Is my 44" Diameter 12' Long Black Oak Log with Wind Shake still usable?

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Forum topic by itpropaul posted 03-22-2018 09:10 PM 1119 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 836 days

03-22-2018 09:10 PM

Topic tags/keywords: black oak oak milling wind shake ring shake shake

We just had our huge black oak tree cut down because it was inches from our roofline. Ever since we first bought our house, we had planned on turning it into our dining room table. Being new to woodworking, I wasn’t familiar with wind shake (also called ring shake) and just thought that the waviness in the rings would give the slabs more character. Well I had a mutual friend who owns a portable sawmill come out to look at the logs and he gave me the bad news about the wind shake and that the lumber is probably not worth milling.

Before just cutting all the wood I have into discs and making epoxy or resin supported live edge slabs (my idea of what to do with it short of firewood), what do you all think could be done with this log? Do you think it’s worth trying to mill and see what I end up with after it dries or is that route a lost cause?

I also have shorter ~3 foot sections, most of them also show signs of separating at the rings.

Here’s the album of the 12 footer:

14 replies so far

View Fresch's profile


489 posts in 2691 days

#1 posted 03-22-2018 09:59 PM

Cut it up and sell it to a bar-b-q place. Just need to cut out where the chainsaw cuts ar,(oil).
Cut 4’ up see if the crack is gone.

View Woodknack's profile


13384 posts in 3151 days

#2 posted 03-22-2018 10:10 PM

Your friend is there and can see it first hand, I would lean toward taking his advice.

-- Rick M,

View Jeremymcon's profile


414 posts in 1450 days

#3 posted 03-22-2018 10:28 PM

That’s disappointing. Looks like it goes the whole way through the log! From the pictures it looks like maybe the opposite half of the log is still good? I had never heard of wind shake either – just googled it. That’s a big log! You could probably get most of your table out of half of it depending on how big the table will be.

View BobAnderton's profile


311 posts in 3561 days

#4 posted 03-22-2018 10:53 PM

Quartersaw it. Sure, a lot of the boards will have a split in them. Got glue? Plus, most projects don’t need 22” or 44” wide lumber. You’ll get tons (almost) of usable lumber out of this.

-- Bob Anderton - Austin, TX - Nova 3000 lathe, Alaskan Mark III mill, Husqavarna Saw

View bigJohninvegas's profile


773 posts in 2232 days

#5 posted 03-22-2018 11:30 PM

Wow, I have seen this, but never knew what it was. From what I read it seems to affect the lower part of the tree most often. So cutting a foot or two at a time off the lower end may get rid of the bad section.
Maybe you can salvage an 8’ table. At 44”, do you need more than a single slab for the table top? I would think you would still be able to harvest enough for a single dinning table.
I think it is worth taking a foot or two at a time to find out.

-- John

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William Shelley

609 posts in 2240 days

#6 posted 03-23-2018 12:01 AM

Resin-filled voids in wood seems to be “the fashion” right now. People with money are starting to want to distinguish their furniture from synthetic wood look-alike products. Significant character shows that it’s the real deal and not a clever fake.

I’d say mill it and try to make use of what you can.

Worst case – make cutting boards out of the whole log and sell/gift them.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View Rich's profile (online now)


5608 posts in 1360 days

#7 posted 03-23-2018 12:53 AM

+1 for mill it and fill it. You should see some of the mesquite boards I start with. I use up several ounces of epoxy sometimes just to get them stable enough to work with.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View itpropaul's profile


4 posts in 836 days

#8 posted 03-23-2018 02:16 AM

I just now had a chance to sit back down and read through all of your comments. I really appreciate what everyone has to say and figured there would be a range of opinions, which there is.

The widest my friends mill can cut is 26” and through talking with him it sounds like there would be quite a few barriers we’d have to work through to mill both the 12 footer as well as the shorter ~3’ logs (due to their size and shape). I brought up the idea of an Alaskan chainsaw mill and he seemed to think that if I do want to go for it and try to mill what I can that’d be about the best way to do it also considering the awkward location it’s currently at.

Based on the fact that the majority of you think it’s worth going for, I’m going to seriously consider milling it. I don’t know if I could justify the cost to buy a chainsaw and an alaskan mill setup to handle this oak. I may need to see if I can find someone in my area to help me out with this. I’m in NE Indiana if anyone has any leads for me.

View summerfi's profile


4379 posts in 2458 days

#9 posted 03-23-2018 02:28 AM

The ring shake looks like it only affects half of the circumference of the log. I would definitely mill it. There’s still a lot of good wood inside and outside the shake too. On large logs like this, I split them with a chainsaw so they will fit on the mill. But before you delay any longer you need to seal the ends of the log. If you don’t, you’re going to lose a lot of it to checking, especially if it’s outside in the sun. Anchorseal is the best thing to seal it with. You can also melt paraffin wax and paint it on, but that’s a lot of surface to put paraffin on. Paint helps a little, but only a little.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works -- ~Non multa sed multum~

View Jeremymcon's profile


414 posts in 1450 days

#10 posted 03-23-2018 11:41 AM

I don’t think I’d try to work any of the wood near the ring shake. I was reading an article I found on Google about how ring shake is caused by an infection of anaerobic bacteria in the tree. The wood surrounding the cracks can be partially digested by the infection, can smell bad, could be punky, and also may be impregnated with fatty compounds that the bacteria produce which can affect finish and can also go rancid and smell even worse.

View soob's profile


271 posts in 1979 days

#11 posted 03-23-2018 02:38 PM

Ring shake often gets worse as the wood dries. A slab can twist and the separation can be way too much to bridge with epoxy. The whole thing might also just fall in half.

Now, that being said, there’s a huge amount of lumber in there. He probably doesn’t want to mill it because of how big it is. But if you cut it in quarters with a chainsaw mill you could quarter saw the rest on the bandsaw mill and get some spectacular boards.

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639 posts in 1456 days

#12 posted 03-23-2018 04:56 PM

I’d consider quartering it and using the bandsaw mill

View itpropaul's profile


4 posts in 836 days

#13 posted 03-24-2018 03:59 PM

In response to covering the ends, I did coat them all with 2 coats of 50/50 Titebond II and water, it’s seemed to do a decent job thus far. I took that route because I had quick access to it and it was inexpensive.

I like the idea of using a chainsaw to quarter it and then bandsaw milling it. I’m totally new to turning a tree into usable lumber, so please excuse my rookie thoughts and questions.

I looked up quarter milling and that seems appealing for the oak I have both from an aesthetic perspective with the cool grain pattern and potential for rays/flakes as well as a strength perspective of having the grain be at a 90 degree angle to the board with less potential for cupping/expanding/contracting.

Before finding out that the wood had wind shake, I had planned on doing a full width live edge slab for the dining table, but now I think that’s out of the question. With that said and the thought of quarter milling, would there still be a way to get a similar look of maybe keeping the live edges on and doing a book matched approach?

Please let me know your thoughts and thanks again for everyones advice!!

View itpropaul's profile


4 posts in 836 days

#14 posted 03-25-2018 03:38 PM

After doing some more research, I think quarter milling with a chainsaw and then then quartersawing as OneWithWood did in the first post here: would be my best bet as it allows the bark/live edge to stay on, the truest quartersawn boards are the middle/widest ones and the two middle boards could be bookmatched for the outside of the table. I still wouldn’t get enough width with just two of the best bookmatched boards for the table, so I would need to choose one more board for the center of the table. Or I suppose I could go 4 boards wide, the two center boards being bookmatched and the two outside live edges boards being bookmatched as well.

Again, I’m open to other ideas and input for this dining table project.

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