A couple of weeks ago, in Woodworker’s Journal eZine Issue 310, Woodworker’s Journal editor in chief Rob Johnstone wrote in his introductory editorial about a friend who’d questioned him on the viability of cutting his own lumber for a project. Rob asked eZine readers if any of them had ever chopped a tree down, turned it into lumber and built a project. Many of them had — including Herb Brodie, who shares his story here.
Archive for the ‘Trees’ Category
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You may remember that, about a month ago, Chris Marshall brought you news of Rockler Woodworking and Hardware’s goal to support the planting of 20,000 hardwood trees through donating the price of a tree to the Hardwood Forestry Fund for every purchase made during the April timeframe leading up to Earth Day.
We’re happy to report that the initiative was successful — in fact, they reached the 20,000 tree goal even earlier than they’d hoped. Rockler’s marketing vice president, Scott Ekman, commented that, “The event has been hugely successful and has received overwhelming customer support.” The 2012 initiative had doubled the goal of new trees planted from the same program last year, raising it from 10,000 in 2011 to 20,000 in 2012.
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Here’s a cool thing Rockler Woodworking and Hardware is doing for Earth Day this year, but if you haven’t made a Rockler purchase lately, you might not be aware of it.
From now through April 22—Earth Day—Rockler will make a donation to the Hardwood Forestry Fund for every online, catalog and retail purchase made. The company’s goal is to double the number of new trees planted last year on its behalf to 20,000 this year.
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I mentioned yellow poplar last month in my post about the Southern yellow pines, so I thought it would be appropriate to follow up on that. Yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipfera), or tulip poplar for most of us Southerners, is one of two trees in the genus Liriodendron. The other is a native of China. Neither are true poplars. True poplars are in the willow family of trees, which also contain the genus Populus (cottonwoods), and which is Latin for “people” and was also the Latin name for “tree.” (I could get confused, too, if I didn’t write all this stuff down.)
Deep breath; I’m almost through.
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A common autumnal sight is a squirrel, busily scurrying to bury his winter food supply of nuts. Have you ever thought about how much these furry little beasts have in common with woodworkers?
For one, both share a fine appreciation for oak.
Squirrels, however, may be even more discerning than woodworkers in distinguishing between the red oak and the white oak of this species. You may recall that forester Tim Knight, in his post on this blog entitled Red Oak White Oak: Telling the Difference, mentioned the different sprouting times of red and white oak acorns. What Tim didn’t mention is the “squirrel factor.”
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Cedar is used in many different projects in woodworking. There are humidors and cigar boxes made of Spanish cedar, closets and blanket chests lined with Eastern red cedar, and even your carpenter’s pencil is more likely than not made of incense cedar. There is one small problem, however; none of these commercial woods are, in fact, cedar.
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As a forester, I field plenty of questions from friends and acquaintances about trees in general. However, by far the most common question is “how can I tell the difference between red oaks and white oaks?” Well, here’s how.
Oaks are in the beech family and in the genus Quercus which is the very literal Latin word for “oak tree.” The oaks are identified as belonging to one of three different subdivisions: the white, red, and intermediates. Only the red and white oak groups are found in North America. I don’t know the real reason white oaks are named such except that the namesake of the group Quercus alba (alba means “white” in Latin) has a white bark. However, the underside of the leaf is whitish as well. In addition, the namesake red oak Quercus rubra (yep, rubra means “red” in Latin) has a reddish wood, a red/orange inner bark, and its leaves turn a brilliant to rusty red in the fall. So, you see the problem?
An interesting fact about oaks is that from the time red oaks bloom, to the drop of the acorn, is two years. If those acorns aren’t eaten by squirrels, deer, raccoons, turkeys, wild hogs, and any of the other numerous species that eat oak acorns, when they drop to the ground, then they will sprout the following spring. The white oaks, on the other hand, bloom in the spring, grow acorns, and drop them in the fall of the same year. When those acorns drop to the ground, they immediately begin the sprouting process and try to establish a beginning root system before winter sets in.
There are some major differences between the two groups and some more subtle ones. Although the wood can sometimes prove difficult to distinguish, especially if it was flatsawn, bark, leaves, and acorns are very useful in telling the difference between live trees of the two groups.
Aside from the obvious whitish bark of the White Oak and Swamp Chestnut Oak (both white oaks) and the darker bark of the Northern Red Oak, Cherrybark Oak, and Blackjack Oak (all red oaks), the leaves are the telltale indicator between the two groups. Look closely at the two oak leaves in this picture.
You have to look closely to find the one sign that quickly distinguishes the red oaks from the white. At the tip of a red oak leaf or the lobes of the leaf, you’ll find a spine or bristle.
They may be almost microscopic, or very visible; however, you will never find them on a white oak leaf. So, as simple as it sounds, THAT’s how you tell the difference between a red oak tree and a white oak tree.
Next time we will attempt to find the difference between the wood of the two oak groups. See you then!
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It all started with a cry for help.
Early last year, I read an interesting entry on a foresters’ forum. A reader explained that she was given a wooden chainsaw-carved bear by her father. A few days after she received, it she noticed that it was growing “hair.” Lauren wrote, “I noticed some things growing out of the sides of the bear that look like little white strings, about 2 inches long. I got a broom and brushed them off, and within 2 hours of me brushing them off, they had already started to grow back!” She had no idea what was happening with her new gift, and most of the good folks who replied didn’t either. Most of them guessed it was fungus of some sort. They were close, but it was far too early to call it a fungus. Confused yet? (more…)
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Readers of last week’s blog were asked to comment and describe what they like about woodworking. Although I can’t enter the contest, I will add my two cents. What I like about woodworking is working with my wood. The wood from the tree I watched grow, the tree I pruned when it was just a pole, or the tree my dad’s cattle would hide under to seek shelter from the hot southern sun.
I have always loved forests and everything in them. I studied them from the time I was old enough to wander through them alone (which, on a small farm in Mississippi in the 1960s, was a very young age). That is what eventually led me into my profession. I am a silviculturist, best described by The Society of American Foresters, as one who practices silvics, which is “the study of the life history and general characteristics of forest trees and stands, with particular reference to environmental factors…” In a nutshell (I know. That’s why I didn’t go into standup comedy), I try to manage forests for the benefit of the trees, wildlife, water and the people that use them. It is an odd profession, because if you think about it, the end result of what we do in a forest today will not be apparent for tens or hundreds of years. So, it is a science of faith.
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Many woodworkers pride themselves on being able to readily identify lumber of various species. They impress the uninitiated by blowing the dust off a stack in the lumberyard and saying, “oh, that’s white oak/red oak/white pine/spruce, etc.” Then they might throw out an offhand tidbit about good uses for the wood.
The first one has to do with identifying certain kinds of lumber while it’s still growing – no need even to see the grain. You do need to be able to see the cones of these conifers, though. This came up when one of my friends mentioned that she had taken a picture of a tree with its “pinecones” pointing up instead of down. She found that unusual. Turns out, it would be very unusual – for a pine. Or a spruce. The cones on both of these conifers grow pointing down. Fir trees, on the other hand, grow cones that defy gravity and point skyward as they grow.
Huh, you may be saying (I know I did), that’s kind of cool.