Is it worth milling or just chuck it in the wood stove?

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Forum topic by deparrott posted 03-27-2013 04:32 PM 2155 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View deparrott's profile


91 posts in 2713 days

03-27-2013 04:32 PM

Topic tags/keywords: soft maple firewood lumber turning squares bowl blanks maple tree green wood question lathe milling woodburning

The local power company wants to cut our tree down and has marked it with a big red dot. I’m not really upset about this because it Really is time. This tree as I call it is really just the overgrown suckers that sprouted when the original tree came down before we purchased our home over 25 years ago. There were originally 7 or 8 of these suckers, some have been cut down over the years because they leaned towards the house

I am having a hard time deciding what to do with the wood. The tree is soft maple and probably isn’t worth a lot but I hate to just chuck it into my wood stove. In looking at the base I’m thinking there maybe some interesting grain found there and put to good use on my mini lathe.

I still have some time before it comes down and just need some other opinions. Do any of you think this wood would be worth having cut into boards or turning squares? I do have a lead for an individual with a small mill so I wouldn’t have the expence of a large comercial business to deal with.

I appreciate your comments.


21 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5929 posts in 3100 days

#1 posted 03-27-2013 04:44 PM

I’m very new to turning, and the guy who sold me my lathe gave me some soft maple (Silver Maple) small bowl blanks and other turning squares. These things have been a nightmare….lots of chipping and tear out. That said, I like soft maple for flat work, since it usually has more interesting features. But, it also makes great firewood. So, I think I would save some small pieces for turning and burn the rest. Besides, I’m not sure that’s big enough for lumber.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 2555 days

#2 posted 03-27-2013 04:44 PM

The only thing about burning maple is it has a higher ash content

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 2499 days

#3 posted 03-27-2013 04:54 PM

I see a figure-8-shape live-edge coffee table top in that tree 3’-5’ above ground level (judging by the shed door). The rest for firewood and a few outdoor rustic log benches.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View shampeon's profile


1900 posts in 2790 days

#4 posted 03-27-2013 05:52 PM

I would mill it into slabs. I’ve never turned soft maple, but I’ve used it in other flat projects and I’ve been happy with it. You might get some nice figure toward the trunk as well.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

598 posts in 3924 days

#5 posted 03-27-2013 05:54 PM

Like Fred said, it’s hard to work with if you’re turning or doing other fine work, as it chips and tears very easily.

I’d cut it into boards and lay them up for a couple of years. Prices around here for a portable sawmill are around 20 cents/bf. That’s less than 10% of what you’ll pay to a supplier.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View sprucegum's profile


324 posts in 2605 days

#6 posted 03-27-2013 06:18 PM

I see a couple of decent enough logs if you can get someone to mill it I would go for it. I doubt that you can get it done for .20, that would be like working for the fun of it on a small job like that but if it costs double that it is still cheaper than going to the lumber store. Sometimes I have had logs sawed and sold most of the lumber and actually came out with free lumber plus pocket change. Just a guess but by looking at the pictures I bet you would get 300 bdft of sawed lumber and near 1/2 cord of fire wood from the top wood.

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

598 posts in 3924 days

#7 posted 03-27-2013 06:28 PM

sprucegum is right – it can certainly run more than 20 cents/bf. I paid 20 cents per linear foot and, because of the thickness I had him mill and average width of the boards, it equalled 20 cents per boardfoot. But that was on a fairly high volume, and he may have wanted extra had the job been smaller.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3297 days

#8 posted 03-28-2013 02:02 AM

$.75 a BF seems to be the going rate for milling logs where I live.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Dakluc's profile


1 post in 2494 days

#9 posted 03-28-2013 02:10 AM

That is a silver maple tree which is relatively soft. If you could get the to cut it in 6 to 8 foot chunks you should be able to, with some research find a local in your area with a portable saw mill that would probably trade you some of the wood to mill it into planks. Right there at the base where all the leads meet would not be very good wood to work with as once you start cutting into it it is very likely to start falling apart du to all the included bark you will find in there.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30505 posts in 2945 days

#10 posted 03-28-2013 02:14 AM

I never pass on wood regardless of type

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Robert_T's profile


10 posts in 2543 days

#11 posted 03-28-2013 04:52 AM

My inclination would be to keep it. But two things to keep in mind, it will need to be milled and even if you have the equipment it is very heavy. And two the wood needs to be stored for a year or two before you can use it and it will take up a lot of space.

View sprucegum's profile


324 posts in 2605 days

#12 posted 03-28-2013 11:12 AM

If Dakluc is correct and I think he is and that is a silver maple the stuff turns really good. You could saw a block off from that stump that I see in the picture and split it like you would for fire wood and try turning some. I have a little in the shop it is pretty easy to work with, does not take stain well but it sands great and I love it for painted projects.

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

View Moron's profile


5046 posts in 4500 days

#13 posted 03-28-2013 12:51 PM

2 cents

looking at the pics I notice all the trunks have a bend/cup/bow to them and therefor suspect that after it is milled into timber, that the boards will also cup just like the tree,……..forever.

Timber companies look for trees that are straight but this isnt to say that it wouldn’t make for nice furniture where slight curves can be advantageous to design or turned bowls etc

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View gridlockd's profile


147 posts in 2991 days

#14 posted 03-28-2013 03:02 PM

I would definitely keep it. mill it about 1” to 1 1/4” thick. attic stack it and let it dry. if it cups a bit, you have enough thickness to plane it flat. you can’t tell from looking at the outside if it’s gonna have curl or striping inside, but even with very little figure, it’s still great for making small furniture and such. also, soft maple is amazing for spalting. cut some chunks, anchorseal the ends, toss them in a pile of wet leaves and sawdust, cover with black plastic, in 6 mos. you’ve got some nice spalted turning blanks! My experience with soft maples has been that if you’re getting excessive tear out, your tools aren’t sharp enough.

I agree with Monte, I never turn down free wood.

-- Gridlockd

View REO's profile


929 posts in 2681 days

#15 posted 03-28-2013 03:40 PM

Those would be just fine for lumber logs. bent logs doesn’t mean bent lumber. proper drying technique will give you useable lumber. the most ugly logs yield the most beautiful character. soft wood requires sharp tools.

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