Monday, June 2, 2014
Honoring the Fallen
Due to several years of ongoing drought, I've had to cut down a couple dozen trees on our 2 acres of land since we moved in a couple years ago. This spring I had three more that failed to leaf out and a four others that had leaves on less than half the branches. So perhaps this fall, I will once again be cutting down more trees. With all these trees, I have been trying to come up with ways to utilize them so that their lives will not be in vain. I have more firewood than I will burn in the next ten years. I've tried selling some but with everyone else suffering from the same drought and dead trees, wood is dirt cheap. Because I don't own a splitter and have to rent one, I can't even recoup my cost of splitting it.
So with that in mind last fall, I saved an eight foot section of an oak tree that my brother and I cut down to perhaps use in other creative ways. I would have saved more but at the time I had the notion that I would cut planks out of it and being at the bottom of a steep hill, I wasn't sure I would get more than an eight foot section up and into my garage. I ended up cutting that piece in half, rolling it onto a dolly and dragging the dolly up the hill with a rope, repeating with the second half and that my friends, was all I could physically do for about a week until my body muscles healed back up again.
I let the wood sit out by the firepit for awhile and contemplated how I was going to utilize it. In the end, I thought I would start by squaring off the pieces by removing the bark. I did that and then started to cut one of my squared pieces into planks that I thought I might make into something someday. I did but the planks were just about unusable. Cutting a straight line with a chainsaw freehand turned out to be much more difficult than I ever imagined. By the time I cut the wood out, planed it flat and then laid it away to dry, I ended up wasting much of the wood. Later when the wood was dry, it had warped so bad that to make it flat I again had to plane it flat wasting even more wood. By the time I was done, I didn't have much left over though I've used some of it here and there for small projects, the rest is still waiting for a calling. If I ever try this again, I'm buying one of those guides that you can clamp to the bar of the chainsaw to cut straight lines to begin with and hopefully avoid this process in the future.
I still had the second half of the oak log to deal with and in the end, I just cut it into two squarish pieces and put it in the garage to dry. You can see those two pieces in the picture above. They dried all winter and as you can see checked in the process. I could perhaps square off one side and cut them into small boards after ripping out the checked parts but I decided that I wanted to honor the tree by keeping the grain intact as much as possible. So I pulled out my power hand planer and started flattening out the sides. I then sanded everything down and stained it. It is now serving as a plant stand to help another plant enjoy life near a window. It turned out so well that I think I will repeat the process with the remaining chunk. Each chunk probably weighs around 60 or 70 pounds so once set in place, they aren't going anywhere.