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Minimum Log Diameter for Chairmaking

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CaptainBarnacles

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Hi All,
I am just taking down some ash trees and was wondering what the concensus is on minimum log diameter worth keeping for use in chairmaking.

Also, what length would you cut the logs into for storage?

Lastly, is it advisable to use wood from boughs? I know that reaction wood can behave "interestingly" but if making components split from a small section of the bough will it still react if it doesn't have anything to react with (ie wood from the opposite side of the pith) - what about if it's steamed, does that release the tension?

Cheers,
Cap'n B
 

MARK.B.

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cap'n B, not a chair maker but would think if you want a set of matching chairs then using bough/branch wood will make that very hard to achieve , but if its a one off then having a twist or bend in a stretcher or back splat ? could add that interesting one of a kind look to the piece. As for what length to cut for storage ,my Dad always said if you have the space then keep your timber as long as you can for as long as you can, as it is a lot easier to cut a bit off than to add a bit on ,of course he may have been wrong but it is advice i have taken and used for many years and so far it has served me well :)
 

recipio

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Simply storing logs is not a good idea. They will take years to dry out, then they will be way more difficult to convert into boards and will be prone to fungal rot. and splits. However, you can actually use boughs for making rustic furniture using those round tenon cutters on a drill but the chairs don't look too comfortable to me !
Lastly, if you just want to get some boards out of garden trees ( and have a large bandsaw ) there is a jig called the ' Little Ripper ' available from Stockroom Supply ,a Canadian shop which will allow you to convert the logs up to 14 " diameter and 48 " long into boards. I have one and it it works a treat.:)
 

Bojam

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Simply storing logs is not a good idea. They will take years to dry out, then they will be way more difficult to convert into boards and will be prone to fungal rot. and splits. However, you can actually use boughs for making rustic furniture using those round tenon cutters on a drill but the chairs don't look too comfortable to me !
Lastly, if you just want to get some boards out of garden trees ( and have a large bandsaw ) there is a jig called the ' Little Ripper ' available from Stockroom Supply ,a Canadian shop which will allow you to convert the logs up to 14 " diameter and 48 " long into boards. I have one and it it works a treat.:)

Thanks for the heads up about the ‘Little Ripper’ Recipio. Not seen that before. It isn’t cheap though and I think shipping it here (from Canada to French Guiana) would cost too much. I wonder if anyone has made a DIY version that can achieve the same results? Also, when you say “a big saw”, how big are we talking? Mine has 17” wheels and a max 300mm depth of cut. I’m guessing that would work? Cheers.
 

recipio

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Thanks for the heads up about the ‘Little Ripper’ Recipio. Not seen that before. It isn’t cheap though and I think shipping it here (from Canada to French Guiana) would cost too much. I wonder if anyone has made a DIY version that can achieve the same results? Also, when you say “a big saw”, how big are we talking? Mine has 17” wheels and a max 300mm depth of cut. I’m guessing that would work? Cheers.

French Guiana ? What currency do you use. ? The Canadian Dollar is not too bad against the £ and the €. I had mine sent over to Ireland.
I have the Hammer N4400 bandsaw and like yours its a 300 mm depth of cut so I can in theory rip logs up to 12 " diameter, Have a look at the 'Stockroom Supplies' on the tube - they are actually very friendly to deal with. If you do decide to take the plunge be careful to specify the hold down mechanism which can either be round bar or 'standard' ( square bar ) on the bandsaw.
 

Bojam

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French Guiana ? What currency do you use. ? The Canadian Dollar is not too bad against the £ and the €. I had mine sent over to Ireland.
I have the Hammer N4400 bandsaw and like yours its a 300 mm depth of cut so I can in theory rip logs up to 12 " diameter, Have a look at the 'Stockroom Supplies' on the tube - they are actually very friendly to deal with. If you do decide to take the plunge be careful to specify the hold down mechanism which can either be round bar or 'standard' ( square bar ) on the bandsaw.

Yeah, French Guiana. Amazonia bordering the north of Brazil. It’s a French overseas territory so we use the Euro. Even though it’s part of the Americas, typically post is routed through Paris. So likely to be expensive. Will look into it. Thanks.
 

Jones

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If you have knot free lengths you can split them in half with axe or metal wedge to start a split then use wooden wedges to extend the split where you want it. Then run the half logs over a planner to give a flattish surface so it's safe to saw with a table or band saw. Like most things your first go may be easy to improve on.
 

CaptainBarnacles

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Thanks for all the comments and suggestions.

cap'n B, not a chair maker but would think if you want a set of matching chairs then using bough/branch wood will make that very hard to achieve , but if its a one off then having a twist or bend in a stretcher or back splat ? could add that interesting one of a kind look to the piece. As for what length to cut for storage ,my Dad always said if you have the space then keep your timber as long as you can for as long as you can, as it is a lot easier to cut a bit off than to add a bit on ,of course he may have been wrong but it is advice i have taken and used for many years and so far it has served me well :)

I'll be making one-offs initially. The idea of trying to make 4 or 6 of something exactly the same fills me with dread! I'm not looking to make really rustic chairs but more along the lines of simple Windsor chairs.

Some of the logs that I have are currently over 40' long so I'm going to have to cut them into lengths that I can move around with the limited kit that I have here. I expect that they'll end up around 10-12' long. At the moment they are sat on the lawn and that's not going down well with Mrs Barnacles :rolleyes:

Simply storing logs is not a good idea. They will take years to dry out, then they will be way more difficult to convert into boards and will be prone to fungal rot. and splits. However, you can actually use boughs for making rustic furniture using those round tenon cutters on a drill but the chairs don't look too comfortable to me !
Lastly, if you just want to get some boards out of garden trees ( and have a large bandsaw ) there is a jig called the ' Little Ripper ' available from Stockroom Supply ,a Canadian shop which will allow you to convert the logs up to 14 " diameter and 48 " long into boards. I have one and it it works a treat.:)

As I understand it, it's not a bad thing to have the wood in a green (or semi-green) state for making Windsor chairs so that doesn't bother me too much. I suspect I'll probably be splitting pieces out (that way the pieces should be stronger) rather than trying to mill the logs into boards when chairmaking but for my other woodworking I do use board stock so something like the "Little Ripper" could well be a good investment. However, you've addressed one of the big concerns which is the wood rotting when left in it's log form. I've had some cherry and ash in smaller logs for a couple of years and they seem to be fine but any beech that I try and keep starts to rot really quickly. I think that certain species are more prone to it but it also has a lot to do with what time of year the trees were felled. I made sure to fell these ash trees in December when, in theory, they should have the least amount of moisture content so they should be less prone to rot.

If you have knot free lengths you can split them in half with axe or metal wedge to start a split then use wooden wedges to extend the split where you want it. Then run the half logs over a planner to give a flattish surface so it's safe to saw with a table or band saw. Like most things your first go may be easy to improve on.

I think my limitation will be whether I can safely handle the wood across the planer and bandsaw It'll require me building infeed and outfeed tables for each machine and/or using something like the Little Ripper mentioned by Recipio. The weight of the logs will mean that I can probably safely handle no more than 6-7' lengths after splitting the logs into halves or even quarters but that's fine for chairmaking as I can't think of any situation that would require parts longer than that.
 

MARK.B.

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When i said keep them as long as possible , i was meaning within reason and of course your storage area will mostly govern what lengths you store:) , a word of caution though if you try to store them under the bed it can cause serious marital problems ;);):)
 

Qwercus

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The best quality Ash should be fast grown. It was traditionally taken from coppice or closely spaced plantations. Old, large girth trees are likely to be brittle and good only for firewood.
 

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