Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Boards from the Back Yard

Eastern Red Cedars are abundant on our property, taking over at any opportunity.  I am always pulling tiny seedlings out of the flower beds or between landscaping blocks.  The wood is not suitable for an indoor fire as it creates a lot of creosote so we don't cut to burn it as fuel.  Well, maybe a piece or two into the bonfires. 

As an alternative to managing the cedar population my husband is making cedar boards using his bandsaw, table saw and his planer.  They will both look and smell wonderful, plus keep the garage cats out of his tools and other stored items.

First he takes a log and makes one side flat using the bandsaw.  

(See how pretty the inside it.  I neglected to take a photo as he was doing this so don't look too closely at the stuff stacked on top of the wood.  It would not normally be there!)

Next, square up another side 90 degrees to the first side.
Put a fence on the saw- this is a guide that keeps the log straight so you can set the thickness of the cut.
One flat side of the log sits on the table.  The other is up against the fence.  The round part of the log faces out, away from the blade.
Push the log through the blade and you have made a rough board.

After you have the board, the table saw is used to square off the edges. 
The whole log is not cut on the table saw, this is just sitting on it to show you how it started. 

This is a rough cut board.  There is still bark on the edge but bark has to be removed. 

Here are some of the boards he made, in this case for my potato box so they won't be planed.  It won't matter if they are completely smooth.  For his cabinets he will put them through his planer for a nice, smooth edge.  The plan is to build cabinets all over the garage walls, sloping the tops so the cats don't jump up there or just taking the cabinets to the ceiling.  His tools and all the various cans, boat supplies, etc. will have an organized home and the cedar should help keep bugs down.

About a hundred years ago Missouri was one of the top lumber producing states with forests filled with white pine, creating a lumber boom boasting the largest sawmill in the country.  Logging, natural fires and settlers burning the woods to rid them of ticks depleted the supply of trees requiring reforestation.  The  Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) which created state parks, fought forest fires and planted trees.  Soon the Forestry Dept. was created which manages and maintains forests. 
Annual growth of forests far exceeds the amount harvested, ensuring ample forests for future generations. Harvesting and processing trees into wood products gives thousands of people jobs and contributes about $3 billion each year to Missouri's economy. Wood industries provide countless people with the materials necessary to build homes, furniture and other items necessary to our daily lives. Approximately one-third of Missouri is covered by forest land, featuring some of the finest oak, walnut, pine and red cedar trees anywhere.  Missouri Forest Facts Link


Catawissa Gazetteer said...

Here's a link to some history on the Grandin Mill:


I love your talent!

Michelle said...

The wood looks great. I love the smell of cedar.

Candy C. said...

How wonderful that he has the skill to do this! I'll bet it does smell heavenly too!

Yahoobuckaroo's Blog said...

Eastern Red Cedar is becoming very commonplace in the making of tops for classical guitars. Tops are usually made of two book-matched pieces. A typical classical guitar is no more than 15" wide at the lower bout, so the boards for making the top would need to be half that in size. If you have any trees producing boards more than 8" in width, you could have a good second income on your hands.

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

I'll share that info with Tom- thanks!

Catawissa Gazetteer said...

We've got boat loads of 'em. I'll have to resaw some and stack it as matched sets. Is there anyone you would suggest contacting to see if there's a market or if there's some special attributes they need in the wood?

Patricia @ 9th and Denver said...

Wow! That is so nice to be able to make your own boards.
We have a huge long cedar trunk...and no way to cut it. I'd love to have boards out of cedar to line a couple of closets with.
This past year, due to drought, we lost 1 pecan and 1 black walnut tree each. Our neighbors huge pine tree right on the fence line also died. We're concerned now with high winds. Sure don't want any of these trees falling over on us. But getting them cut would be wonderful to use for projects!

Thanks for posting this-- I came here via My simple country living.

Yahoobuckaroo's Blog said...

Hey Tom, I just saw your message. I'm checking around for you now. I can tell you that guitar tops use quarter sawn wood, and I don't know what the thickness needs to be, but I know tops end up being less than 3mm when they're done.

I've also seen solid body guitars made from it. Here's a beauty:


Don't get me wrong. Western Cedar is still used primarily among cedars for guitar tops, and Sitka Spruce is the best wood to use, but good spruce is getting hard to find nowadays. But I am seeing more and more being made from Eastern red.

Yahoobuckaroo's Blog said...

Well, looks like I was mistaken. ERC is apparently not used much in guitars. I've seen a few made from it, but I'm told it isn't used enough to make it worth your while trying to sell to guitar luthiers. After a little searching, I did however find that it's used for a lot of wood flutes, especially the Native American variety, and there are some luthiers in Missouri using ERC for tops on dulcimers and even some fiddles. By all accounts, the wood doesn't have nearly the strength of western cedar, but it's supposed to be a very resonant wood with a bright sound. You might find some luck selling wood to instrument makers around Branson. There's a bunch of dulcimer makers down there.

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

Hey- Thanks for all the research, great potential leads! It will either be some great planter boxes and outdoor furniture if selling it doesn't work out. My neighbor said the sawdust can be made into fire starters and it's such a pretty color- all pinkish. The smell is wonderful!