I'm a noob to this forum (from Google groups), but not a noob
I have an elm tree that has grown so large, as to encroach on my
house. I hate to do it, but within a couple of years I will have no
choice but to cut it down. The tree is about 60' tall, and about 15'
circumference at the base, and has already damaged the eve of the
house where it is (I have repaired that portion of the eve and set it
back to allow another couple of years of growth). The main trunk is
over 10' tall, so there would be quite a bit of lumber to be had, for
something that is just sitting in my back yard.
When the time comes, would it be worthwhile to quarter-saw it for
hardwood boards? Is elm used in any kind of cabinetry or furniture
making? Or, is it just going to end up as firewood? In my experience
I have not seen elm used or mentioned much, in fine woodworking.
Thanks for any thoughts you might have,
Found this via a bit of Googling
umu (Ulmus, Northern Elm) is traditionally the most common softwood
used in the manufacture of furniture in Northern China. The sapwood
tends to be yellowish-brown in tone, whereas the heartwood is
typically more of a chestnut brown color; both possess a striking,
wave-like grain. This wood dries with difficulty, and is of medium
density and hardness, making it an excellent medium for furniture
Elm wood is used in many Chinese furniture pieces for its durability
and wide grain. Light yellow to brown color.
Also if you use Google Groups check out the Google Groups Killfile at
There is a oriented strand board mill just up the road from me. When
I went there for a tour they talked about what they used for raw
material. They used the term "softwood" or "soft hardwood"
to describe the woods that were used for their OSB, which included
Elms, Poplars, Gums, Soft Maples, and others.
That said, I have about 30 winged elm trees on my property. Started
with about forty. Two or three die every year, get a fungus that
there is no prevention for. rarely are large enough or good enough to
do anything with except burn in the fireplace. Probably different
than the Northern Elm, but I've not found a reasonable use for mine.
I went to this before. My friend had his house build close to a huge Elm
tree and refused to cut it down before building the house.
Two years after the tree had to come down. It took some professionals to cut
it down by sections as not to damage his house. Local lumber mills refused
to take it. The raison given was that the tree was very old and they
suspected that many nails may have been embedded in the wood.
I took the tree and had it dropped by a boom truck in many sections in my
I worked at it with my chainsaw most of the summer. Indeed I found all kind
of square nails and spikes not to mention lots of rounds nails embedded way
below the bark not visible to the naked eyes.
The nails had been left by generations of kids and farmers over many years
and every year new rings grew over them.
I end it up by milling a very small amount of lumber. The rest I used as
I had problems splitting it. The best way I came up was to cut it in length
not exceeding 12 inches then it became much easier to split.
I soon learned that Elm fire wood does not burn like other wood. It only
makes a very low flame, burns slowly and smothers.
So I used it during the night and it kept the heat on until the morning.
Not certain how far to trust that site ... the Chinese elm tree in my
front yard is definitely a hardwood. Got about a dozen nice burls
growing on it, too. ;-)
My experience with Elm has been limited to a couple of antique restorations.
Both, old parlour/radio tables, were absolutely beautiful after I got though
old finish and was able to refinish (beautiful because of the wood, not me).
The wood has a prominent grain design and pleasing dark color. Color is
somewhere in the range of Walnut or Pecan. With that said, I believe Elm
has a reputation for being a bit brittle and subject to splits. One of the
tables I restored required extensive repair of cracks.
Would I consider salvaging lumber from the tree you describe based on my
limited experience? Yeah, maybe. I would enjoy creating someting from Elm.
If its American Elm I beg to differ on it's splitting characteristics. I
Welsh Stick Chair class and the instructor (Don Weber) uses American
Elm for his chair seats. My class chair has one. Its tough, resists
and has bold grain that reminds me of butternut, but with more contrast
and red-tan-brown colors. A little mohogany stain and it was gorgeous!
I have since milled an American Elm that was dying of Dutch Elm disease.
Enough 8/4 material to make over 60 windsor/welsh stick chair seats
without a glueup. Save it if you can. "Bodgers" like Don Weber will
take all they can get.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.