Sawing Lumber from Cherry and Spalted Maple Logs

The initial slab cut

The initial slab cut

Once in the yard, my cherry and spalted maple logs from the previous post were ready to be sawn up. My son Miles uses a WoodMizer  portable bandsaw mill in his timber framing business, Vermont Heavy Timber, LLC. With an extended bed it will take up to a 45’ long log, and has a 28” wide throat. He can handle a 36”diameter log by nibbling it down, but some of the maple sections would require initial blocking out.

Halving the center section

The 29 foot cherry log was cut into one 11 foot (the maximum length I can put in my solar kiln) and two 9 foot logs. I decided to cut the top log into  plainsawn 4/4 and quartersaw the other two at 5/4. In retrospect I should have cut it all at 5/4 to simplify stacking.

Slicing cant into quartersawn boards

Quartersawing is a way of dicing up the log so that the growth rings are close to perpendicular to the faces of the boards. It makes for lumber that shrinks and swells less across its width than flatsawn boards and cups less. The appearance on the face is of parallel lines as opposed to the parabolic“cathedrals” of the more common plainsawn lumber and the widths are typically less. It’s only worth doing on relatively large logs.

Hollow maple log on the mill

The two bigger logs went up on the bed of the mill. We leveled them so the log centers were parallel to the blade travel and slabbed off the top and bottom thirds leaving enough to get four 5/4 boards out of the center. The top and bottom slabs were set aside and the center cut split in half so that the final cuts would be only about 9” wide and more accurate than if sawing the entire thickness of the log. Then the top and bottom slabs were dogged so their flat faces were vertical and sawn into more 5/4 from 4-6” wide. The whole process went fairly efficiently as I tailed the mill and stacked the boards on the tractor forks.

The tree yielded about 400 board feet of lumber. I stickered it temporarily in the field and covered it until I get it in the solar kiln at home.

Spalted maple bookmatch

The old maple was quite a different story. The thickness of the hollow trunk's ring was only about 6-8” on an overall diameter of 4-5 feet, so I decided to chunk the stuff up into pieces about 3”x8”, small enough that I could asses the character of the pieces and resaw them when dry on my shop bandsaw,  and large enough that we wouldn’t spend too much time on the mill with marginal material. The first log was too big to fit through the mill’s throat (28” wide x 36” high) so Miles unloaded it, cut partially through with a chainsaw and split it with the tractor forks. The remaining pieces were heavy and weak enough that when rolling them on the mill the 8 foot lengths turned into 3-5 foot lengths. It’s always a gamble on material like this, still there was some quite solid and heavily spalted wood with deep color mixed with the considerable waste. That first piece was a big upper section of the trunk that had been in ground contact for a while. It will be interesting to see what the standing portion of the tree yields at our next session.

Cherry boards ready for stickering