A tree blew over and I've been chainsawing it up. I noticed it seems
to have some attractive heartwood.
I'm not much of a carpenter and while most of the tree, I think it was
a Lime, will be going for firewood I'd like to make something nice to
show. The only thought I've had so far is to polish a slice as a
clock. I'd like suggestions, and tips, as to what to do with it.
Whatever I did with it would I need to season it first to stop it from
cracking over time? If so how? My late friend used to try turning
bowls on his electric lathe but they always cracked.
The main reason wood cracks is because of differential shrinkage, the water
needs to leave the wood at the same rate it can migrate from the inside,
otherwise the inside stays swelled and the outside shrinks over it. The
other thing about differential shrinkage is that the cells change shape
more tangentially than radially ( and not a lot axially) so first step is
the quarter them.
Your logs have incipient rot and the green tinge suggests a bit of copper.
Willow has an initial moisture content of ~60%
I agree that it looks like willow and it is in a pretty bad state. As a
firewood it will spit and crackle and produce lots of smoke. It is full of
moisture and even after seasoning will crack badly. The bottom line is
Have to agree - forget it totally. Willow isn't really a turning or
carpentry wood and in reality isn't much use for burning either. This
is all due to it's large water content which takes ages to disappear
and then you are left with a wood that has grown very fast and has
little calorific value or ability to be used structurally. The
colours you are seeing are rot and that is the reason for the tree
Sorry to pour water on your parade.
Generally yes but look at DRAX much of the stuff provided by renewable
growers is willow asrc.
Most woods have about the same calorific value when dried to the same mc.
Even willow dries quite fast when split and under cover.
Apart from asrc plus some trials with eucalyptus and short rotation
softwoods I don't think anyone plants trees commercially for fuel in UK.
You'll note from watching treework on roadsides that it's still cheaper to
chip it to waste rather than haul it off, the economics of biomass demand
large scale harvesting to keep the costs down to about 1/10 those of old
fashioned ( my sort) forestry.
Sawlogs and then industrial wood (chipboard but no longer pulp in this
country) are the intended markest then forestry residues are sold as fuel
but even so I'd guess the planned products subsidise the biomass fuel
There was a large estate near Reading that grew cricket bat willows, a
premium crop on a short rotation, and they did use the logs for heating the
Generally willow is awkward because it's a b****r to chip.
ASRC has problems in a small boiler too as the extra mineral ash from the
large bark/bud percentage coupled with extraneous soil inclusions cause
havoc from clinker in one installation I dealt with.
One almost never plants willow or poplar as whips commercially, setts are
used often in a hole dibbed in the ground and backfilled with sand.
I had some no good wood to burn once, and it wouldnt stay alight at
all. Think it was elder. What worked was to create an outer perimeter
of it around the edges of the grate, then build a fire with good wood
in the centre. Gradually the elder all got burnt.
Hard to tell, but that doesn't look much like a lime internally, or at
least it was a very rotten one (why did it fall over?)
Lime is usually a very fine grained (invisibly so) pale cream or off-
white wood. It's light and works beautifully, especially for hand
Lime isn't much use for most turning, but it's an excellent wood for
carving. It's best (at a convenient level) bucked into logs a couple
of feet long, quartered and then coated (ends at least) with a wax
emulsion (Chestnut Endseal, from woodturning suppliers or Axminster).
Wet or dry, these will then sell to carvers (eBay) and the money is
much better than firewood! It sells fine wet, but (if you have covered
space), it's a doddle to dry.
If you have access to a big bandsaw and a thicknesser, then slab it,
dry it, and surface it into 12" x 18" blocks for relief carving. These
sell very well.
I'm not going to hazard a guess at species from a fuzzy photo and no
leaves, but that really doesn't look like a lime. The rings are too
prominent, the bark too coarse and lime isn't noted for rotting like
this. That "attractive heartwood" is rot, probably punky as anything
to work with.
Willow is of little use to man nor beast. It won't turn, it won't
burn. Willow poles (grown off a coppice or pollard) have their uses as
sticks, and it's a good lightweight timber for building things around
the garden out of thin branches with the bark left on, but willow logs
just aren't much good for anything. It makes nice charcoal though.
I've a fallen willow in our spare garden, and it's mostly going as
firewood (dried over the summer). I have to light some coal beneath it
to get it going, and then it's still just about the worst firewood
you've ever seen. Because it can't be used for turning (tm) I
naturally hhad to turn some of it. I made a set of thin platters in
sizes from 6" to 15": trumpet-shaped, heavy centre, flat thin rims. As
I'd turned them wet, I also allowed them to warp on the rims into a
Pringle shape. It is turnable, but it's not rewarding stuff to work on
and it is a right nuisance to get a decent finish on it. Hardly worth
the trouble, unless you're keen.
Going off on a bit of a tangent, my son is having to have 2 huge trees
taken down this week, plus a lot of other gale-related remedial work, in
the garden of the house he has recently bought. He can only afford the
basic work and will have to arrange to cut and remove the wood.
One tree is a very tall Scots Pine, we are told, and because of its
position will probably come down in sections, so won't produce any long
clear wood like the 25 foot lengths I had to buy when boat building. But
is it worth thinking about getting any of this dried out and to a
The house came with a large shed (double garage sized) with a lean to
open covered storage area beside it. It's dry but gets no sun because of
the huge trees, and I've been saying that I think it would be good for
slow drying of logs and other wood. I assume we want airflow rather than
We don't know what the other big tree is but hopefully we will be able
to see a leaf or two when it's down. There is also a smaller 30foot-ish
dead holly tree in the deal.
He is talking about a wood burning stove, but the money and time is
tight (eg the drains took us all of Friday and I'm still bodging him a
trailer from what we bought on ebay), so is it likely that we could find
someone to buy the wood for logs?
I've dug out the small Bosch chainsaw (no box, instructions or
accessories) that I bought off a remainder table about 10 years ago in
some long defunct diy store and will buy it some oil later today and
then see if it works.
Phone Wood-mizer in Pocklington, and they'll tell you local Wood-mizer
operators near to the tree. Phone them and see if they're interested,
either for buying it or else for coming and slabbing it for you
(usually to 2" or 4", then shed dried).
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