• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Oak lumber harvest - small time

 
Ce Rice
Posts: 92
Location: Zone 8-9
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm living on my mother's land temporarily that has 5 to 10 Oak trees that need to be thinned out and could be harvested. They are 20-30 years old, tall, but not perfectly straight.
All i have is a Stihl 271. What is the best way to harvest these for profit or lumber?
Do I fell them myself and then have a lumberyard come pick them up and process them for me?
Do I buy the Alaskan sawmill attachment? But then how do I cure or dry the lumber? I don't have any good barns or closed in areas to do it at.
And it's more wood than what I need for firewood here in Northeast Texas.
 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i know nothing about harvesting them as lumber but you might want to compare prices of lumber vs prices you could get growing mushrooms in the wood.
 
David Dodge
Posts: 34
Location: College Station, TX
bee trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
20-30 Year old oaks are not very old and probably won't yield much commercial lumber, if any at all. Most lumber mills won't accept backyard trees for fear of hidden metal objects. I've used chainsaw mills and they work well but usually are reserved for cutting of wide slabs that can't be milled in other, less wasteful ways. A chainsaw mill has a kerf (the part that becomes sawdust) at least twice as much as a bandsaw mill. The Alaskan mill is a relatively cheap way to get into lumber making compared to a bandsaw mill but you won't get a very good yield from small logs.

Bandsaw mill guys advertise all over Craigslist and you can usually get them to bring their mill to you for a portion of the wood if you don't want to pay for milling. But again, it's all about the wood. You don't mention what kind of oaks you have - are they red oaks or white? Red oak is pretty common and one of the cheapest commercial hardwood lumbers. White oak is more interesting, especially if you quarter saw it but if the trees are not at least 18" diameter at breast height a lot of sawyers won't even mess with them.

If you want to get started in milling the Alaskan Mill is a cheap way to go about it. Once you get the hang of it you can make some decent slabs which are then easy to air dry if you take the time to set up your stack correctly. Google air drying lumber to get an idea of what's involved. It sounds to me that what you have in trees won't be worth the effort but milling can be fun and rewarding, although backbreaking at times.

If you have white oak trees you may think about making BBQ wood. With a chainsaw and a maul you can make smoking wood for restaurants or anybody with a pit.
 
Ce Rice
Posts: 92
Location: Zone 8-9
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I dont think they are red oaks. I like your idea about BBQ wood.

I need to research how well or which mushrooms might work here in Northeast Texas, when's the best time to innoculate, and how long dead does the wood need to be.

I have no interest in getting into milling lumber just for the fun of it, but if it's worthwhile for the money or the usefulness of it, then I'll pursue it.

If I do mill it myself, it'll probably be for pole barns or something similar. Nothing larger in diameter than 22 or maybe 26 inches.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1556
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
42
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Your Stihl 271 won't hack it I'm afraid. We have a 341 and that is only barely powerful enough for milling and is terribly slow. The 341 itself was an upgrade from a 250 and now I'm looking for something bigger still.

We have mostly been milling windblown pines - pretty soft easy wood to mill. The oak that we tried in previous years was harder still.
 
Judith Browning
Pie
Posts: 5534
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
258
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
we just had our son here with his norwood band saw...he and my husband felled a dozen 100 year old white oak...then our son spent three twelve hour days milling the logs into1000 board feet of lumber for and order he had. He hit a lot of metal in some of the trees and damaged nine blades. we have the tops for firewood and a huge pile of slabs and sawdust and I am clipping and hauling all of the leafy bits for mulch....it is a lot of tree parts to deal with all at once....
he said it wouldn't have been worth moving his mill for any fewer trees and iif he had had to buy them.. and for us it was a one time thing just for our son. we usually cut as needed and see the standing trees as the future...

Unless there is a clear plan and good reason to cut them, maybe just harvest as needed and let them grow
How close are they that they need thinning? some of our largest trees are only ten to twenty feet apart.

we cut up to ten inch oaks for shiitake logs...those are from an area that had been clear cut in the past so there were groups of three regrown from the stump so we would thin them to one ore two. If the trees are white oak maybe,there are more low tech ways to use them, as split rails, wooden pitchforks, out door split log benches, tables............shake shingles (yours may not be big enough to split out for these).
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1556
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
42
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Judith (congrats on passing 100 apples by the way!),

I can't speak for the original poster, but in our woods we have a mix of oak canopy trees and chestnut understory. We took advice from the local forestry commission chap who visited our lands. The target to aim for in our type of woods is around 30% canopy cover from the oak standards. This gives the best combination of polewood on a 15 to 20 year cycle and occasional large timber trees. Our area has been neglected for probably 50 to 100 years, so our oak canopy is pretty much 100% cover. We coppiced about 1/3rd of an acre two years ago for firewood. At the same time we thinned the worst oaks out - leaning spindly things - for firewood. That amounted to about 20 trees. The difference it has made to the vigor in that small portion of the woods in phenomenal.

Regarding letting trees just grow, my view is that when I'm working in an area I want to get it right - I'll take down the leaners that won't amount to much at the same time as working the coppice beneath. At the same time I've been layering to create more stools to fill in some gaps. This woodland is a labour of love, however, rather than a for-profit enterprise.
 
Ce Rice
Posts: 92
Location: Zone 8-9
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The trees are between 8' and 35' apart around the house. Some of the smaller trees are clearly not thriving, and over last 4 years about 5-10 have died (drought induced, im pretty sure).

Some of the dead trees, and some of the weak trees are a risk to the house, kids and cars. Bonus is we'll get a little more light for herb garden.

I figure a flexible distance of 20' to 35' apart will work well for us.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1556
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
42
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
CE - 20ft would still give a closed canopy for us. Ours are more the 20m now.
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic