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The season for peeling logs? When to fell a tree?  RSS feed

 
Rojer Wisner
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Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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What I hope I am remembering correctly is that there are specific seasons or perhaps even specific days when it it best to fell a tree for a specific purpose.
A while back and not remembering the source, I read that early spring is the best time to fell a log for peeling.

Is that correct or does the season depend on the species of tree that will be peeled?

What was implied is that other seasons were good for felling a tree used for other purposes.
Anyone here able to provide some good generalities about what season to fell a tree for which purpose?

I think I want to create some vigas for the floors/ceiling of my HexHouse (project listed as New Home Design Challenge(d)).
The project will take place in N.E.NM - within an hours drive of Taos.
 
Rojer Wisner
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Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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While my search for peeling logs didn't bring up the better results - after I posted, the Similar Threads window below had a couple of interesting entries - Fungus peeling?

Which reminded me - the method I was hoping to utilize would be to use a pressure washer and perhaps that rotating tip that uses higher pressure and a spinning water stream. If conditions are right - you don't need the spinning nozzle and risk damaging the naturally shiny wood finish.
 
John Darrell
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All you need to know is basically this...

Trees are made of wood. Wood is very porous, meaning it can hold water easily.
What season you are going to be cutting and working a felled tree in will affect the quality of the wood a lot actually. Personally i like cutting in the winter because the wood is the driest, so it is more brittle and easier to cut.
What to think about is not just the amount of water on the ground or from recent rain/snow, but from how much is in the air. Summer months typically bring humid weather and the wood quality in a tree will reflect this, making it it more spongy. So if you are chipping it with an adze or an axe the tool will tend to bounce more and make less precise and effective cuts. Fall and spring may have similarly dry humidity levels, but spring wood will be a little more spongey than fall because heavy snow melts will bring increased saturation to the trees. Dry wood is much more brittle and susceptible to split and chip. Which is actually a plus if you are stripping bark, or milling it somehow. It's all about water density in the air. Hope that helps.
 
Rojer Wisner
Posts: 44
Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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@John Darrell

The reasoning behind an early spring cutting of a tree that will be peeled had something to do with the way the bark adheres to the trunk. I think in spring the space between the growing bark and the wood becomes soft enough such that when one water peels the trunk - the shiny surface remains. In winter - it was suggested that the bark will not peel off and leave the nice shiny surface.

So if one peels using the log wizard or whatever it was - than another season was suggested because you aren't looking for that specific effect on the wood's appearance.
 
Roy Hinkley
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Location: S. Ontario Canada
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Spring is best for peeling eastern white cedar, can't speak specifically for anything else. Mostly though peel as soon as possible after felling.
 
Todd McDonald
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Location: Mid-Missouri
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My information comes from the log home builders association. I attended their log home building class and as far as education goes it is second only to my PDC. I have not built a log structure yet so my answer is not based on personal experience but rather what was taught in the class by teachers with 30 plus years of experience building with logs.

Observing the growth rings of trees, the light ring is spring/summer growth where sap is flowing heavily. The light ring is made of soft spongy wood that easily moves water and nutrients through it. The dark ring is fall/winter growth with little or no sap flow, the tree is dormant. The tree hardens off in fall to prepare for winter freezing temperatures and as a result the dark ring is made of very hard, dry wood with higher resin content. In the class it was highly recommended to use winter cut logs whenever possible because that meant that the outer most ring, just below the bark, was the dark growth ring and the resulting log would be more resistant to rot and insect damage. It was also highly recommended that you peel logs using a spud instead of a draw knife because the draw knife's sharp edge was more likely to cut through the cambium layer and into the wood, right through your dark ring, and defeat the purpose of using the winter cut log.

When using spring cut logs the bark peels off very easily due to the heavy sap flow just beneath the bark. However the resulting log has the soft, spongy wood as its outer most layer. There is also more water present in the tree during this active growth cycle. Peeling winter cut logs is much harder as the bark is glued to the wood by that hard, dark growth ring. All that said, I'm positive there have been thousands, if not millions, of buildings built with spring cut logs that are just fine, especially if the building and roof design keep water off of the logs. If you are going to mill the logs at all then you'll be cutting through that outer most layer anyway, use spring cut logs since they are easier to peel.

Now that you have the full picture you can make an educated decision based upon your needs and intended final use of the wood.

 
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