Buying wood from tree surgeons

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Bluey71

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As the title says, I am just wondering if anybody is doing this? A few years back I watched an old Sycamore being 'dismantled' and have often wondered since where all that timber ended up. If anyone is doing this would you mind sharing your approach? I am more than happy to pay for it but I am no wheeler dealer so a point in the right direction would be a great help. Thanks in advance.
 

TFrench

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Just google local tree surgeons, give them a ring and explain what you want, and that you're happy to pay for it. They probably already have a couple of turners asking. I have a mate who is an "arborist" (posh tree surgeon) and he gives me a call if he's taking anything interesting down. Be prepared to have to drop everything to go get it - if you're not quick it goes in the chipper or gets logged up for firewood.
 

Keith 66

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A guy down the road to us is a good tree surgeon, he did a job in mother in laws garden last year & left two big Ash trunks about 18" in diameter in ten foot lengths for me. Then you realise how heavy they are!
He cuts down & clears what could be considered to be tons of usable timber every working day. The truth is that the customer just wants it gone asap. Thats how he earns his money.
To remove big logs quickly means heavy lifting gear & transport & time, plus a sawmill to mill it.
If you are working in a garden or cramped area it cant be done. So everything gets lopped into rounds big enough for a strong man to roll & load into the truck.
It all goes for firewood, he dropped a Sycamore over the road to us recently, a pile of it is on our driveway, its rounds & is firewood.
 

Yojevol

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I've done it a couple of times. Firstly, some yew which you can read about here. Secondly, a medium size maple which I had felled in my garden. The tree surgeon left me the trunk for milling and the rest for firewood. The trunk weighed about half a ton so the handling issue needed to be resolved. Fortunately my local farmer friend was able to use his farm machinery to lift it into a trailer. My nearest sawmill is 15miles away and he milled it while I waited. Having got it home it's now stacked in my woodstore and it'll be a couple of years before I can consider using it.
So, yes, if you can get your local tree surgeon to advise you when something of interest is coming up, but, and it's a big but, you've got to have the logistics available at short notice. If you're having to use commercial plant contractors, the economics start to look very iffy.
Brian
 

Terry - Somerset

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When I started the woodworking hobby I was shocked by the very low value of trees and the very high cost of seasoned sawn or planed timber.

I now realise a single tree is almost worthless - less than 10% of its seasoned and dimensioned cousin for sale in the woodyard. Several trees in the same location may have a value but:
  • there needs to be access to the site to bring in heavy equipment
  • investment in equipment to cut down and move the tree - saws, chippers, lifting gear, etc
  • transport to saw mill and cutting
  • seasoning - wait years or kiln dry with extra costs
  • saw (and plane) to final dimensions
  • transport to timber wholesaler
  • wastage in each stage of the process
  • storage, overheads and profit
Tongue somewhat in cheek - it's surprising it is so cheap! Plant a sapling and leave for 60-100 years is easy. 90%+ of the effort and value is what is needed to process a tree.

I can understand why folk are attracted (as am I) to the idea of going the full distance from tree to finished table. Limiting myself to smaller bits that can be man handled by a weakling, easily stored for few years to season, probably used to turn or make small items is a realistic goal for most.
 

Stigmorgan

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As a school site manager I am regularly in contact with our local tree surgeon who rather foolishly said I'm welcome to help myself to his yard any time I want 😀
 

Richard_C

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I have picked up a few bits locally, if a tree surgeon is at work they are usually happy for you to take a few pieces, plus one maple in our garden and a cherry just outside. It's hobby/woodturning stuff though, I don't have the kit to do anything bigger. Anything much under 12 inch diameter isn't much use unless it has a feature like a burl or you want small stock for spindle work, candlestick perhaps. 3ft long by 12 or 14 diameter is about the biggest one person can shift handily, or at least me at 70, when you buy seasoned timber most of the moisture is gone, fresh cut weighs twice as much, or more with some species. It takes ages to prep, normally I chainsaw to about 12 or 14 inch lengths then (lacking a mill) cut a slot in one end with the chainsaw to get a line started and drive in a wedge to split it. I might get useable 9 inch by 2 inch blanks once it's all sorted. Pva the ends and season or turn green.

Logs do start to split/dry very quickly unless you prep them. Ideally you sort then on the day they are cut, if not cover with bin liner and do it the next day.

The more times I do it the more I recognise the value of a good timber merchants!
 

stuart little

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I've seen many a sawmill/timber store,mainly in Norway & Germany, where the stacks of un-milled timber are constantly sprayed with water.
 

alex robinson

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I agree that asking when you pass someone doing tree work often gets nice pieces for turning. I have tried buying and having logs delivered from a tree surgeon before without much luck though. He must have been a fisherman - full of talk about amazing timber he had cut down in the past and how he had some great big logs he could drop off. When they arrived, they were at most half the diameter promised!

As mentioned by others in this thread, large pieces of timber are incredibly heavy, so cost time and money to move. If we want them to go to that sort of trouble, we have to make sure to offer a decent amount. I have had far more success speaking to the owners of trees that have come down and asking if I can cut things in situ. Making something beautiful for them out of some of the wood works wonders.

It makes a lot of mess, but a small chainsaw mill is amazing for turning an immovable log into useful timber.
 

SamG340

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When I was younger my dad was always on the look out for logs, the house didn't have proper central heating , it had a multifuel burner that ran the radiators and also made hot water.

One spring we drove past a tree surgeon working not far from our house, dad saw a big pile of ash logs on the side of the road so we pulled over and went to have a chat with the man. Dad asked if we could buy them. The tree surgeon said yes and asked if we wanted more because he was cutting down 2 big ash trees that day. In the end after some haggling we took the whole lot for £85

We did run after run in the little van, got it all home and offloaded. Wet ash is very heavy ... I was knackered lol!!

We spent that whole summer splitting fire wood. Between them and some other bits he pulled together, we kept the house warm all winter for £85.
 

Keith 66

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That Tree surgeon was probably laughing that day, I would bet he doesnt get paid for what he cuts normally. Our local guy mentioned earlier dumps all his timber at a local nursery, free tip for him, the nursery processes the timber into firewood they sell by the hippo sack.
 

alex robinson

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I think a lot of the time when buying stuff from tree surgeons we are not really buying the wood, but paying for the inconvenience of them having to do something different. @Stigmorgan definitely seems to have the best deal, for both sides.

I have not used it as I don't have much space at home, but arbtalk have a network of tip sites you can sign up to for free waste wood or chip from tree surgeons. It is apparently a matter of luck if you get anything, but being flexible, convenient and offering beer money is said to improve the odds.

 

whereistheceilidh

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There maybe someone in your area with a woodmiser or similar....a mobile chainsaw on a track that can cut logs into planks. Have used that for larch & oak. Boards not that accurate but then easier to shift, stack & season.
 

Stigmorgan

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I think a lot of the time when buying stuff from tree surgeons we are not really buying the wood, but paying for the inconvenience of them having to do something different. @Stigmorgan definitely seems to have the best deal, for both sides.

I have not used it as I don't have much space at home, but arbtalk have a network of tip sites you can sign up to for free waste wood or chip from tree surgeons. It is apparently a matter of luck if you get anything, but being flexible, convenient and offering beer money is said to improve the odds.


👍👍 there's also a site called chipdrop, it's more American based but is slowly spreading over here.
 

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