Apple tree into useful lumber.

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Forum topic by AdamR posted 08-12-2019 08:28 PM 653 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 43 days

08-12-2019 08:28 PM

Topic tags/keywords: fruit wood apple lumber live edge

I recently cut down a rather large apple tree that was in my backyard. Currently, anything that was 1-3 inches in diameter was cut into 16” lengths for use in a smoker. The remaining limbs and trunk range in diameter from 5-19 inches.

I enjoy making things with wood but so far they have been quite simple. Last year for Christmas, I made two cutting boards from firewood and limbs that I found in the woods. I absolutely love the creative aspect and challenge of taking something that is completely unfinished and turning it into a useful item.

I’m looking for suggestions and recommendations on how to best cut up the remainder of the tree. The link below has several photos of the limbs, trunk and cutting board.

-- Adam, Virginia

13 replies so far

View splintergroup's profile


2830 posts in 1706 days

#1 posted 08-12-2019 08:50 PM

I’d begin by cutting the large pieces into shorter lengths (16” to 24”).
Depending on what tools you have available, you could begin by using an axe/froe/maul to split the wood just like prepping for firewood, cut ‘pseudo’ planks with a chain saw, or use a bandsaw. The axe/froe method produces parts with continuous grain which is useful for anything that will be bent. The chainsaw makes ok boards but wastes a fair amount of wood. A bandsaw will get you the equivalent of “rough cut” wood from a lumber yard.

You could also try and find someone with a saw mill willing to cut the wood, but I think it is on the small side of what most mills are willing to work with.

Once you have the wood slabbed out, you need to dry it. Plenty of instructions here at LJs, but basically you seal the end grain and stack it somewhere to air dry.

Everything gets turned around if you are interested in shaping things on a wood lathe. You only need chainsaw chunks sized for your needs.

Apple can be beautiful wood. Good to see you are thinking beyond the smoker 8^)

View bigblockyeti's profile


5901 posts in 2204 days

#2 posted 08-12-2019 09:05 PM

I’m considering the same with a bradford pear that I have to take down. From the ground to just a little over 6’ it has a diameter of at least 15” and it seems a shame to just buck it and split it into firewood for a smoker. I’ve never worked with bradford pear but it seems very dense when wet and still pretty darn heavy even after it’s dried out for over 2 years.

Do you know where anyone has a sawmill you could take the trunk to (that would slice up a yard tree) and have it flat sawn?

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View AdamR's profile


4 posts in 43 days

#3 posted 08-12-2019 10:38 PM

I own or have access to most of your standard power and hand tools.

Having odd length logs larger than 6” in diameter slabbed out isn’t an issue. I usually give the logs that I find, to my parents. They, then take them to one of their Amish friends, whom cuts it to my desired dimensions.

Currently, my biggest uncertainty is trying to figure out what natural features to leave or cut out i.e. the ‘V’ formed by two branches or the trunk.

-- Adam, Virginia

View ibewjon's profile


924 posts in 3277 days

#4 posted 08-12-2019 11:32 PM

Woodmizer has a list of people with their Mills near you. I have 2 near me and use them often. One I haul the logs to, the other comes to me. Remember to seal the ends and store inside away from insects. There are little borers that love fruitwoods.

View bigJohninvegas's profile


664 posts in 1946 days

#5 posted 08-13-2019 12:16 AM

Currently, my biggest uncertainty is trying to figure out what natural features to leave or cut out i.e. the V formed by two branches or the trunk.

- AdamR

I harvest a lot of my own wood. Mostly for turning, but I have got a few short boards here and there. I have learned to leave the logs as long as you can manage until you are ready to use or process it.
Seal up all the end grain. I have tried out most of the end grain sealers, and I have found that the tite bond 2 wood glue I keep on hand works as well as anything. Better than most of the advertised sealers. And cheaper too.
As far as V shapes, or crotch pieces. With a large enough log. A book matched slab with a crotch section in it looks great. But if you cannot work it into a board. The crotch pieces will make great turning blanks.
Smaller logs are cool too. I have been doing some live edge work. Larger tables so far, but it has me thinking.
Book case, or wall shelves.
Googled live edge shelves and got this.
So many cool things to do with smaller logs.;_ylt=Awr9DtBu_1Fd4kAAjARXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0NjZjZzZhBGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNwaXZz?p=live+edge+shelves&fr2=piv-web&fr=mcafee

Live edge book case;_ylt=Awr9Fqp4_1FdhF0AXWqJzbkF;_ylu=X3oDMTBsZ29xY3ZzBHNlYwNzZWFyY2gEc2xrA2J1dHRvbg--;_ylc=X1MDOTYwNjI4NTcEX3IDMgRhY3RuA2NsawRjc3JjcHZpZANrZ1VTZHpFd0xqSWU4QkluV2Joall3SThOekl1TVFBQUFBQndaelJnBGZyA21jYWZlZQRmcjIDc2EtZ3AEZ3ByaWQDUTdVQVk0eTVRWnFyMHl2RkMwMlc1QQRuX3N1Z2cDMARvcmlnaW4DaW1hZ2VzLnNlYXJjaC55YWhvby5jb20EcG9zAzAEcHFzdHIDBHBxc3RybAMEcXN0cmwDMjUEcXVlcnkDbGl2ZSUyMGVkZ2UlMjBib29rJTIwY2FzZQR0X3N0bXADMTU2NTY1NTMxOA--?p=live+edge+book+case&fr=mcafee&

I have a couple of 6’ apricot logs drying. Another year and I”ll slice them up on my band saw. See what sort of boards I get out of them. Its only been in the last year that I have looked at the locally harvested wood I find and have thought of more than the next turning blank.
Good luck.

-- John

View farmfromkansas's profile


125 posts in 98 days

#6 posted 08-13-2019 01:25 AM

I saw my own lumber, and find if logs are left too long, I get cracking, which if left long enough, all it is good for is firewood. For the best lumber, cut into boards right away. End sealing is a good thing.

View therealSteveN's profile


3656 posts in 1058 days

#7 posted 08-13-2019 05:32 AM

Cut to lengths you will want. Seal the ends last week, it really is a right now thing to do. Apple can check terribly bad, and of course a lot of the bugs come at the cracked easy to get into ends.

Off the ground storage, covered on top only, and spray the ground around heavily for bugs. I usually buy a cheap HF tarp and put it down first, and concrete blocks to hold stickers off the ground, sticker it out, you DO want air to move freely around it for almost a year if you cut to thicker pieces.

After air drying you can bring it in to continue to air dry, or after 3 months or so take it to a kiln. You want to shed that initial wet weight first, Heavy and wet can be 35%, dry and lighter can be around 12% To work it around 7% is primo, Air drying for most of the country is 1 year per inch of thickness, over 2, and it adds up quickly, but can be a longgggggg dry time.

I don’t see a location for you, but in the South, SW those times can be much shorter, just because of longer warm periods.

I m considering the same with a bradford pear that I have to take down.
- bigblockyeti

If you turn it is great for that. As lumber it does the Twist and Shout with the best of them. If you want to try that. I would suggest thicker cuts, so when it gets tired of doing the cup, curl, and shout you have plenty of thickness to work with.

-- Think safe, be safe

View AdamR's profile


4 posts in 43 days

#8 posted 08-13-2019 10:33 PM

I had planned on having the thickest pieces sawn into slabs of probably no less than 1-3/8” thick. I live in Virginia and we have a decent amount of fairly warm weather.
I don’t do any turning but had planned on cutting some of the pieces to a size that could be used by someone. There’s a large three limb fork that could be interesting.
Can anything be done with the stump and associated root ball?

-- Adam, Virginia

View ibewjon's profile


924 posts in 3277 days

#9 posted 08-13-2019 11:04 PM

Lok up walnut stump on LJ’S,. Someone had the energy to dig one out. Depends on how much energy and time you have. Possible table base.

View Steve's profile


1574 posts in 1066 days

#10 posted 08-19-2019 02:11 PM

Adam, where in VA are you located? I’m up in Northern Va

View Tim's profile


3852 posts in 2445 days

#11 posted 08-19-2019 08:39 PM

As Steve said apple wants to split and check badly. Therefore I would recommend having it milled it as soon as you can in the longest lengths you can. The ends will check, but you should have some wood in the middle that won’t. I also agree with putting anchorseal on it last week, but since you can’t do that, do it right away. Other sealants will help a little, but anchorseal works better and apple is a wood that needs it. Also sticker and stack it and weigh it down with the heaviest objects you can on top of the stickers and/or use ratchet straps. The idea is to apply the weight/pressure where it is stickered, not where it isn’t so you won’t warp it.

As for one use, the tight fine grain of apple is great for tool handles. Us hand tool guys are always looking for sources of wide enough apple boards to make hand saw handles since that’s what many of the high quality antique saw handles were made out of.

There’s a good detailed forest service publication on the best ways to dry wood to minimize checking. I can find a link to it if you’re interested.

View cracknpop's profile


353 posts in 2833 days

#12 posted 08-21-2019 01:29 AM

A friend cut down his apple trees. I grabbed anything of size from his burn pile. It had already been several days since cut down and you could start to see cracks in the ends. I painted the ends with thick coat of latex paint as that was all I had. I set them aside for over a year. I wish I would have cut them into slabs and stacked them from the beginning.
Apple tends to check really bad. BUT it can be gorgeous! Like others have said above… paint the ends ASAP. Get them cut to slabs fairly quickly and sticker stack them.

My apple wood checked quite abit and pretty much yielded alot of small pieces. I did what I could with it…
A couple really cool cribbage boards:

And a few end grain cutting boards:

-- Rick - I know I am not perfect, but I will keep pressing on toward the goal of becoming all I am called to be.

View AdamR's profile


4 posts in 43 days

#13 posted 08-21-2019 08:40 PM

Adam, where in VA are you located? I m up in Northern Va

- Steve

I live about 10 miles east of downtown Richmond.

-- Adam, Virginia

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