Fallen Trees

A number of years ago, my neighbour at the time (now since passed on) mentioned a friend of his who had just cut down a couple of trees, and they’d be good firewood. There was a lot of that going on in the area at the time, lots of areas once typical southern Victorian farmland having the life subdivided out of them to maximise the return for money hungry, romantically deprived developers.

Stunning trees, both living and dead being stripped away, and often even whole hills being flattened to make way for estates comprising of hundreds of houses (either tiny, or McMansion) on pathetically space deprived blocks.

So if it came down to the wood from the trees being bulldozed to the centre of the block and almost ritualisically burned, or heading home with me as a bit of free firewood, I took that option.

The following winter, I took out my log splitter and axe, and went to work to break the rounds down to something that would fit the fireplace, so I could free the carbon that had been emprisoned in its woody tomb. Things didn’t quite go to plan. Every swing of the logsplitter simply bounced off the log-it was still rather green, and dense, and seemingly inpenetratable. It would be a chainsaw job, and even that would be hard-going for the little home unit I had.

So the logs have sat, and sat, and sat for years alongside the house waiting for me to get the motivation to either find a solution, or to get rid of them once and for all. Motivation was just not forthcoming.

But that all changed with the new electric husquvarna. I needed something to try it out on, and these useless pieces could become a real test for the new tool.

Clamped up tight in the SuperJaws, with some log jaws fitted, the Husky was given a run. Now it may be that the timber had finally made some progress in drying, or the new sharp blade made all the difference (this is the same blade that I managed to land myself in A&E with when I slipped while tightening the blade, so I can testify to its sharpness, first hand so to speak). Whatever it was, the blade sliced easily and cleanly through. The resulting cut revealed something else about the characteristic of the timber- it was spotted gum. 3 slices later, and I had a large cube of it. Cool, but still not sure what I’d do with it. However, more of the character of the timber was revealed, including that after a inch or two where there was checking from the cut surfaces (this was firewood, so it was never waxed at the ends to prevent splitting, and if it had it would have made my job of turning it into firewood a lot easier), the remainder was solid to the core.

The next chapter became realisable when I got a lathe that had heaps of power, took the SuperNova2 with PowerJaws, and had a decent base clearance.

So last night, I took this large lump of spotted gum, and decided it would work best if I resawed it into quarters. With a decent bandsaw, this is not a difficult thing, even with a piece that is around a foot x foot x foot. And I’m running the Carbatec 17″, with good capacity & power. Even bigger would be better, but you have what you have, and this is a very capable machine. One of my favourite things about this machine is the blade tensioner wheel’s location. Very easily accessed- so much better that reaching over the top, and a decent size wheel to boot.

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After taking the photo, I realised I should have changed the blade beforehand- oh well. So I changed the blade to the resaw blade ready to do the business.

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The first step was to cut the cube in two. As you can see from the photo, there are significant checks – after all, this was treated as firewood, not some pristine turning blank.

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I could have used the chainsaw for the job, but there is a time and place for chainsaws, and this wasn’t either. Next, I took each in turn and sawed them down again, producing 4 quarters.

So that was the prep work taken care of, and what then became of one of those blanks is a tale for another day.

Scavenging from the Firewood Pile

This is a mini project in reclaiming timber, destined for the chimney.

It is rapidly approaching winter here down-under, and having a fire in the evenings is becoming commonplace.  I always wonder just what is being turned to ash, and if it could be redirected to more aesthetic purposes (not that staring into a fire in the hearth doesn’t have its own appeal).

This block of redgum seemed more interesting than some, so I thought I’d just see what I could find inside, and if nothing, nothing lost (even the sawdust gets used!).

Redgum Firewood

Redgum Firewood

The first step was running it through the bandsaw.  Given the thickness of the block, I fitted a 1.3 TPI 3/4″ ripping blade, which made short work of the task.  You can just see a short section of the blade behind the block in this next photo.

Creating Sawdust

Creating Sawdust

I slabbed the block in pretty thick sections, so I had plenty of material to work with when machining the boards flat, while still maintaining a reasonable material thickness.

As-cut boards

As-cut boards

So here are the resulting boards, still chunky and rough.  The next job will be to start running them through my stock preparation machines (the jointer/planer, thicknesser (although they are pretty short for that), and the drum sander (with some 60 grit attached).

The plan is, if I can get 4 reasonable boards from this, to then produce a dovetailed box and finish it, so it will be an interesting evolution.  If it all goes pear shaped, then I’m sure the fireplace will make short work of it!

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