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Apple Trees

770 Views 9 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  JCamp
I just picked up a half dozen pieces of Apple trees 3-4 feet long and I am going to get 8 or more pieces about 8 feet long. I was thinking that I could make something beautiful from this Apple Wood (not saw handles) but I'm reading nothing but horror stories about the drying process and the splitting/warping/cracking… It's not worth it if all I'm going to end up with is a pile of fire wood and I'd hate to see that happen. Should it be left round for a year before cutting it into slabs or should it be cut into slabs now? How thick should the slabs be? What about paint or wax on the ends, and clamps to keep it straight? I live in NH, should it be stored in my basement, garage, shed or outdoors with a cover over it? Oh - so many questions and so little knowledge. Any USEFUL advice wood be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance!!!
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I'm not familiar with apple, but all the lumber I've sawn was best when the fresh cut ends were sealed immediately after felling. (I use Anchor Seal). Then the saw logs should be cut into lumber as soon as possible. Do not attempt to dry a log in the round! That's a sure way to get firewood! Stack and weight down the lumber off the ground on a level rack with stickers every 18". Keep a rain and sun cover over it while drying. Let the stack have air circulation.
Regards, The Kentucky Toolsmith!
Fruit woods are prone to cracking during drying. Expect to lose some of both ends. Quarter/rift sawn so you have short growth rings will help, but yield narrow boards. Stack and sticker as suggested above. To decide if it's worth milling, be sure to look at knots or other imperfections that might affect your boards.

Otherwise it sounds like you have good logs for turning or green wood carving projects though.
Apple is also great for cooking up pork!
Apple turns beautifully so if you decide not to mill them into lumber, that is another use of them.

You did not mention the diameter of the logs. If they are large enough that you can cut the pith or juvenile wood out of them and still have usable sizes, it may be less prone to cracking? Most wood will be more stable with the center rings removed. Worth an experiment at least. I would coat the ends with Anchorseal ASAP and refresh after milling. Anything you can do to slow down the ends drying out will help. BTW, the Rockler Green Wood End Sealer is exactly the same as Anchorseal but is much cheaper.
In late spring of 2017 I had a coworker bring in 4 apple logs from a tree that went down in his mother's yard.

I sealed the ends & had it professionally milled and kiln dried. All the boards cupped or twisted (sometimes both).

Since I mostly make small projects- that was okay, I learned how to machine that type of wood & get use out of them. Most of it was sawn to a little heavy 1". Had I known how much the boards were going to move, I would had it milled 1 1/4" thick.

I think it machines very nicely and I really like the color/grain of the projects I have made of it. If you take a look at my projects page you will see some of those projects. I ripped most of them through the pith to relieve any internal stress so I wouldn't have to deal with it after my projects were finished.

Hope this helps-any other questions-let me know.

Bill in MI
Some beautiful wood comes from fruit trees. I just make smaller things with it, due to it's issues as whole sized lumber. This also applies to a good many tree species we have domestically. There is a reason that Oak, Maple, Cherry, and Walnut, are our primary "lumber" woods, they behave better. Some woods like Sycamore, Persimmon, Gum, to name a few of many, are beautiful, just harder to tame.

Bill has a good thought of milling to 1.25" or so, that allows for enough room to dress out any directional changes it makes as it dries.
Because of the way the trees grow and are pruned I think it would be unusual to get apple wood limbs big enough to cut into "lumber" but short boards or slabs would be possible and easily done on a band saw. I have found apple does crack but is not prone to warping that much. If you are going to cut slabs do it now and stack with stickers in a cool dry place for a year or more. Freezing temperatures lowers humidity so be careful of that.

I have a large pile of log sections 4 to 12" in diameter stored under a tarp outside (in western Oregon) that has been drying for 3 or 4 years. The last time I looked some had cracked but usually down the center leaving half logs still useable. I had so much come to me at once I did not take the time treat the ends or anything but I'm sure it would have helped…....a couple of coats of latex or acrylic paint works.

Larger sections I have split vertically in half for future bowls and there was just a little splitting on the ends. Sections that come from a fork in the branch have great grain patterns for turning and veneers. Apple does't have a straight grain pattern that construction lumber wood has it is unpredictable in it's drying behavior.

You didn't mention how you intend to use the wood. I mostly use mine for lathe turnings and it turns wonderfully, but cutting pieces for small boxes and etc. would work to. The problem with short boards if running them through the planer.

Wood turners often rough turn and shape the green wood and store it buried in sawdust or paper bags in a cool place to dry before they finish turning…..or there are ways to dry rough turned items in the microwave oven and that might work for small boards too.

Good luck
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Les I was meaning boards from the other difficult tree species I mentioned. Yeah, fruit trees are smallish craft, and turner sized for the most part.
Since everyone If saying how they crack and bow you might try cutting them really thin in something like 1/8 or 1/4 inch thick boards. They'd make nice veneer or could possibly be tamed enough by glueing them together to make a solid wood ply of sorts. More laborious but seems like a more usable idea. A thin board is much easier to clamp into submission than a thick one
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