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Thread: What wood?

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    Member DucksAndDogs's Avatar
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    Default What wood?

    My wife and I put an offer in on a cabin. We're hoping to move in soon. I'd like to build furniture for the cabin. I want to make the rustic log furniture. What would be the best wood, found here (southcentral) to use for this project and how long are you guys letting it cure?

    Thanks!

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    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    Try alder; it's got cool shapes, is strong and elastic. I've been planning to do just that but haven't got around to it. I'd skin it and let air dry prob two years.
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    Black spruce is good to work with as it is easy to find it dead and standing. It is also easy to find a lot of material about the same size .

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Alder and black spruce as previously stated. Diamond willow is also plentiful and interesting.
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    The very best you could hope for is Fire Seasoned/Hardened Spruce. Select the smallest diameter logs you can that fit your needs. Make sure you get them from a burn area...within the past 5 years or so. Longer if the logs were well off the ground (above normal snow depth) and stacked up like pic up sticks as usually happens with a burn area. The area around Big Lake is still good for sound furniture logs. You will need specialized tooling for turning the ends down due to their hardness. Also make the best TiPi Poles.
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    Member DucksAndDogs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akres View Post
    The very best you could hope for is Fire Seasoned/Hardened Spruce. Select the smallest diameter logs you can that fit your needs. Make sure you get them from a burn area...within the past 5 years or so. Longer if the logs were well off the ground (above normal snow depth) and stacked up like pic up sticks as usually happens with a burn area. The area around Big Lake is still good for sound furniture logs. You will need specialized tooling for turning the ends down due to their hardness. Also make the best TiPi Poles.

    Great info. I'm really looking at using a draw knife, no matter how many I go through or have to re-sharpen. I'm not going to go so far as using a hand drill for the holes because I've drilled holes in ice with a hand auger and I don't ever want that pain again. I couldn't even imagine doing it that many times in wood. I'll use a drill for that, but as for stripping the wood and cutting down the ends, I want to remain as "hand tooled" as possible. Plus, I like the character it gives to the wood having all the knife marks.



    **Disclaimer - this is my original plan. Although, I'm not naive enough to think it may be overwhelming and require my purchasing a fancy automatic tenon maker thingamajigger.

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    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    You'll prob wind up buying that tenoner anyway, D&D; joints will be stronger if precisely mated. You could take a knife and whittle the chamfers down afterward for the hand hewn look. Make your life easier, just sayin'.
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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Having used black spruce from the Millers Reach burn area near Big Lake I can offer up some info.

    There is still a lot of standing dead out there. Folks don't mind if you salvage as long as you ask first. There is state land out there as well. Every trunk I pulled out for my project was 90% or less bark free. Dark grey in color. Most the limbs were burnt back to within a few inches of the trunk until you get about half way up the trunk where the fire was less hot.

    I used an 8-inch disk sander to knock the grey weathered outer wood and limb stubs off the trunk. This left the thousands of small cracks and checks still dark - stunning visual texture. The sander gives a surface that looks tool finished. Where ever the bark was still on the trunk the wood is very light compared to the weathered portions. For asthetics you will want to remove the weathered wood surface, even though on some trunks it is quite stunning.

    The spruce is surprizingly hard so I don't know how much fun a draw knife would be. The limb stubs would snap off and could dent the knife edge due to their hardness. With a draw knife I would follow the grain and work only from the bottom up.

    A lot of the trunks have large checks/cracks in them from the spurce untwisting as it dried. These can play havoc with figuring out which piece to use for what part of your project. You will do lots of hands on layouts to make sure that the trunk sections will work for your design. The edges of the checks/cracks are sharp. Not as dangerous to handle as formica countertop material but don't run your figure down one while stopping to admire your work. Or where gloves. Some days I am just stoopid.

    If you are going to finish the spruce you need to use compressed air to blow out all the crack/checks. The have been filling up with debris and glacier silt dust for almost 20 years now. I left mine raw since it felt so good in the hand that way.

    The trunks taper a lot and no two are the same size which calls for either the log furniture tenon drilling system (Lee Valley and Rockler sell them - they are not to be used with bit and brace hand drills) or a lot of hand cut joints. I built three or four jigs out of scrap to route my joints on my project. Each one was custom fitted and took hours to set up. I had tested cutting tenons with a hand saw, but the grain of the spuce caused the saw to wander too much and I opted to use a router with jigs and fixtures.

    I have no photos of my project or its construction. However, it can be viewed by anyone that takes a tour of the Anchorage Waldorf School on Baxter. Look for swing out wings on one of the large chalk boards in one of the relocatable classrooms. Very organic looking, and half the weight of the other chalk board wing systems of the same size.

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    what are you building? for a bed frame I'd go with spruce, so chairs, you can make really cool looking stuff outta willows.
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