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Thread: More trouble than it's worth?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    SW Ohio
    Posts
    68

    More trouble than it's worth?

    I'm in Southwest
    Ohio and I have an ash tree that needs to come down. It sits between the driveways of two houses in about a 8 foot wide section of earth. Diameter at 4.5' is approx 31". I think usable height is maybe 28'-30' before it starts to branch and has a large injury. It is a yard tree, so the bottom few feet could be sacrificed. It had emerald ash borer and was treated, but it's so large and close to the two houses, that it is a hazard.

    So, worth it to hire a sawyer or should I just have it taken away? Who does one work with to take the tree down in a manner that is appropriate for a sawyer to be able to use the log? I think the tree removal / trimming companies around here would likely just take it apart piece by piece on the way down.

    I don't have a wife or neighbors that would let me air dry the lumber for a few years in the back yard. I do have a large garage and basement shop that could be used for storage once dried.

    Drying and storage make me think I'm better off just buying wood ready to use as I need it... but I hate to see it get turned into wood chips and kindling.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    8,119
    If there is room to drop the trunk in one piece any competent tree removal crew could do that for you. I have an arborist friend who regularly fells trees that I get the logs from. It's not a big deal to a trained crew. The bigger deal for you is what to do with all that lumber should you choose to have it milled. My advise is that if you don't have a place to store that much lumber then you look into either selling or giving away the logs, rather than having them turned into firewood. I get logs from folks I don't know who advertise them for free on Marketplace. I have paid for nice ash logs, but more often I get them for free. Sometimes, I give the owner of the tree some dry lumber in return. If you have hobby mill owners like me in your area you might be able to strike a deal you both are happy with. Good luck.

    John

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
    Posts
    1,323
    Local to me I could hire a (licensed, bonded and insured) crew to drop it out into the street, limb off the top enough for traffic to get by and roll the log into the gutter, and grind the stump for about $200. From there I could hire a couple teenagers to hump 16" pieces of branches onto my lawn while I was running a chain saw, and with some muscle deal with taking some 16" rounds for firewood off the bottom of the log.

    So within 24 hours all I would have left on the street would be the log, and some firewood on my front lawn. On day three my neighbors would be talking about the log if it was still in the gutter. Knowing who my two most talkitive neighbors are, I would keep them in the loop about when the guy was supposed to be coming for the log a week or two before the tree actually comes down.

    No idea how your local tree services operate, the time I asked for a trunk to be bucked to rounds 16-18 inches long, I came home to find 10-20 inch rounds. Once the tree is on the ground and not obstructing traffic your big insurance liability is concluded. Still have chainsaws to run, but the really big risk is over.

    I would say get it done. Better to run chain saws until ten PM for two nights than stop at seven PM every night for a week, at least in my neighborhood.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    8,119
    They must do things differently in AK, Scott. No tree crew here could legally drop a tree into a street open to public traffic w/o all kinds of approvals, the cops there to direct or reroute traffic, etc. Instead, they either use a bucket truck or climber to cut the crown, dropping the small pieces and roping down the larger limbs to the base of the tree. They will chip it and/or haul it away, or not, whatever you pay for. And you will pay quite a bit to have a tree taken down near a house, power lines, etc. $1000 would be a bargain, $3000 not unusual.

    John

  5. #5
    My experiences in this area (KC Metro) are much closer to John's than to Scott's. The potential for salvaging saw logs is definitely something to be discussed with the tree service guy before a price is set. Some of our local tree services are capable of bucking trunks into logs properly but is not common knowledge. Many of them are used to the efficiency of cutting to pieces of a size manageable to get it to the chipper parked at the curb. Some of the larger companies have the equipment to move logs, but not necessarily the willingness to compromise the way they have always done it. Fact is, many of them are going to pay a tipping fee to dump the debris from the entire tree at a landfill or mulch/firewood dealer. Sawlogs have a significantly higher (plus vs. negative) value, if they know how to cut them and who to sell them to. It has been my experience that smaller operations care about that cost difference, larger ones don't. The cost should be less if they can leave the logs on-site rather than disposing of them, and we do have some tree guys that will actually deliver the log to me, either to sell it to me, or as a service to the property owner who wants to have it milled for their personal use. If left on-site, you should also have made arrangements to find a mobile sawyer who can handle the logs, size and location. Or you'll have to move them to the mill yourself.

    On a side note: a couple of years ago the Tree Care Industry Association considered setting an ANSI standard for the disposal of removed trees, primarily based on the highest/best use principle. It was an excellent proposal but the idea go shot down, I suspect by large tree companies, and perhaps municipalities, that didn't want maximizing the value of removed, urban, logs, to interfere with the way they have always done things. That indecision probably failed to save billions of board feet of lumber from the waste stream. (stepping down from my soapbox).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
    Posts
    1,323
    I have read multiple times from multiple sources that town and city trees are often loaded with metal. Actually have seen a thread or two here as well. If none of your local sawmills want it, ask them if they think there is metal in it.

    If you have a wood stove, or know someone nearby who does, one option would be to hand split the log and have a shot at working green riven wood and send the waste pieces to the stove. That is what I would do if I had the log you describe in my front lawn ready to come down.

    A grand plus to drop a suburban tree, with crew members from multiple teams, I shake my head. No soap box. Sorry I couldn't be more help.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    8,119
    Here's a honey locust log I recently go through the two arborists I know. You can see how close it was growing to the house.



    They used a bucket truck to take down the crown, piece by piece. Then they put tension on the trunk to make sure it fell in the intended direction. You can see the power lines out by the street.



    Or how about these 100 ft cottonwood trees trapped in a backyard with buildings on all sides. If you look closely you can see the climber; no bucket truck on this job. I think he got paid more than $1000 just for his work. There were at least 5 guys on this crew with a Bobcat and stump grinder.



    Houses, power lines, all the equipment to do the work safely, insurance in case something goes wrong, it's no mystery why it costs a lot to take down a large tree in a an urban/suburban location.

    I got some beautiful lumber out of that honey locust; surprisingly, no nails.

    John

  8. #8
    Honey locust makes some beautiful wood, works similar to red oak but a bit harder. When my tree guys bring locust it is under the condition that any thorns have been removed before it gets here. As far as metal in logs from urban areas, it can happen, usually in the butt log. I have heard of sawyers who completely reject any residential tree and, for me, that is a bit harsh. I primarily mill urban logs (KC Metro suburban/rural area) and I did a study of how often I encountered metal when milling. Last year, in the first 500 logs I milled, I only hit metal in 19 logs, a mere 4%. In almost all cases, I charge a $15 fee for hitting metal and in most cases I was able to clean, reset and sharpen the blade. Blades that cut through most nails, fencing and wire, even a railroad spike, are usually recoverable. Deck screws, hardened chain, and ceramics like insulators and armor-piercing bullets, usually mean the blade is trashed.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    8,119
    I mill a lot of urban logs, too, Tom, but no where near 500 in a year. You are a milling monster. I assume you have a mill with at least some hydraulics. Anyway, my metal hit rate is a lot higher than 4%, more like 15%. I dulled 3 blades and ruined one before I finally gave up on one otherwise nice hard maple log recently. I mill for cash, too, sometimes and make sure people understand it's $30 for any blade ruined if I hit metal, stones, etc. So far, I've never charged anyone, but I have hit a lot of nails. You are right, it's amazing that the blade usually cuts through nails, etc., dulled but not ruined. And butt logs usually have the most metal (and the best wood), but I've hit nails much higher up, too. You just never know. My metal detector finds ones close to the surface, but when I'm cutting 8/4 stock it's Russian roulette.

    John

  10. #10
    John, it was 19 logs out of 500, but I have changed more than one blade in a log (at the client's request). I suspect that I have hit more nails from tree stands than from tree houses. That stat was a snapshot in time, I'm sure it fluctuates. I mill a lot of walnut and oak and, fortunately, they often have telltale signs of metal contamination. One reason I much prefer end coatings like AnchorSeal, rather than any kind of paint. Paint can hide problems. I do have a wand-type metal detector but I have found, as you did, that it is only effective for a couple of inches in hardwood. Add in that the mill is made of metal, as are the forklift forks, so checking is challenging. I normally use it after we hit the first nail or see a stain in a cut board, to see if there is any metal close by.

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