Apple trees...what would you do?

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Forum topic by Upstatefarmer posted 04-02-2018 12:41 PM 2459 views 0 times favorited 41 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Upstatefarmer's profile


6 posts in 835 days

04-02-2018 12:41 PM

Hello folks,
I’ve got a few larger apple trees on my property here in New York that I’d like to pick your collective brains about. These are “wild” trees that have had no pruning. They are tall and wide trees. I’ve got plenty of the short and scraggly type, too. But, my question to you is, if these were YOUR trees, what would be the optimum thing to do with them (material-wise). There are logs over ten feet long and over a foot wide four feet up. I understand the trickiness of apple wood, but is long lumber the way to go? As wide as possible? Thickness? Or just a lot of pen blanks?

Is it worth even trying?

Thanks in advance!

41 replies so far

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2437 posts in 937 days

#1 posted 04-02-2018 12:46 PM

rent a wood chipper and chip up all the unusable branches into wood chips
for the smoker and BBQ grill. spread the chips out on a large tarp to sun dry
for a few days before bagging or they may rot with high moisture content.

-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View gargey's profile


1013 posts in 1550 days

#2 posted 04-02-2018 01:06 PM

Saw handles come to mind

View msinc's profile


567 posts in 1278 days

#3 posted 04-02-2018 01:24 PM

If it was me and the trees were still alive…I’d prune them way back and see if I got some apples next year. Fruit trees make fruit on “new wood” so they have to be pruned for best results. They are worth more to me for the fruit, definitely not the wood. If they are dead or you absolutely hate apples then as above…chip the whole mess and use it in your smoker or sell it to others that smoke a lot of meat.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2836 posts in 3696 days

#4 posted 04-02-2018 01:35 PM

Apple wood is very pretty! Lots of nice color variations in the grain. It makes very nice wood to carve. You could sell it to wood carvers, especially smaller pieces. And yes pen turners would like it.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View sras's profile


5476 posts in 3904 days

#5 posted 04-02-2018 03:27 PM

If I had a tree like that and it needed to come down I might save a single 4 ft log and a few 1-2 ft pieces. Slab them up and see what happens.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View JayT's profile


6402 posts in 2985 days

#6 posted 04-02-2018 03:59 PM

As gargey alluded to, if they are big enough to get quartersawn lumber from, even in shorter lengths, then people who restore handsaws would love to have some. QS apple is what was historically used on Disston and other American saws.

As others have said, smaller pieces would sell well to turners, carvers and BBQ types (definitely save the limbs and other non-woodworking pieces for them)

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View LesB's profile


2556 posts in 4217 days

#7 posted 04-02-2018 05:02 PM

I’m not sure if this is an arborist question or a wood working question.
If you want the fruit then prune the trees back fairly hard in the early Spring when they are still dormant. They will send out new branches….lots of them. They produce fruit on spurs of second year growth so the second year selectively prune the new growth to thin it out and shape the tree. Fruiting spurs can produce fruit for several years. From then on maintain the annual pruning.
Trees that old may have some unique old varieties of apples so you may want to check that out too; even it it is just long enough to take some grafts to start new trees of that variety.

If you are removing the trees apple wood is wonderful for turning on a lathe. I have made some beautiful bowls from it. Usually the grain of the wood is a bit irregular for slicing in to lumber but short sections would be great for making boxes and other small items. Your biggest problem will be getting it to dry without cracking. If you leave the log sections whole be sure to seal the ends and store it someplace where it can dry slowly over a period of year or more. Don’t seal it in there needs to be some air flow. I just put several large pieces of apple logs under a tarp in a shady place in my yard and will be checking it next year to see how dry it is.
Also as indicated apple wood is great to use in a smoker. I save my lathe shavings for that purpose.

Here is an apple wood bowl I made a couple of years ago. It is about 10” x 4”.

-- Les B, Oregon

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3071 days

#8 posted 04-02-2018 05:24 PM

I would make applesauce and can it.

View Upstatefarmer's profile


6 posts in 835 days

#9 posted 04-02-2018 05:35 PM

I’m enjoying the opinions; please keep sharing.

There are hundreds of apple trees here that offer fruit. Small but wildly varied and begging to be made into cider. These trees do fruit, but thirty feet in the air. They grew amongst other trees and reached for the sky. Hopefully I can post a photo. The straight edge is five feet.



View splintergroup's profile


3787 posts in 1997 days

#10 posted 04-02-2018 07:35 PM

Being the scrounger I am, if I were you I’d section those trunks into 2’ lengths and slice them up into 1” thick slabs on my bandsaw. Seal the ends and sticker for a year or two to dry.
Fruit woods often have nice figure and look great on smaller wood projects (boxes, frames, etc.), hence the short lengths.

Beyond that, I wouldn’t bother with hiring someone with a portable mill to cut planks, there really is just not enough “there” to make it worthwhile.

View summerfi's profile


4379 posts in 2462 days

#11 posted 04-02-2018 07:39 PM

As others have said, apple is a great wood, and the preferred wood for saw handles when quarter sawn. It has a lot of color streaking, and sometimes even has a curly figure. It is an easy wood to work. One thing I’ve noticed about the apple that I’ve cut is that it seems to want to check more than some other woods. That makes it especially important to seal the ends well with Anchorseal or paraffin. It probably would benefit from drying a little slower than some woods as well.

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

View Upstatefarmer's profile


6 posts in 835 days

#12 posted 04-04-2018 12:26 AM

Thanks again for all of your opinions.
I’m a bit surprised!
I’ve read what I could find about apple wood. I’ve seen it quite often written, that finding straight wood in lengths greater than four feet is near impossible, yet no one suggests trying to give that a go. I’ve got plenty of other apple trees that I could make four foot or two foot lengths of. I just never expected that one could look at those trees and say… chip it…

There was a reason I asked you experienced wood workers for advice(my lack of experience).
I’m glad I did. Without it, I probably would have found myself two years down the road with a stickered stack of wildly cupped and warped ten foot apple slabs that I’d be chainsawing into furnace filler!

Thanks, and if you have any other suggestions, please share them. I really enjoy the variety of opinion.

View Woodmaster1's profile


1479 posts in 3361 days

#13 posted 04-04-2018 01:30 AM

I would make bowl blanks and turn them while they are still green. I love to let the chips fly from green wood.

View summerfi's profile


4379 posts in 2462 days

#14 posted 04-04-2018 03:08 AM

If you do have it sawn into boards, sticker it as you said, cover it with roofing tin or something similar (keep it out of the sun) and put a good deal of weight on the stack to minimize cupping and warping. You can also secure the stickered stack with tie down straps to help with cupping/warping.

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

View Upstatefarmer's profile


6 posts in 835 days

#15 posted 04-05-2018 09:45 PM

Does anyone know what size log one needs to make quarter sawing worthwhile?
It would seem that “smaller” sized logs would make for some very thin stock.

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