There’s more than just snow left on the ground from the Blizzard of 2018. There’s tons of trees. We’ve gotten calls asking if those trees can still be used for lumber. The answer is YES! Here’s what you need to know:

How Big Should a Tree be to get Useable Lumber?

First, measure the diameter of the root end of your log. Diameter is the linear measurement across the log vs the circumference, which is around the log. Ideally, you want a tree that’s between 10-36″ in diameter.¬† ¬†Anything smaller than 10″ will not yield enough lumber to be worth your while. Anything larger than 36″ will require a special type of saw mill that can cut larger trees. We partner with another local sawyer to provide this service when needed, so don’t hesitate to call us if your log is larger than 36″ in diameter.

What Lengths Should I cut my Logs to before Milling?

When cutting your logs for sawmilling, you want to allow extra length for any checking (cracking) that may occur. To do this, simply cut your logs 6″ longer than the length of lumber you want to get. For instance, if you want 10 foot long boards, cut your logs 10′ 6″ long.

How do I Preserve my Logs until the Saw Mill Comes?

The biggest threats to your logs is moisture and insects. If possible, you’ll want to position your logs off the ground. Even slight elevation gets them off the ground so insects are less likely to infiltrate them.

Next, you’ll want to protect against cracking from moisture. To do this, buy latex paint. The color doesn’t matter – it can be the discounted paint that was returned due to being the wrong shade. As long as it’s latex, it’ll work. Take the latex paint and paint both exposed ends of your logs. This pulls the moisture out the end of the logs, rather than building up and releasing in the middle, cracking your entire log.

Does My Lumber Need to be Kiln Dried?

Kiln drying does two things: It kills insects and it dries your lumber faster than air drying so you can use it sooner. Whether or not you choose to kiln dry depends on the type of lumber and what you are going to use it for. Generally speaking, pine will dry quickly and if it’s not going to be used in your house for something like flooring, it doesn’t need to be kiln dried. Walnut, on the other hand, is a very dense wood and can take up to 13 years to air dry! If you want to use your walnut within a reasonable amount of time, you should consider kiln drying it. The denser the wood and the thicker the lumber, the longer it will take to air dry. You also should not send your lumber to a kiln for drying until it reaches around 30% moisture content. It will need to air dry until it reaches that moisture level. When we mill your lumber, we automatically stack it for optimum air flow so that you can use your lumber as soon as possible.

How Long Before I can Use my Lumber?

That depends on the species and what you want to use it for. If you have oak and you want to use it for barn stalls, it’s best to put it up “wet”, without drying. That’s because it will harden in place and be virtually indestructible. If it’s oak for flooring, you’ll need to let it air dry to 30% moisture content, which can take up to six months. Then, it will need to be taken to dry kiln for another month. After that, there’s the tongue and groove process. If you’re intending to use oak from your property for flooring in a new house, we suggest planning a year in advance.

We hope this guide has covered all your questions regarding recycling those storm damaged trees vs paying someone to toss them in a landfill or turning them into firewood. Those trees are pergolas, garden benches, farmhouse harvest tables and barns waiting to be built. Would you toss THOSE in a landfill?! Of course not! So why throw away your trees and PAY someone to do it? If you’re going to spend money to have them removed, contact us and have something to show for it. It won’t cost you a dime to tell us what you have and get a quote.