I watch this forum with very little input due to very little experience in
woodworking. With that said let me make a long story short.
Building my retirement house now
2.5 years to retire from the military
looking to start a new hobby
woodworking has always been an interest
Ok with that part gone here is my main question,
At the place I am renting now there is a rather larger american beech tree
that the landlord is looking to cut down, with my new interest in
woodworking I told him that I would take part of the tree to mill and use
for my new hobby. I did this without to much thought behind it. Bash me on
that one later. The tree has about 16 foot of straight upright tree before
the first limb comes off of it. It is approx. 36" in diameter at the base
and just before the first limb goes off it is about 24" in diameter.
(largest beech tree I have ever seen) Anywho, after he cuts it down I was
thinking that I would get about 12'+ in a straight piece, and then several
limbs that range from 10" diameter to 18" diameter, and anywhere from 6' to
10' long, and fairly straight.
Is this tree good for funiture making, hardwood flooring, or any other misc.
If yes, is there anyone in the north eastern North Carolina or Virginia
Beach area that does portable sawmilling, that would be interested in
working out a deal on milling this tree?
Beech will make a great workbench. With all that wood you could make a
dream workbench. 3" thick top and some sturdy legs.
It's a good hard stable wood.
Using maple will cost you a small fortune.
Kiln drying, if you can find a place in your area would speed things
up. Otherwise you will need to wait one year per inch of thickness.
Beech also steam bends great, and when sanded to around 600 grit and
then buffed it will be shiney and smooth as silk.
If you are as slow as I am you won't need a hobby for a few years you can
spend your time finishing your house. I have been at my retirement home for
about 10 years now and I think I have about two more to go. It is all made
out of local lumber from a small mill down the road and I do the planing and
shaping for the walls, ceiling and floor as well as everything else that
goes into making a home. When I'm finished it will be skidoing fishing
hunting and maybe a little woodworking in the winter.
Without any more delays I will be moving into my house by the first of
april. I am just waiting on the final inspection to be done now. Hoping that
he wont have to come back for a second trip at it.
So going through the trouble to have this tree milled is worth it I take it.
Would it be smart to get it quarter sawn, or just plain sawn?
I haven't worked with a lot of beech, but in my experience, it's used
mostly for tool handles, work benches, etc., or applications where
strength and stability are important, but interesting/pretty grain is
not an issue. If I had the opportunity to get a bunch of beech for
free, I would sure take it. I like the previous poster's idea of
building a workbench with it.
One thing to keep in mind: wood milled from branches (or leaning
trunks) may not be very stable. The top part of a branch is sort of
stretched, and the bottom part is compressed, so this discrepancy can
cause warping or other unusual behavior. Google "reaction wood" or
"compression wood" for more info. Do you need any firewood? Or it
might be fine for turning - I don't know much about that. The 12' of
clear bole sounds great, though.
Oh - one more thing to keep in mind - I've heard that street/yard
trees are likely to contain nails, staples, or other buried surprises,
so you might invest in a metal detector before working it very much
with good tools. (I'm sure any sawmill would be aware of this issue;
I'm not sure what they'd do about it.)
Enjoy the free wood - even with these minor complications, it's a
good sized tree, so if you can find a sawyer who will trade milling
for a portion of the wood, it sounds like at least a small gloat to
OK. Some quick notes: American beech is used for a great many things
and if I were you, I'd grab that tree and have it quartersawn. It's
easily large enough unless there's a lot of center rot.
American beech is one of the less stable hardwoods, though, and is
difficult to season properly, thus the quartersawing. Shrinkage during
drying is large, but QS controls that to a large extent (just as it
does with American sycamore).
General uses for the wood include, or used to, food containers (it has
no taste of its own), baskets, butcher blocks, handles, flooring,
turnery, chairs and much else. It resists friction well (good flooring
feature). Oh, yeah. It is fairly easy to steam bend.
Yes. It should be quartersawn, not flatsawn, for two reasons:
1) Stability. Flatsawn beech is very prone to warping.
2) Appearance. Quartersawn beech frequently has dramatic grain figure. Not
quite as flamboyant as quartersawn white oak, but still very nice.
Contact customer service at Wood-Mizer (www. woodmizer.com). They can put you
in touch with owners of their mills in your area.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
As previously noted it makes great workbench surfaces, legs, etc. Also
pretty good for a variety of food items (rolling pins, cutting boards, etc).
Some folks also make hand tools such as mallets from Beech (maybe a little
As some have suggested, it would be good to have some of the tree
quarter-sawn. This could be attractive and stable for a bench.
If your local sawyer is reasonable, the tree could keep you in project wood
for years to come.
I think I am going to go with the work bench idea, along with a few hundred
cutting boards for the kitchen (ebay specials lol).
What size would be a good to cut for the work bench. I was thinking since it
is easy to warp that smaller widths would be better, but if the thickness is
about 3 inches then a wider board should be fine, at least I think so.
Give me some more ideas as to size of the work bench top pieces.
I will post the work in progress on the internet somewhere. Where I am
moving to only has dial up connections right now but I do have access to
highspeed for picture upload.
Most of the Beech work benches are cut into3-4" wide strips and then
laminated back togehter on the wide side. (providing a 3-4" thick top. This
is quite a bit of work which requires some care during gluing. Tauton has a
great set of three idea books on:
- Shop Storage
The first has good stuff regarding bench ideas and some assembly plans.
That books is available by itsef on Amazon. I think the author is Tolpin.
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