found wood #12: Is there such a thing as *too much* Jacaranda? Let's find out...

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 07-29-2009 10:06 AM 3721 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: O frabjous day! Free Jacaranda! Part 12 of found wood series Part 13: wood gloat: superior grade alder scraps »

In part 2 of this saga, I got a call from Camille who’s lawn was coated in freshly fallen, fungally rotten Jacaranda mimosifolia. Her call awoke me with a start this morning, and soon I was at her house, borrowing her electricity for my electric chainsaw, and cutting up what I could. One heat stroke, or heat exhaustion later, and I drove away with a truck full of limbs. I ran home for my second shower and change, then off to work, then ran home at lunch (nice living 1.5 miles away) to dump the logs on my driveway:

Jacaranda logs on my driveway

Jacaranda logs on my driveway

With the truck empty, and saws loaded back in, I rushed back over to Camille’s (nice that she’s one street over). Here I post 2 pics from the previous entries on this tree just for comparison. Here’s the tree as I found it:

fallen Jacaranda

Here’s what I left behind after a bit more than an hour of cutting and loading things this morning:

fallen Jacaranda cut up

And here’s how I left it after another ~45 minutes of cutting and loading through my lunch break (though I snagged the pic later, on the way home after work):

yard cleaned of fallen Jacaranda

Chamille was home, and extremely pleased when she came out to see what I’d done. I was glad to repay her a bit with a pretty clean lawn for kindly letting me use her electricity (behind the couch in the living room) for my saw, and for letting me onto her property for a couple of hours of cutting.

I snipped all the sub-2-inch branches with the chainsaw and threw them in a pile by the road, picking up everything but tiny twigs. This gave me great access to get to each branch as I progressed through the limbs, without tripping over piles. It was pleasant, easy work. I also cleared out her Agapanthus bed so she could assess the damage and get her flowers sorted out again. I felt like an urban lumberjack.

remaining tree trunk and branch pile

No way I was getting through the trunk. If I were a gambling man, I’d lay good money on that thing being over 1000lbs. Note where the caution tape is, and follow the branch stub across the ground to the right. I cut a chunk off the end of that that unrolled is probably 3.5’ long, and it had to be 150lbs. It’s less than half the diameter of the trunk, which is probably 12’ long. That it tapers to a much narrower end matters little in my estimate. That thing would flatten a car.

And here’s the second load, back home:

second load of Jacaranda in pickup bed

There’s a big burl in the front there, by the driver-side cab glass, though Jacaranda being notably uniform and rather texture-free, it might not yield anything but a larger, pre-globular chunk ready to be turned into some uniform, boring bowls. If that’s the case, I’m counting on some cool effects with layered dyes. Here’s hoping.

second load of Jacaranda in pickup bed

I met another neighbor while unloading the second load, and moving it with the first load behind my tarped fence here:

my tarped fence, which hides much of my wood collection from prying eyes

I have a cat who visits me all the time. She’s really pretty as cats go, and almost as friendly as a dog, always rushing over to see me, even when I’m throwing huge logs around, meowing loudly to announce her presence. She once sat directly under a log I was sawing, letting dust pile up on her head as I laughed, until I finally coaxed her out of harm’s way. I have to strain not to drop anything on her, as she likes to attack the ends of logs I’m carrying, and sniff them as I lower their ends to the ground.

Today, she went behind the gate, and emerged limping badly for reasons unknown. There was nothing behind the gate, no logs fell on her, and a quick check showed no embedded objects. Still, she hopped about on just the front and back left legs, and cried in pain whenever she tried to put that back right foot down. I couldn’t take much of it, so I picked her up for the first time, which she calmly allowed, and carried her in the direction whence she always appears. The neighbor there was indeed the owner, and apparently her name is Abby. He thanked me for bringing her home and said he’d get her to the vet. Relief! Hope she’s okay. I love her visits.

So here’s the larger wood pile, with a sweaty me for some scale:

me with huge Jacaranda log pile

And opposite that is the smaller log pile, great for smaller turnings:

me and a pile of smaller Jacaranda logs

This piece is deceptively heavy, and I’m putting it close to 150lbs. It was a major hassle to hoist it into the truck bed, and I have a rash of burst blood vessels on my right shoulder to prove it. Check out what it did to my makeshift dolly:

broken dolly, care of heavy Jacaranda log

Jacaranda must be mostly water. I think it’s time to give in and get a proper furniture dolly for this stuff. This got me by for free for a few months.

Oh, and no worries, I rushed back out in the fading light with my pail of Anchorseal, and a 4” paint brush, which I use exclusively for sealing now, and hit every cross section I could see, applying a thick layer. Many logs were already showing narrow checks around the piths, usually in 2 opposing directions. I don’t want to lose more logs to severe checking like I did with some of those European olives.

one last shot of the broken dolly and large Jacaranda log pile

After sealing these up, I went in and took my 4th shower of the day, and did a full load of dirt and sweat caked laundry :)

Camille said she’d call me if she spotted the tree men working on the large trunk, and if I felt like it at the time, maybe I could swing by and see if they’d section up some of the large pieces and help me hoist them into my truck. Not sure I really need any of it now, except that it might be nice to work with larger bowl and vase pieces that have a much larger, more subtle concentric grain. Too, having these logs for proper bowl work would mean I could quarter them and still probably be larger than the capacity of my 12” Jet lathe.

We’ll see… if I’ve healed up, and have any room left at home.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

7 comments so far

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3892 posts in 4774 days

#1 posted 07-29-2009 12:16 PM

My God Gary, you make bees look lazy!
Congrats on the lady finally letting you in on the wood.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2659 posts in 4863 days

#2 posted 07-29-2009 02:01 PM

wood wood wood I can hear the chat even up here… There can never be enough wood! Go Gary Go

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4677 days

#3 posted 07-29-2009 02:34 PM

good lord , gary ,
you are going to have to open
a mill soon !
or get a camper shell ,
for the truck to live in ?
your place is going to be
a landmark in l.a. soon ,
like the watts towers ,
” lax , we just passed garys woodpile ,
need final approach clearance , over . “

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


23303 posts in 5012 days

#4 posted 07-29-2009 03:21 PM

Go for the trunk Gary!!

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

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 5123 days

#5 posted 07-29-2009 09:03 PM

You are blessed to have that oppurtunity. Doing the hard work doesn’t hurt any either. I got a kick out of your homebuilt hand truck. Nice.

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4718 days

#6 posted 07-30-2009 06:29 AM

Thanks for sharing in the excitement with me everyone!

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View oldwoodman's profile


137 posts in 4734 days

#7 posted 07-30-2009 06:35 AM

Once again, sir, a most enjoyable post. I hope someone is chronicling this saga. This is worthy of inclusion in some woodworking magazine. Somebody notify the LA Times!!!!!

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