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Thread: Quarter Sawing Red Oak

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    WNY
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    Quarter Sawing Red Oak

    My arborist friend was removing a 29" diameter red oak that blew down in a big wind storm we had a couple of weeks ago. Miraculously, it mostly missed a camp and some outbuildings and fell right on the road between them. The bottom of the trunk was pretty rotten, which is likely why it came down, but the top 20 feet of the main trunk were solid so he called to ask if I wanted it. Yes, of course, thank you, but I'm not sure I can transport them as my trailer only has a 2000 lb capacity and each of these 8' logs were going to come in around 2300 lbs. No worries, he said, we'll have a good sized trailer and a Bobcat to load them with. Wow, terrific, thank you.

    Here he is getting the second log up onto the back of the trailer.



    And then lifting and pushing it on.




    They dumped the logs on my lawn and I tried picking one up with my log dolly, only to have the 2000 lb winch strip out. I have a two line set up on it so it should be able to pick up a lot more than 2300 lbs but it failed. OK, now what? My mill has a 30" diameter limit so I knew it was going to be a bear to handle it anyway, so I decided to quarter the log first with my chainsaw. Of course that wasn't the easiest task but I got it done. I had forgotten how heavy that 85 cc saw with a 28" bar is but remembered pretty fast after 15 or 20 minutes. Anyway, with a new winch on the log dolly I transported the quarters out to my mill and set about trying to rig them for quarter sawing. It wasn't all that hard.





    I have a winch to roll logs up onto the mill. It worked equally well to drag the log quarter up the ramps. Once on the deck I used it to rotate the quarter against the back support, using a plywood gage cut at 45 to tell me when it was positioned properly. The log clamps had no trouble keeping it in the right orientation. I took a few boards off the top, then rotated the remaining section of the quarter onto that flat face before cutting the rest of the boards.




    Pretty easy all in all. More to follow.

    John

  2. #2
    Yes, please. more pics.

    What thickness?

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    To rotate the logs I use a cant hook on the end of my winch cable, an idea I stole from Norwood who probably stole it from someone else. Regardless, it works great.



    After the quarter is locked in place I skim off the sapwood at the top and then take a couple of 8/4 cuts. There's a lot of waste here because of the taper, and that explains why quarter sawn wood is so expensive. I leave the tapered edges on until after the wood is dry and I go to use it because maybe I'll find a use for it. These first cuts give you some nice rift sawn grain.






    Then I flip the piece over so the cut face is down and repeat the process. After those first two 8/4 cuts I switch to 5/4 or 4/4. As you get closer to the centerline the grain becomes more quarter sawn; and the two cuts around the centerline truly are. If you thought red oak didn't have ray flecks it's probably because you just never saw it. Not many people quarter saw red oak, but it has some lovely if more subtle ray fleck compared to white oak.





    The 3 or 4 boards around the center end up about 12" wide after you cut away the pith. This from a log that was 28 - 29" with the bark, so maybe 26 - 27" w/o the bark. There's an inch of sapwood to cut away but I'll still get some true quarter sawn boards over 10" wide.

    If you think woodworking can be addictive do not start milling your own wood. It's another slippery slope.

    John

  4. #4
    Doubt I will ever get to that slippery slope, but I thank you for sharing. Real interesting post!

  5. #5
    I recently did the same thing, quartered up a red oak that was too big to move way back in the woods (I don't recommend it unless as a last resort). Can't wait to get them on the mill, I'll probably try to get 4x6s for swing set legs for the kids.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
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    Looks like it was definately worth the effort!! Logrite sells replacement hooks for cant hooks, that you can make the log roller, with a chain out of, if you don't want to have to borrow the hook off another tool.

  7. #7
    Really interesting post, John. Thanks for showing us the process!

    How will you dry those boards?
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  8. #8
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    Mar 2003
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    San Francisco, CA
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    9,155
    That sure is lovely lumber.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frederick Skelly View Post
    Really interesting post, John. Thanks for showing us the process!

    How will you dry those boards?
    Thanks. I usually sticker and air dry lumber first, and then put it in my kiln to bring it down to 7%. Before last year I had a shop built dehumidification kiln in my basement shop. But last year I got rid of it to reclaim my shop and built a solar kiln.



    It will hold about 700 BF. The solar panels supply power to the air recirculation fans inside. I have dried several loads of air dried lumber and slabs in it with very good results. In good weather it will take 12 - 14% AD lumber down to 7% in 2 - 3 weeks. About a week ago I put in the first load of semi green lumber, some 8/4 maple at 40% MC that I'm cutting/drying for shares. I think it's going to take 7 - 8 weeks to dry.

    John

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