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Thread: Cherry tree down, now what?

  1. #1
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    Cherry tree down, now what?

    We cut down a wind damaged cherry tree today. I have 8 pieces from the trunk that are 12”-14” long, and I have a 5’ section of the trunk. I don’t have time to rough turn them, what’s the best way to minimize checking until I have time to turn them? Also, I left the stump 16”-18” above ground plus I plan on digging up some of the root ball, should I do anything to the stump? The tree is still alive, I wouldn’t be surprised if it sends up suckers from the stump.

    thanks!
    Shawn

  2. #2
    Anchorseal - I would cut the pieces in half removing the pith, so about an 1.5' on either side of the center. Apply one coat asap on the ends and another coat the day after. Cherry will check VERY quickly. Since it sustained wind damage, I would be careful about shake in the event the trunk was involved in the damage, or stressed when it sustained damage.

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  3. #3
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    Cut the short pieces in half through the pith and anchorseal. Leave the long log intact and anchorseal the ends. Keep them out of the sun.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn Siegrist View Post
    We cut down a wind damaged cherry tree today. I have 8 pieces from the trunk that are 12”-14” long, and I have a 5’ section of the trunk. I don’t have time to rough turn them, what’s the best way to minimize checking until I have time to turn them? Also, I left the stump 16”-18” above ground plus I plan on digging up some of the root ball, should I do anything to the stump? The tree is still alive, I wouldn’t be surprised if it sends up suckers from the stump.

    thanks!
    Shawn
    Whatever you do, do it right away! (unless it's raining enough to keep things wet.) As Roger said, cut the smaller ones down the pith and seal the ends (ASAP) This will help prevent splits and the anchorseal will help slow checking. Black cherry is "usually" prone to rapid and serious checking on the end grain, sometimes even if well sealed if the weather is warm. (I say "usually" after my experience with one cherry that simply refused to check.) Keep the wood off the ground and out of the sun.

    To keep the chunks indefinitely you can submerge them in water, even without sealing. If submerging in something like 55gal drums change the water occasionally. Look up ponding for wood storage. Forest Products Laboratory has a document.

    As for the stump, I've had success in preventing checking for a while by sealing with Anchorseal then covering with plywood to keep the sun off.

    There is often wonderful figure in the wood next to and better, below ground! The problem in cutting up what is below ground from any tree is the possibility of rocks and dirt inclusions which can dull the chain saw in a millisecond. If possible, after digging it up use a pressure washer to remove all the dirt, cut off the long roots, examine what remains carefully for places where the roots have grown tight together which might grip rocks. I have "whittled" away at huge root balls by cutting out smaller chunks from what I guessed was clear wood. Can be very rewarding!

    I had to take down a fairly large cherry tree recently - it was about 120' high and maybe 28" across at the ground level. I found some takers for much of it and I'm cutting blanks for drying from near the roots. I took the tree down by digging up the roots all around and pushing with the excavator while pulling with a steel cable - gets the stump out of the ground at the same time!

    JKJ

  5. #5
    I hate to go against the flow, but I would not leave the pith in the halves. You will have better success by removing the pith.

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  6. #6
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    I often leave longer sections of logs laying on the ground without doing a thing. The first few inches will check but the center doesn't. When I'm ready I cut the ends off and then cut blanks. It's cold up here and for several months the log will be frozen but I have left some for over a year to experiment with spalting. Since you have smaller sections cut I would remove the pith otherwise the tree will decide which way to split.

    I also take that center slab and cut the pith out of it so I have two short boards. For a small diameter it may not be worth it but for larger stuff you can get two nice quarter sawn boards that can be used for segmented bowls. I think it comes down to if you are like Mr Jordan and have an abundance of wood then it's probably not worth bothering with. But for those of us who either don't have lots of wood or time you might as well take advantage of extra wood when you can.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the advice everyone!

    tonight I sealed the end grain with anchorseal, tomorrow I’ll take the time to cut up the sections and remove the pith.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Keeton View Post
    I hate to go against the flow, but I would not leave the pith in the halves. You will have better success by removing the pith.
    Not sure what you are saying here. Cutting in half with a chainsaw does remove the pith, as long as it's straight and your aim is good. If it wanders or if you miss it then you have to do more. It seems that the radial checking comes from shrinkage trying to pull the wood two ways at once, so once you've bisected the circle it at least has a chance to shrink uniformly. Certainly the more you cut away of the center of the tree the better your chances become of successfully drying the final piece, but at a cost of the size of the form you can make and of the interesting grain patterns. So it's a tradeoff.

  9. #9
    Roger, just stating my experience with cherry and leaving the pith in a half cut from a log - at least in this part of the country. I have had much better luck with simply making a cut just on either side of the pith. I understand the loss of wood, but on the other hand one can easily lose the whole piece by having the pith crack. If leaving the pith in a log half works otherwise for you, then by all means continue doing it.

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  10. #10
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    I agree completely that you have to remove the pith, I guess the question is how much additional wood around it needs to go. Also agree that taking more reduces the chances of cracking. Or, perhaps we have a different idea of what the pith is, I've always thought of it as a point (sometimes a small tube) in the cross-section of a log marking the path the apical meristem took when the tree grew.

    I'm currently roughing some catapla from a tree so big that we had to cut chunks 8-10" away from the pith to get them small enough to fit on my 26" lathe (don't ask what I am going to do with such enormous bowls, I have no idea!-- but it was irresistible to make them) They are remarkably stable, I'm sure in part due to the very small curve in the grain.

  11. #11
    Catalpa is an amazingly stable wood and very light in weight when dry. Has an interesting grain, as well.

    I usually will take out a total of around 2-3 inches, including both chainsaw cuts, so my "board" piece ends up about 1.5" thick. If the log is big enough, the scrap makes a couple of nice slabs of quarter sawn wood as mentioned by Alex.

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  12. #12
    Imho, cut your pieces to remove the pith . The smaller the more success I have. Resist the temptation to make the pieces as large as possible.

    In fact I find splitting the wood helps create stable pieces. I stand my 12-30” log sections on end and drive a hatchet in from the corner. Then I split each half. Once I have it quartered, I chop off the pith corner.

    It’s much faster than a chainsaw.

  13. #13
    Don't like Catalpa. It has a smell to it that I just can't stomach. Almost makes me feel ill. I did pick up a lidded catalpa box at a club auction years back, and it still smells like the wood. Not so much on the outside any more, but still strong on the inside.

    For the cherry, keeping it without roughing it out immediately is risky, no matter what you do with it. Just about every log I have ever had will have a crack off of the pith to start with. If you are cutting into bowl length sections, diameter plus 3 or 4 inches on each end, rip the log down that crack line. Some times it will line up on each end of the log section. To me, I don't dare about grain orientation as much as I do about saving a bigger sized bowl blank, and the crack seldom lines up with grain centered in the bowl blank, but some times you get lucky. Keep in the shade, heavy tarp underneath and over the top, out of any direct sun and wind. If there is the option, sinking them in water is probably best way to keep them for any extended period of time. If you have a stream on your property, the flowing water works best. Weird stuff grows in still water...

    robo hippy

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger wiegand View Post
    Not sure what you are saying here. Cutting in half with a chainsaw does remove the pith, as long as it's straight and your aim is good. If it wanders or if you miss it then you have to do more. It seems that the radial checking comes from shrinkage trying to pull the wood two ways at once, so once you've bisected the circle it at least has a chance to shrink uniformly. Certainly the more you cut away of the center of the tree the better your chances become of successfully drying the final piece, but at a cost of the size of the form you can make and of the interesting grain patterns. So it's a tradeoff.
    Some people always remove a inch or more at the center, depending on the size of the log. Bisecting does prevent the larger stress cracking due to the T/R shrinkage ratio but in some cases the radial cracks can still develop from the juvenile wood outwards. When I cut square blanks on the bandsaw for drying I usually remove more of the pith if it's on the side of a blank or cut the blank so the pith is at the corner - that usually works.

    Some depends on the species. I've seen dogwood in the round split at the outside from tangential shrinkage it opened up cracks at least 5 or 10 degrees! Cedar, walnut, etc - not so much.

  15. #15
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    I like to use the pith section for spindle projects since it's bascially quarter sawn wood. Cut out the pith and you have two nice pieces of pretty stable wood.

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