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hand powered milling

 
ari gold
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Hi there,

I've been looking around here for ages and finally have a question that I just can't seem to find the answers too.  The quick backstory is that we live in Eugene OR and have quite a few pieces of douglas fir lying around.  I had an arborist come in to limb up on tree (let in more light for food production) and have a bunch of long (12' - 14' side branches about 4" in diameter.  I also did the neighbors a favor and let then take down a complete tree - while most of it is in 18" rounds, I kept four 5-6' long pieces which are about 2' in diameter (the tree had two trunks).

Basically - how do I go about splitting these into usable pieces by hand?

For example, I'm thinking of using the side limbs as terracing for our beds (which are on a slope).  I think I'd just need to split them in half.  Then, for the big pieces, I'd like to take about a 3" section out of the middle of each to make a large table with and then use the semi circles left as benches.  I was thinking that I could stand them vertically and get a long saw but I also have read about people using wedges.  Either way, I only get one shot at this so I thought I'd check.

Also - any book recommendations?  I've been down to our wonderful public library but can't find diddly.  Just a chapter in a wood carving book.

Thanks a bunch!

~ari

Ps. the big pieces have been sitting with a roof over them for about 16 months while the side limbs only about a month.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Posts: 1605
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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A few things I can tell you are:  How straight a split you get depends on the grain of the wood.  And if it's moist, whether cured or green, it splits better when it's frozen.

If splitting is just not working, you could just use the side branches without splitting them, and you could find someone with a chainsaw mill to just slice out the center pieces for that table you want to build.

Thekla
 
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