Milling My 80 foot Redwood #1: 80 foot redwood

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Blog entry by Napaman posted 04-11-2012 03:41 AM 6256 reads 0 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Last week I got sidetracked on SIDETRACKED in order to mill our 80 foot redwood tree that was getting too dangerous to keep. We dont live on a huge tract of land…just a small little home with a smaller front yard…about 60 years ago someone decided to plant a redwood tree…I have seen a picture of it when it was only a year old…and it was tiny…

By 2012 it was so huge for its spot that it had outgrown its safety—-at some point someone had topped the tree years back…so the top 1/3 had these huge branches—-trees themselves really growing off the side of the tree which was waaaaaay too narrow to support itself.

There have been times when branches would fall…no big deal in a forest…but above a city sidewalk, driveway and two houses (including my neighbors master bedroom) it had become too dangerous. One branch could easily kill a person…if the top third cracked in a storm it would take out houses…and if the whole thing went at least half the block would be wiped out…

So we called around to the tree companies…and then I remembered that the former VHS Woodworking teacher had bought a portable mill a few years back…we had not talked in at least a year so I was not sure if he was still milling…he knew some reputable companies that would work with him to bring down the tree and then we could mill some of the logs…

The day it came down was a huge neighborhood event…they limbed the first 50 feet with a bucket truck…and then a huge crane arrived…and they brought down the top two sections with the limbs and limbed them on the ground. It was amazing to watch the crew…they were very safe—-and the best deal out of all the others—-so my “miller” steve helped get me a super good deal.

The best part—-was the tremendous relief I felt when they lifted the lowest 60 feet to the ground in one section on the crane…the core of the tree had a lot of rot—-so all the dangers mentioned above were nothing compared to what we could not see!!! The crane operator said he had not taken down a tree this big with this much rot…so I was so thankful that it was all down safely…

The pict below with the crane driver and the climber making plans shows how big (using them as a reference) the base of the tree was.

With the lowest 60 feet on the ground the crane operator said this section (with no limbs) weight 19,400 pounds!!!

Notice the rot in the pict above——and the rot went all the way through the first section and into the second section for a couple feet…see below…

On the ground they broke the tree up into 4 sections…two we trailored and two the crane lifted over electrical wires, my house and onto my driveway where we then set up the portable mill…

Here is the first log being milled…after this I joined steve on the right side of the mill and pushed for 2.5 days…so not a lot of picts…

Here are the results…MOVE OVER BOAT BUILDS…had to make room in the boat tent…

We cut my 20 foot slabs because they were too big and heavy for me to handle on their own into 12.7 foot “benches” and the wider/shorter ends were still 6 feet long…I am thinking LOVE SEAT for the back yard…so I have 4 slabs in the two sizes (8 slabs)...

And now…my house without my friend…my tree…I am sad but happy everyone is safe and I got some wood out of it…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

23 comments so far

View lew's profile


13547 posts in 5252 days

#1 posted 04-11-2012 03:49 AM

Wow, Matt, I didn’t realize how big the tree was until the picture of the guy near the top!

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

View Brandon's profile


4382 posts in 4448 days

#2 posted 04-11-2012 03:49 AM

Wow, very nice blog post! What to do with all that wood now?

Are you going to plant a new tree in place of the old one?

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Napaman's profile


5535 posts in 5573 days

#3 posted 04-11-2012 03:52 AM

ya…its weird…the pictures really dont show the size…and i can tell you i had walked around that tree 1,000s of times…now with just the stump===the stump is HUGE…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View greg48's profile


635 posts in 4254 days

#4 posted 04-11-2012 04:00 AM

So what does one do with a 6’ stump in his front yard??? I had an 8’ stump in Eureka that was 6’ tall where it had been cut above the butt swell. I used it to build a “fort” on top of it for the kids. It had a hell for stout foundation.

-- Greg, No. Cal. - "Gaudete in Domino Semper"

View Napaman's profile


5535 posts in 5573 days

#5 posted 04-11-2012 04:13 AM

LOL…good idea Greg! If it was in the backyard that would be a good plan…but we will save up some more money and then have it removed…this was the first step in us starting a front yard makeover…so the stump will go…but we cant do it until we can also afford the driveway, sidewalk and walk ways…we cant just open the sidewalk up so we will do it all at once…maybe this summer…

Brandon===I know I want to do a huge bench, an outdoor bar/kitchen…and make the smaller one into a cool bench…the others I will make some NICE gifts or sell…we will see…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1533 posts in 5621 days

#6 posted 04-11-2012 04:18 AM

Set up chairs on the stump and call it a patio! In summer time eat our dinners out in the front yard and it’s amazing how it brings the neighborhood together.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4733 days

#7 posted 04-11-2012 11:02 AM

Thanks for your photos and description. That’s a huge tree to plant in a small front yard. I’d replace it with a dwarf apple tree. LOL Looks like you also got a huge supply of redwood slabs. I can’t wait to see the projects you make from them.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4363 days

#8 posted 04-11-2012 11:07 AM

That is so interesting. Now how many projects do you suppose that wood and a woodworker will deliver one day?


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View spanky46's profile


995 posts in 4887 days

#9 posted 04-11-2012 11:16 AM

Very interesting, when can I pick up my slab?

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

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6883 posts in 5476 days

#10 posted 04-11-2012 11:20 AM

Hi Matt;

I’m sure there a whole different “feel” around your house, without that big tree there. I guess it was bittersweet.

Like an old friend gone. But look at all that wood.

Nice photos, too. With thoses two guys standing next to the tree, you can get an idea how big it really was.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Karson's profile


35301 posts in 5897 days

#11 posted 04-11-2012 11:47 AM

Matt: I can guess the worry about something going wrong with the tree was a big worry.

But now you have a bigger worry. Where did all your space go in your show.

Nice set of pictures, and I’m glad that everyone is safe.

-- 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 Bob817's profile


679 posts in 3879 days

#12 posted 04-11-2012 11:49 AM

Great pictures and blog glad everything went good and safe for you and everybody involved. Theres nothing like a good wood pile to keep you busy and happy, Good Luck and thanks for posting.

-- ~ Bob ~ Newton, N.H.

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 5584 days

#13 posted 04-11-2012 11:59 AM

Very interesting.
Question no one else has asked: What did you do with all that sawdust?

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Napaman's profile


5535 posts in 5573 days

#14 posted 04-11-2012 03:08 PM

Thanks everyone! Yes…from all the comments the one thing I got through on my blog is the relief we felt witht the tree down and safe with no one hurt…

When we started the project we had this order: 1) safely bring tree down 2) watch cost 3) get some wood…

The miller got me a deal with a crane company that was waaaaaay under the bid of the other company that would have used the exact same crane company…and was still lower then another company that would not have even used a crane…and I paid nothing to the miller—-but he did take a bigger portion of the wood…but that was okay with me with all that is going on in my life right now (too much to tell)...

SAWDUST—-There was a TON of saw dust when both logs were milled…Steve the miller took most of it in his truck since he works with teh Native Plant Society and can use it…the remaining I piled up on my drive way and went out in the yardwaste can for two weeks…in fact week 2 is in the can on the curb right now…it is super heavy…

The hardest part is that a process I thought would take 2 days (since we talked about Steve milling the wood off site) took 5 days…so all of my spring break (teacher) was gone…and I needed a vacation when all was done…

Each slab took more then 15 minutes…my stomach, ribs and back all had bruises…and just exhausted…but it all worked out…


-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View shipwright's profile


8821 posts in 4294 days

#15 posted 04-11-2012 03:19 PM

Now you can build a real boat.
Cool photos. Chainsaw mills aren’t the most efficient way to go but when you have that much wood you can go with whatever works.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

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