Question: Magnolia wood curing

My 30-foot-plus tall Evergreen Magnolia has died or is close to it. It still has a few green leaves, including some new ones, so I am giving it every chance to recover. When it is clearly completely dead, I will have it harvested for the wood. I had used some of the storm broken branches a couple of years ago; it is lovely wood.
I have the opportunity to get some wood from a tree killed in the same storm that likely damaged mine so badly which may have led to its demise. The people will be cutting the tree completely down in the next few weeks, and I am lucky enough to be getting the bulk of the large wood. Unfortunately, the pieces from them will likely be in 2 to 3-foot lengths, but that can be used in many projects as well. (I'm hoping I'll be able to get longer pieces from my own tree.)
Magnolia is a hardwood. What would be the best way to handle it when it is cut for the best wood for later use?
Glenna
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On Jul 14, 2:03 am, snipped-for-privacy@pmug.org (Glenna Rose) wrote:

I have salvaged and turned a lot of it on my lathe. It is a really pretty wood, but it is sure tempermental. Some of it split all pieces, and some of it really behaved. It doesn't seem to make a difference of where I get it or when, it is my personal experience it is very unstable.
If you got it cut up into some workable planks, I would sticker it, weight it, and cover it to the ground with a tarp as soon as possible (this stuff has split while on my lathe...)
On the other hand, the pieces that make the trip are worth the hassle. The wood is creamy colored and will darken a little to a light amber. If you tree has one of the many infirmaries that kill Magnolia, you may be in for a real treat. I have turned some (and have some in my backyard that are lathe bound) that looks like Ambrosian Maple.
That's my 0.02, FWIW.
Robert
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com writes: [snip]

Thank you for the response, Robert. My tree and the one from which I'm getting the "extra" wood are both casualties of a severe ice storm 2-1/2 years ago. Theirs started dying right away; ours started last spring. On ours, the leaves at the top started dying and dropping, like it was getting sunburned. Theirs apparently died mostly at once. Even though theirs is cut back to the main trunk and larger branches, there are leaves growing on the main trunk. I'm leaving mine in the ground until all signs (of which there are little) of life are gone. Both trees appear to be approximately the same size/age, which would be 50 years old or so. Do Evergreen Magnolias have a life expectancy? The mystery for me is that if it were from the horrible amount of storm damage, why did it take this one more than a year for any seeable symptoms?
I'm thinking about leaving the roots in the ground, stump cut to about 30 inches tall in height, and putting a slab of oak I have on top of it (about 4 feet in diameter from the trunk of an oak tree). Properly finished, it might be quite interesting.
The morning the ice started melting, it sounded like a firing range in the back yard, so many large limbs breaking. At least 1/3 of the magnolia tree went down, probably more like half or more. We lost 1/4 of the apricot tree, also over 50 years old. That type of weather doesn't happen very often here, but when it does, it's bad since the trees haven't been "wintered" every year like they would be in climates in which ice storms are a regular event. I had ice on my chain link fence at least an inch thick so the poor trees didn't have a chance. Here, for whatever reason, they call it a silver thaw which seems odd since it's really warmer weather after the freeze and the falling rain becomes ice when it lands, rather like sleet one would think, which is when the branches start breaking. They really get breaking as the ice starts thawing and falling off redistributing the weight resulting in extra strain.
When I bring their wood home, I will lay woven geotextile road fabric on the ground in an area that will not puddle, lay the wood down, then cover it with more geotextile. That way it will be close to ground temperature with the geotextile allowing it to "breathe." Is that pretty much the type of care you meant?
I'm fortunate to have this other tree coming so I can do my trial-and-error errors on it. I've seen very few of these trees in our area (Portland, Oregon, area) so they apparently not plentiful.
Again, Robert, thank you.
Glenna
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Glenna Rose wrote:

Sounds like disease rather than trauma. Do you have a county agricultural extension agent? They have resources to check it out and research what the problem might be. What do you plan to do with the wood?
--
Gerald Ross
Cochran, GA
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On Sun, 15 Jul 2007 10:22:32 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@pmug.org (Glenna Rose) wrote:

Is this a joke? The 15th of July and the ice started melting?
Give me a break.
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Stinky wrote:

" ...My tree and the one from which I'm getting the "extra" wood are both casualties of a severe ice storm 2-1/2 years ago. ..."
Read +before+ spouting :(
--
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On Jul 15, 12:22 pm, snipped-for-privacy@pmug.org (Glenna Rose) wrote:
SNIP

if it were from the horrible amount >of storm damage, why did it take this one more than a >year for any seeable symptoms?
That would be something that a arborist would better answer, one that was there looking at the tree. The symptoms you are seeing now may have nothing to do with the ice storm. As suggested, they could be disease related, or they could be from insects, or even just the ice storm. I don't know how long different Magnolias live, but down here in South Texas it can easily get ot 50+ years. But once again, I don't know the species.
SNIP

ground in an area that will not puddle, >lay the wood down, then cover it with more >geotextile. That way it will be close to ground temperature

That wouldn't be my first choice, but it might be good for your area and climate. Keep in mind I have only stickered a few types of wood, and the magnolia I kept was so I could turn it on my lathe. I never acquired enough to cut more than a few boards, so I opted to put it all on the lathe.
If I were to dry a highly reactive wood, I would not put it anywhere close to the ground, regardless of what my underlayment might be.One of my buddies that has great success in drying really wet, warping and unstable woods just follows the classic drying procedures.
He has bought some of those cheap (I mean the REALLY cheap) plastic sawhorses and put his wood on them. I am only talking about a couple of hundred bf here to stack, although he has made bigger piles when he "scores". He sets them up in a shady corner of his lot that gets some air circulation, and then puts a layer of wood, then the "stickers" (he has a bunch of old 3/4" X 3/4" wood tomato stakes he has used for years) to separate the layers of wood.
His wood is all cut to a 1" thickness, and again following the classic formula, he allows one year per inch to air dry. He makes sure the wood is well supported by the horses and may use two sets to make himself happy when he has some 8" boards. Stickers go about every 16 - 24" at 90 degrees to the boards.
His wood is kept about 30" off the ground, and his goes a long way to keep fungus and insect infestation away. He puts a cheap tarp over the wood, covering it to as close the ground as he can get. He secure the tarp to keep it from blowing away.
In about 30 days, it is a good idea to take the tarp off, remove the wood, and stack it in reverse order, upside down from the way it was originally stacked. 90 days later, do it again. Then wait about 6 months, then do it again. You shoud be able to wait out the remaining time without changing the orientaion or stacking order.
That's the backyard method.
Another amigo has rented a huge building in a rather dangerous part of town for his cabinet shop. He takes any harvest of green wood he has, puts in on some well placed dunnage, stickers it, throws a tarp on it to slow down the drying and just forgets about it. He has plenty of room so he doesn't worry. Keeping it inside out of the elements takes all the fussing out of drying.
Good luck.
Hope this helps some.
Robert
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snipped-for-privacy@netcommander.com writes:

Our extension agent told me that this was probably the life cycle of the tree which grows quite rapidly compared to trees such as oaks. They don't live long, unlike oaks, and seemed to think if these trees (the other one and mine) were 50 or so years old, they had passed their expected life span. I counted the rings on the cut one as best as I could; it looks like it is at least 40 years old. The rings were also significantly wider than the rings on the cherry trunk we picked up at the same time.
He didn't think disease was an issue but said what happened with mine and the way it happened was typical of trauma to the root system, such as the roots disturbed with equipment working around it, something parking under it, etc. Since none of that happened to mine, it goes back to age. Bummer!!!
The other one had an above-ground swimming pool under it and the guy said he had been working with trucks back there so theirs may well have been trauma. Since I really don't know what lead up to theirs dying, it's hard to say. I suspect, from what the extension agent said, that the vehicle activity involved in cleaning up the storm damage may be responsible. Mine, though, had no such thing as traffic around the tree. Even the garden is out of the drip line. So maybe they were both age-related.

I am hoping to have enough to build a chest, like a cedar chest. It will depend on how much I can salvage and how many large pieces there will be. Now all of the "other" tree is here so I can start working on saving what I can. Most of it is in smaller lengths in the area of two feet long, but I also have the trunk and might be able to get some 3-foot length pieces out of it if I'm lucky. This tree was still putting out a few green leaves so wasn't completely dead so I would think it should sit a year or so before anything is done with it. Is that a correct conclusion for trying to use the wood? It appears to be in pretty good shape overall with no rot or other such "bad spots."
I have granddaughters so there is a wide range of projects to build for them, something for always. Of course, jewelry boxes and the like are popular with girls. Some of the smaller pieces will likely become bird houses and other such "uneventful" projects. When I was in England in 1998, I purchased a hand-made Midsummer Night's Dream chess set at Shakespeare's home in Stratford Upon Avon, which needs a special chess board. Pieces of my own downed cherry tree and magnolia tree would be good for that, maybe with a touch of stain on one for contrast. Of course, a larger piece could become a chopping block. :-)
The extension agent said that it is quite common for folks who move here from southern states to plant these rather than trees more suited to our climate. I thought that odd since the tree (until it died, of course!) seemed quite healthy and bloomed all summer, wonderful huge blossoms. Of course, the constant supply of dropped leaves, twigs and small branches all year long also makes it a messy tree and causes one to appreciate the fall leaves rather than the all-year leaves.

We moved the big pieces here on Saturday, company on Sunday, so it will be the weekend before I get started on getting these where they need to be (and painting the ends to seal them in an attempt to help reduce splitting). It's nice to have this one for learning before ours is cut. The trunk on ours is longer before it branches so we will be able to get 4-foot lengths from it as long as it doesn't split. It's fortunate to have this "practice" wood before ours is cut. Ours will also be cut in the fall so the weather will be cool and moist for it to start curing.
Glenna
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