Firewood/lumber question

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Blog entry by Jim posted 11-07-2009 04:06 AM 3953 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So we are having this big bonfire tomorrow like we do every year on my grandparent’s property, and my buddy and I started rounding up all our firewood and burn brush that’s been gathered up over the year there. Sometime this year a HUGE cottonwood got struck by lightning and split in two as it fell. The tree was probably 4’ in diameter. Anyways, we started cutting up chunks of the outer branches and some of the small trees it dragged down with it when it fell.

This is one of them:
Cut Tree

And here’s the other section:
Cut Tree

I was just curious to what the red in the grain was? At first I thought it was cherry, but I’m no expert at identifying trees unless there’s leaves involved, but all the leaves in the woods had already fallen. Wasn’t sure if it was the species that made it red, if it was sapwood, or whatever. Just curious is all, thought it was a neat cross cut.

-- -- Jim - Kokomo, Indiana

11 comments so far

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4839 days

#1 posted 11-07-2009 04:27 AM

it could be spalting, or just natural coloring to whatever wood that is. (I’m reminded of the spalted boxelder photos from a magazine some years back) Some of the lilac I’ve used from my property has distinct spots of purple here and there.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4612 days

#2 posted 11-07-2009 05:39 AM

I am with Scott at this point. Lilac or boxelder immediately comes to mind. I have seen both first hand but am by no means an expert.

I get to see the lilac on a regular occasion since we have 2 of three ancient bushes left on our property. In both cases, the color is beautiful but will fade with time and exposure to light.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View KnotWright's profile


258 posts in 4000 days

#3 posted 11-07-2009 05:55 AM

No matter what type of tree it is, I sure hope you aren’t going to throw it on the fire. I’d set it aside and build something from it.

-- James

View Arnold's profile


215 posts in 4074 days

#4 posted 11-07-2009 06:15 AM

Looks like the same picture to me

View kcrandy's profile


285 posts in 3944 days

#5 posted 11-07-2009 06:33 AM

All I can tell you is that the Navajo stay away from lightning struck trees like you’d stay away from…well make up your own metaphor

-- Caulk and paint are a poor carpenter's best friends

View Jim's profile


150 posts in 3834 days

#6 posted 11-07-2009 02:34 PM

Thanks for the replies guys.

And Arnold is right… somehow I screwed up last night and posted the same link.

My concern was even if we were to use it for firewood, and it WAS spalting…wouldn’t that be dangerous?

And the more I thought about KCrandy’s comment, the more I remember walking up and down the one half of the cottonwood that fell (I was probably a good 15’ in the air) and looking back at the main truck that was left standing (probably 35’ up is where it split off) and noticing all the twisting of the wood and yet no scorch marks. So I’m thinking my dad was mistaken when he first called it a lightning struck tree.

Oh yea, and I’m Cro/Cherokee so not sure what they say about lightning struck trees :)

Thanks again guys. I may definitely have to pull it from the firewood pile, both for safety precautions and in hopes that one day I can mill it into something useful.

Here was the 2nd photo meant to be posted earlier:

-- -- Jim - Kokomo, Indiana

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 4298 days

#7 posted 11-07-2009 03:18 PM

Thats 1 fine piece of wood no matter what it is.

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View a1Jim's profile


117722 posts in 4089 days

#8 posted 11-07-2009 03:18 PM

I bet it will be some pretty wood whem milled

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3816 days

#9 posted 11-07-2009 04:45 PM

my guess is flaming box elder…...but what ever it turns out to be… will be just beautiful…....

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View alaskan79's profile


74 posts in 3865 days

#10 posted 11-07-2009 05:15 PM

It would be ok to burn it if it is spalted the fire will kill anything that might hurt you. I have cut down some popular that has had red in them and cottonwood is in the same family. It might be a mineral stain and it will make nice looking lumber when milled. If you had a picture of the bark it would help on doing a id of it.


-- alaskan79, Michigan

View Jim's profile


150 posts in 3834 days

#11 posted 11-07-2009 06:25 PM

I think I’m just going to keep it and let it slow dry until I have a bandsaw (hopefully Xmas?) and try to resaw it into something usable. The bark was grey and had a very tight texture for lack of a better term. From what I’ve read up on, it sounds a lot like Box Elder, but by all means I could be wrong too. Either way, it will hopefully get resawn eventually, even if I have to do it by chainsaw lol. Lets hope I get a bandsaw first though lol.

-- -- Jim - Kokomo, Indiana

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