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Thread: Should I mill a large sycamore tree?

  1. #1

    Should I mill a large sycamore tree?

    I have a large sycamore tree I am going to have taken down. It is approximately 80' tall and 4 wide at the base. It is growing at an angle (towards my house) and I am wondering if it would be worth having it milled. From what I understand, sycamore can be hard to keep straight during drying and adding that it is growing at an angle makes me think it might make it even worse. Anyone with more experience have any comments on this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Vancouver Canada
    Opinion only: for what it's worth.
    I have a bunch of elm that's wind blown and I've chainsaw milled and made some little bits of furniture from it. Diabolical tear out (sapwood) splitting and the like - but my project has had everyone who saw it tell me it looks great.
    If I was taking down a tree, I would get a specialized on call urban miller to come by and cut it, and slice it.
    On YouTube there are many videos of how to set up planks for drying and keeping them almost flat. Use end sealer to minimize checking.
    It'll take a while to get it ready but I'm sure you will be happy with the possibilities.
    Young enough to remember doing it;
    Old enough to wish I could do it again.

  3. #3
    I believe Sycamore is traditionally used as a secondary wood. However, it has great ray fleck when quartersawn. I donít recall any trouble with drying it the last time we milled a log. But, if itís growing at an angle itís going have lots of stress wood. And itís probably better to not waste your time on this one.

  4. #4
    Definitely worth milling - QUARTERSAWN. Quartersawn sycamore is the poor man's lacewood. Really spectacular grain pattern.

    Nothing is idiot-proof for a sufficiently ingenious idiot!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Crown Point, Indiana
    Yes, quarter sawn Sycamore is fantastic and I love using it.

  6. #6
    When you stack the lumber, be sure to use considerable weight on top.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    is it leaning enough to make stressed wood if so you might have to keep the lengths around 8 ft. but to have a tree that big being to quarter saw ,the extra waste would not be a big deal certainly worth it. I hope the center is good for you too. I like it for bowl turning also, if you got a lathe.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Los Angeles
    As others have said, quartersawn sycamore can be spectacular.
    You could get some great wood from that tree but as you know you're going to have to spend some money having it felled and milled.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    New Hill, NC
    We quartersaw a lot of sycamore. It tends to move a bit during drying when flatsawn, but stays relatively flat when QSíd.

    What I would suggest is having 2 - 4 live edge slabs milled from the center of the log (milled at 2-1/2Ē to 3Ē thick green), and then quartersaw the remaining log 1/3ís by using the ďreverse RollĒ method. The medullary rays can be quite stunning.

    Usually we mill it into a combination of 5/4 and 8/4 lumber.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Huntington, Vermont

    Is the "reverse roll" method that shown in the bottom of post #3 entitled "alternate quartersawing" in this link ?

    Can you tell me why platanus occidentalis is also known as buttonwood?

  11. #11
    Thanks for all your advice! I met with a guy to fall the tree. Looks like we will wait until the leaves fall and it will come down. I have decided to have it milled. Just need to find someone with a portable mill. I assume that the lower section of the tree will need to be chainsaw milled sue to size but should make some excellent slabs.

  12. #12
    Take a close look at the bark if that tree is leaning it may have a twist.

    I had a large sycamore milled that we discovered had a twist through the whole tree, which explained why the 1/4 sawing wasn't going well.

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