here is what the convexed grain lined face looks like:
Now let's look at the "concaved" grain line surface. AKA the back side of the billet:
You will notice ( aside from the misspelling of concaved) that the curl on this side of the billet is less pronounced than the front. This is taken from exactly the other side of the billet as the "front" picture. So what you see on the outside of the log is not always what you see on the inside.
Now back to the problem at hand. Is this log worth the $180.00 the logger was asking for it? I could buy it, cut it, and have 180 bd ft of plain maple. How do you know if it's curly all the way through? Actually it's not to hard to find out. Pull out the Husqvarna and cut off a slab! You guys get to work with detail sanders and precision inlays etc. My end is chainsaws and sawmill blades that could cut your car into two. This is what happens when you do not have woodworking talent, but like to work with wood. You work on the heavy end of the business. Back to the slab. You have to cut it thin. Why, you ask? Because you have to be able to break it. Not cut it, break it. Cutting it will leave it too rough to see the figure. A nice clean break won't.
That's what I am looking for. The log he had for me was 20' long. This slab is taken all the way at the skinny end. If it's curly this far up the tree then the butt end of the log will even be better! Look closely, it's curly almost to the heartwood.
Next blog we will see what it looks like as we cut it, and what it looks like kiln dried and milled out to where you guys can actually use it for something beautiful! We still aren't out of the woods yet on this log, so to speak. It can be riddled with ambrosia beetle streaks, bark inclusions, wind shake, or numerous other defects. The fun never ends. Heck, just read my two previous blogs on the giant ash burl.
Thanks for reading.
Owner and Operator
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