Free(ish) Wood

A couple of weeks back a pretty powerful storm came through the area and ended up knocking power out for some people for a few days.  I was lucky enough that this did not happen to me, but it did end up doing a fair amount of damage to the golf course my dad works at.  He lost around 30 trees and the trunk of a tree snapped and fell right on the roof of a member’s 3 week old Camaro.

As the saying goes though, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.  No, I did not get a smashed Camaro, but there were some nice trees that came down in the storm that we are hoping to be able to use in the house.  Among these were English Elm and Black Cherry trees.

We had the trees milled and were able to get a lot of English Elm from it and a decent sized pile of Black Cherry.  I am not sure what to use the Cherry for because there is not enough of it to finish any substantial portion of the project, but I am planning on using the English Elm as the siding for the house. My dad called a friend he has from Morton Arboretum (for those of you who have never been, I highly recommend it) who is an expert in trees to inquire about the rot resistance of English Elm.  He in turn called international colleagues, one of whom was from Ireland and knew more about English Elms than he did.  The experts confirmed that English Elm is known as a rot resistant wood, which means I will be using it on the exterior of my house if it doesn’t warp too much during drying.

Here are some of the pictures of the logs being milled and some of the final products:

As you can see from the pictures, a lot of work goes in to milling logs.  It ended up taking them 2 days to mill all the wood.  The largest pile seen is all the English Elm.  All of it came from just 2 logs that were roughly 3 feet in diameter by 10 feet long.

Originally we thought it would take close to a year to dry the lumber just air drying, but more research led us to believe it could dry enough to use in as little as 8-10 weeks!  Also, because we are using the majority of it on the exterior of the house, it does not need to be as dry as it otherwise would be.  I am really just hoping it does not warp too much in the drying process.  If all goes well, we could start putting up siding by the Fall!

Contrary to what the title of the post is, the lumber wasn’t exactly “free”.  We had to pay to have it milled.  Compared to what it sells for though, we got it at a fraction of the cost.  Also, I had originally planned on using rough sawn cedar as the exterior facade, which would be extremely expensive.  Much more so than the cost of milling fallen trees.

That is all I have in terms of wood for now.  I am still designing my walls around the windows and am toying with the idea of stairs with drawers in the risers instead of a narrow walkway to a ladder for the loft.  Let me know what you think!

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One Response to Free(ish) Wood

  1. freryder12 says:

    Kie –

    I love that you are able to firsthand learn about what goes into building things by building your own project – literally from the raw materials up. When you are done you will be hugely proud of what you have put together for yourself. You will have learned economics and logistics in the process as well. I am loving watching the progress you are making!

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