found wood #11: O frabjous day! Free Jacaranda!

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 07-28-2009 09:55 PM 2825 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 10: Full, fallen Jacaranda mimosifolia tree - wish me luck! Part 11 of found wood series Part 12: Is there such a thing as *too much* Jacaranda? Let's find out... »

In yesterday's dramatic episode, Camille – the homeowner who’s Jacaranda mimosifolia street tree fell over due to fungal rot at the base – was very concerned about a whole host of things that might happen if she allowed me to cut up the tree and take a bunch with me. She was rather justified about some of it, perhaps much of it, but that didn’t help eager me, of course.

This morning, after waiting a whole day for the street crew to come by as promised, she’d had enough. Her gardener told her “Just let that guy cut it. He knows what he’s doing” That was kind, if wrong, of him. I’m very green with a chainsaw, but at least it’s only a 16” electric with an anti-kickback chain, and I know a little something about gravity, and where things want to fall. I’ve also read everything I can find on proper use, stance, grip, and methodology of felling, bucking, pruning, and whatever else I could find, and watched dozens of YouTube videos of people using chainsaws, and talking about proper care, usage, and maintenace. That’s no substitute for experience, but there’s also no experience without just getting out there and taking some risk.

I’m happy to report that after a bit over an hour of trimming, I am uninjured, and I damaged nothing in the area. It is rather hard to tell sometimes what a limb will do, so I did get half a dozen binds, some that I had to fight pretty hard to unstick, but it’s all part of experience. I also broke my new $80 limb saw. What a flimsy thing that was. I’m disappointed in Fiskars, and the thin plastic that gave out immediately on about the 4th cut. I’ll need to return it tonight.

I wore a hard hat, safety goggles, and tight clothing that wouldn’t fall into the saw, kept my eyes on where the cord was, keeping it untangled, with enough slack in case I had to move, and so limbs wouldn’t catch it and pull the thing out of my hand. I also kept areas around me clear in case I needed to jump back, or do a dive roll to get out of the way of anything big, but all of my guesses turned out pretty well, and there were no crazy snapbacks, or rollovers. Everything fell basically where and how I wanted. The reading and video watching paid off. Still it’s a bit nerve-wracking when you’re new, and in someone else’s lawn, right out by the road.

Here’s what I left behind:

scraps of Jacaranda tree cut up

My truck was pretty full, but moreover, I needed to get to work, and coming off a powerful headache and low sleep last night, waking up earlier than usual, and not eating or drinking anything, I got a case of mild heat stroke by the end, and had to sit in the car and wait for the blood to return to my head. I thought I would vomit. I’ve had that a few times in my life when I’ve, say, jogged too hard in the hot sun after a long period of non-exercise. It’s never fun. I still feel a little weak, but a quick shower before work, and slowly sipping on water all morning is restoring me to normal. Boy am I out of shape!

I couldn’t cut through the big stuff with a 16” chainsaw, but I gave it the old college try. I’m considering renting a 2’ gas-powered saw just for a few cuts, and will be properly nervous using it if I do so.

large piece of Jacaranda I couldn't get through

I did get a truck bed mostly full of some thick branches, though. They are really heavy for their size. This stuff must be incredibly wet:

truck bed full of Jacaranda limbs

After a quick shower, putting the saws away, I headed into work with what I’m calling an “arboreal flush.” I’m still feeling pretty beat up here. This sinks it. I’m getting back in shape. I’m tired of being too old at 31 to do things like cutting up a tree and loading a truck once.

me redfaced from hard work

At lunch I’m going to drag these out onto my driveway, and head back over to saw up a bunch more of the less-than-3”, greater-than-5” pieces in 6’ lengths to throw into the back of the truck. I think these will be great for small turnings on the lathe.

truck bed full of Jacaranda limbs

Hopefully the tree guys don’t show up and haul it all away while I’m at work today! If they do, no big deal. I did get quite a bit of free stuff to play with already.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

10 comments so far

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 4663 days

#1 posted 07-28-2009 10:05 PM

Great find…looks like you got some good wood there.

-- Don S.E. OK

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1142 posts in 5328 days

#2 posted 07-28-2009 10:29 PM

Nice haul :)

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 4606 days

#3 posted 07-28-2009 10:43 PM

Nice job…and good attitude….better safe then sorry…

Looking forward to seeing the projects you make from this.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View Karson's profile


35295 posts in 5737 days

#4 posted 07-28-2009 10:57 PM

great Gary: I hope that someone comes and cut it up, but that you get the wood.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View spanky46's profile


995 posts in 4727 days

#5 posted 07-28-2009 11:40 PM

Persistence pays off!

-- spanky46 -- Never enough clamps...Never enough tools...Never enough time.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 5158 days

#6 posted 07-28-2009 11:43 PM

And I thought you had just about run out of room!!! Nice haul, Gary. And you did get a good workout out of it.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View lew's profile


13488 posts in 5092 days

#7 posted 07-29-2009 12:22 AM


That tree crotch should yield some interesting pieces.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile (online now)


23303 posts in 5012 days

#8 posted 07-29-2009 12:37 AM

hang in there, you’ll be a faller pretty soon :-)) !!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 4628 days

#9 posted 07-29-2009 04:21 AM

No wonder Camille was uncomfortable – you reminded her of “Toecutter” from “Mad Max”! (It’s the eyes!)


Kidding! I don’t have any projects going right now (other than building a ClearVue), so this is all I have!

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4718 days

#10 posted 07-29-2009 09:08 AM

LOL! OMG. That is me. Well, I have Halloween this year sorted now. Thanks! :)

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

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