Salvaged Holly and questions

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Forum topic by TopamaxSurvivor posted 06-16-2009 07:40 AM 4073 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


19818 posts in 4590 days

06-16-2009 07:40 AM

Topic tags/keywords: salvage holly question

I salvaged this load of Holly today.

It was cut about a year ago. It has been lying out in the open since. Here is the end of an unsealed log.

Here is a nice fresh cut. Some looked pretty dry and others somewhat fresh.

Here is a gnarly piece.

Here is a crotch.

I know Holly is very difficult to dry. I was a bit surprised it is in good a shape as it is. I have very little experience with it. What I have seen is mostly pure white with very little, if any, grain or figure. What I have seen is knots in it which are considered defects. I sealed the new cuts with an anchor seal equivalent.

How long do you suppose it will take this to fully cure for use? More than another year? Does any one turn Holly?

Will there possibly be any figure or grain in the gnarly knobs or crotch?

Will it have to be dyed to bring those out if there are?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

15 replies so far

View Junji's profile


698 posts in 4296 days

#1 posted 06-16-2009 08:40 AM

Ah, these were the questions you were talking about. But sorry, I don’t no idea about these.
But I am sure somebody can answer.

-- Junji Sugita from Japan,

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4248 days

#2 posted 06-16-2009 10:38 AM

I probably can’t give you a useful answer Bob, but I will give you what I know.

I got some nice holly from my DIL’s mother a few years ago. I let it lay around in my shop for a while, not having a suitable project to use it on. It dryed up real quick and just cracked to the point of being useless. It was still a fairly young tree and not nearly the size of the pieces you have there. Sorry, that’s all I have.

Holly is very white with practically no visible grain. To my knowledge it is mainly used for stringing in projects for accents to contrast with darker woods. More experienced folks might have some better suggestions.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


19818 posts in 4590 days

#3 posted 06-16-2009 11:00 AM

Thanks Mike, I have a couple young hollys that I need to cut. I have been wondering about them, they are probably in that catagory. I have been told holy is very dificult to dry. I expected these to be split clear through, but they’re not:-)) I was hoping for salvagable wood, looks like i have it, now if I don’t screw it up!!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View MrWoody's profile


341 posts in 4688 days

#4 posted 06-16-2009 01:07 PM

TS, I have not used Holly, but several guys in the Turning Guild have. Judging by what I have heard, they use it mostly for Finials and as Stefang said accent to darker woods. Again hearsay only; they seem to enjoy turning it. I’m not sure many have had pieces as large as yours.

-- If we learn from our mistakes, I'm getting a fantastic education.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4902 days

#5 posted 06-16-2009 01:17 PM

I have heard that you need to cut it at the correct time of year and kiln dry it right away for it to remain white. If you don’t you get a lot of gray in it. For flat boards it likes to twist a lot when drying.

Holy is the wood of choice for inlays. It turns just fine.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14187 posts in 4897 days

#6 posted 06-16-2009 01:52 PM

Hey Bud
If you plan on turning some of the pieces into bowls or hollow forms … no need to dry

Also if you edit the photo links … move the ! over one space on each end and it will auto load …


-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


19818 posts in 4590 days

#7 posted 06-16-2009 06:52 PM

Thanks for the replies. I had the ! over there and boxes with a red x showed up instead of the pics or the link. Any ideas about that??

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


19818 posts in 4590 days

#8 posted 06-16-2009 07:00 PM

Got PM from GaryK about how to edit the links I copied from photobucket, thanks, Gary :-))

Guess i’ll be the explorer on salvaged holly :-)) I just remembered when I cut it it looked pure white, by the time I took the pics and sealed it, it looked a bit off color that you see in the pics. It was only about 3-4 hrs.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 4642 days

#9 posted 06-16-2009 07:03 PM

I had a friend that cut down a VERY small holly tree in his backyard about 6 mo’s ago and I took the trunk. I’d say 5 inches at the base and 4 inches wide at 5 feet up. Then it branched out into a million smaller pieces that I considered worthless. I’m sure that our friend Gary Fixler probably would have found a cool use for it though (I dont’ have a lathe).

What I did was cut my pieces into 5/4 pieces about 1.5 to 2 ft long each on my bandsaw. I dipped the ends in shellac. I didn’t stack and sticker them because they were so small and just let them dry and warp a little. I’ll either jointe them with a handplane or buy a jointer someday.

Just last night, I happened to hit a piece with a block plane and the rough and somewhat yellowed surface was quite white underneath. I was only out there for about 5 minutes, but I have hope for the rest. Some might have a little staining though. There are almost no knots in the pieces I have because it was growing under some tree cover so it tried growing taller instead of wider, but the spots where there are knots, the knots are ckecked and popping out. The crotch areas that I did take home split every which way.

I’d say after 1/2 a year air drying in my garage the chunks have lost a significant amount of moisture wieght. There is also no end checking or spits to write about from the 8 or 9 pieces I managed to obtain. Hopefully the color is nice and clear and I’ll be able to get a few small scraps. I’m also thinking of trying to sell some on ebay to benefit my church, but I’m wary of selling a product I don’t know much about because I worry that I might have done something wrong to impact the value/quality.

Just an FYI, the woodcraft near me has some holly and it has the same quantity of knots that southern yellow pine 2×6’s from the Borg would have and they want about $20/bft. Good luck and please keep posting pictures during the process. I’ll try to get some pictures of my own up.

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 4642 days

#10 posted 06-16-2009 07:05 PM

also, i doubt you will find figure in the crotch pieces unless it has picked up the fungus that is notorious for adding a blue tinged stain to holly. there is so little color variation within a log, you probably wouldn’t be able to see the figure. now if you were to try some of that dye stuff that trifern just blogged about, maybe that would bring it out, but i don’t know.

View Karson's profile


35229 posts in 5314 days

#11 posted 06-16-2009 07:07 PM

I had a Holly tree cut up by a friend who had a sawmill. The boards are about 10’ long some are 2” and others are 1”. It was all stacked in my shop with other lumber put on top so it looks like it’s flat. I didn’t have any really bad splits. Nothing was put on the ends of the boards.

There is quite a lot of blue stain in the wood. It’s a fungis that causes staining and is the main reason why holly is not readally available. I’ve heard cut down, saw up and get in the kiln the same day. But thats not how loggers work. I heard others talk about microwaving holly wood. I don’t have any knowledge of that.

Here is a Holly table I made.

Click for details

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 4605 days

#12 posted 06-16-2009 07:24 PM

i had some holy given to me and all i can say is i wish i had it kiln dryed straight away and i would at least wax the ends quickly and keep them waxed.

-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View a1Jim's profile


118144 posts in 4491 days

#13 posted 06-16-2009 07:45 PM

Hey Karson
Those tables are great . I’ve heard that holly won’t get the fungi if dried right away also but The only piece I’ve tried to salvage still had the bluing problem.


View johnpoole's profile


74 posts in 4380 days

#14 posted 06-16-2009 08:24 PM

it will get fungi quickly.. yes holly turns well… but no grain to speak of. the bluing problem is perfered for turning a full piece.. snow white is best for an accent on a larger design. i’ve got some large holly on my place but i’ve never seen any that big.. good luck

-- it's not a sickness, i can stop buying tools anytime i want

View HardWoodHead's profile


35 posts in 4278 days

#15 posted 06-22-2009 07:39 PM

Karson>>>>Nice table! I am experimenting with some Yaupon Holly. I live South of Houston, Texas and have tons of it on my acreage but never thought much of it. About a year ago I cut down some stands with three and four inch diameter trunks and only about three foot in height. I remember wondering about it as the stuff was dense and hard. Recently I returned to the woods where I threw the pieces in a pile on the ground with some Pecan limbs. There were the Yaupon Holly pieces still there and dried, no rot and hard stuff! I kept a few decent pieces to use as accenting and found the wood mostly white to light tan in color. Next time I cut more down I will bring it to the shed to dry!

-- Dan Benson---Hitchcock, Texas......Got wood?

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