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Old 01-10-2007, 10:07 AM   #1
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Default Staghorn Sumac

Sumac is one of my favorites with its olive green color. It cuts very easy, it's quite a soft wood, and it can be found everywhere throughout northern USA and southern Canada. This tree fell over in an ice storm a month or so ago at a persons house a 1/4 mile down the road, so I asked them for it and they were happy to get rid of it. I chained it to the front of the silverado and pulled it down the street and down into my back yard...it was about 20 feet wide and 20 feet tall with a 14" stump. My wife came home right as I was dragging it across the highway...and she was laughing at me all the way home, no surprise. Who knows what the traffic was thinking as I held them all up a minute.

I salvage woods like this all the time, these smaller trees are a great source of free lumber and very simple to manage. I harvested well over $100 worth of lumber off this tree. Cut it up with your chainsaw, or handsaw to managable lengths...hopefully straight runs. Paint the ends with an oil base paint, I buy the paint at the hardware store for 25 cents...they have tons of old useless cans of paint ( I have some great 1950 mustard yellow ) Name and date the logs, shelve them and wait 5 yrs. Then resaw them on a bandsaw, your good to go. You can resaw them now to save dry time, but you'll loose alot of lumber due to cracking and warping. Small dimensions of lumber do not dry as nice and flat as huge boards do. Don't waste time on logs under 2" across...expect about a year per inch, but a 6 inch log will dry in 5 yrs easily. The biggest piece in the pile is 6" wide and 36" long. The stump was useless, full of rot and worm holes, as is typical of a sumac stump.

This is not the proper drying technique for huge logs that are 10" wide by 8 feet long...that's a log that should be sliced into boards right away.

As soon as these logs melt the snow off them, I'll begin painting, labeling and shelving them. They will do some splitting on the ends, usually loosing about 8 inches off each end from checking, so cut as long a piece as you can. If you have a product like pentocryl...dunk the ends in that, and you won't lose any wood from checking...I can't afford that stuff, I'm just using paint.

Fruit trees are the most stressed lumber you can find...they always dry best using this log method.

I currently have logs on the shelf dated way back to 02. You have to plan and think way ahead. Salvaging lumber is like planning your retirement.
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Old 01-10-2007, 02:08 PM   #2
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if we had an avatar for recycling jeff i'd be giving you at least 3, nice freebie.
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Old 01-10-2007, 05:23 PM   #3
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Great score Jeff! Once you get that lathe, you'll be doing the same thing, only cutting them up into bowl blanks and such. You can turn them green, then dry before finish turning.....and won't have to wait 5 years
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Old 01-11-2007, 06:32 AM   #4
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I'm not so happy with Penn State right now...my lathe still hasn't left their shipping dock. I'm not so patient about waiting for new toys, I want it now !

I'd be real nervous turning wet sumac because it's very fragile. It is very stable far as twisting and warping, but very prone to splitting...it has large summer growth rings, making shrinkage high risk..another good reason for drying in log form with the bark still on it, that slows down the dry time considerably.

but, I have tons of wet ones to give it a try, and I do have dry logs that I haven't gotten to yet too. You can't beat the color and grain patterns of a sumac tree.
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Old 01-11-2007, 12:35 PM   #5
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PSI is getting smacked on a couple turner forums I visit for incredibly LONG shipping times............

As for turning green wood, check out some of my friends work at www.flyingcurls.com They turn green, dry, then finish turn most of what they do....
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Old 01-11-2007, 12:40 PM   #6
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Default Sumac

Jeff...I found your photos of the sumac to be pretty interesting. We have tons of that stuff here in West Virginia but I've never seen one with a trunk that large in diameter. The locals call it "poison" sumac rather than staghorn but it looks identical to your photos other than being much smaller. Actually it's more of a nusiance as it tends to grow in thick groves on the hill sides and is virtually impassable. I have cut literally acres of the stuff while clearing pasture when I owned my farm. Additionally, some people are sensitive to the leaves and have symptoms similar to poison ivy when they come in contact with them. The variety we have has clusters of red, fuzzy cone shaped berrys that are edible. Thanks for the photos.
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Old 01-11-2007, 01:02 PM   #7
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thanx for bringing that up Neal..that's important and I forgot to mention about that topic...Staghorn sumac is different than poison sumac, although the tree is identical in looks, poison sumac does not get the fuzzy cone shape berries on top. That's the only way I know the difference. I haven't met anyone allergic to staghorn sumac, although I''m sure it's possible, but poison sumac can be much worse than poison oak ! If anyone cuts this stuff down, be sure it has the berry cones on it so that you know for sure what it is. I wonder if the sawdust from a poison sumac would be bad...I"m sure not interested in finding out !

thanx for the link Bear.
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