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Hi all,
This is my first post here, been reading here for awhile. I'm very new to this type of woodworking and not able to devote much time to the craft.
I am in North Central Indiana and have some tree clearing to do on our property lines. The next trees to go are several small diameter locusts and very mature lilacs. There are also an abundance of midsized mulberry trees to clear out this fall. It's more wood than I need and would prefer it be used for walking sticks or handles before it gets thrown into the woodstove.

I have some questions:
Is anyone here interested in the wood?

What is the best way to dry these "logs" after they are cut. Should the bark be stripped first...some of the locust wood is 4 or 5 inches in diameter, should it be split before drying?

Thanks!
 

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Hi, I'm in South Bend. I'm supposing you have access to many of the woods I do.

I have a couple sticks of locust in my stash. According to what I've read, it should be good for tough use ticking sticks.

Mulberry varies widely depending on growing conditions. Trees that had lots of water and sunlight tend to grow so quickly that they don't produce good dense heart wood. The best I've had were from trees that were polled several times. The uncut trunks had 8 - 10 years of dense golden brown heart wood, and just a few rings of pale yellow growth wood. Worst I had was cut in spring, and left to dry in my garage. Next spring, it was not only still wet, but was actually sprouting new side branches. When I stripped away the bark at that point, it was still so wet that it split longitudinally.

I have a couple of mulberry logs that I will eventually get around to carving, or perhaps turning into wooden bowls or plates. I cut into one of them last year, after 4 years of drying, and it checked within a week.

Lilac can be very beautiful, but the shrubs I've seen didn't grow straight for much length. Possibly some good handle material.

Generally, the end grain is sealed. Any number of things work. Wax, white glue, heavy coats of paint, etc. This slows the rate of moisture loss, which in turn reduces the shrinkage rate, and limits the end cracking that almost always happens. Rule of thumb is at least 6 mo.s curing for every inch of thickness. Woods harvested in winter, when the sap is down, are quicker to dry than wet summer growth. The bark on some woods is easier to remove when the wood is still green, others, the opposite. As I mentioned,I have had cracks along the length from several sticks, so I tend to leave the bark on.

Something else you might look for is sassafras. Like mulberry, its composition can very quite a bit, but the wood is a very nice warm golden brown color. At its hardest, it is not very hard to carve, but tends to suffer tear out. Because the trees are colony trees, taking saplings doesn't effect the grove much, assuming the eldest trees are still healthy.
 

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Welcome!

I would be interested if I was closer.

Make sure to save some for yourself. It takes time for the sticks to cure. Even if you're busy now you might be able to steal a few hours to work on them after they're cured. I find working on them is a good way to relax.

I have a 6" lilac log that was given to me by a friend. It's very heavy for it's size. I'd take a good hard look at the lilac for walking sticks. I think it has a lot of potential.

There's some small lilacs growing in a vacant lot near my house. I'm waiting for winter to go see if there's any good stick material there.

Locust is known for being tough and rot resistant. There should be some good sticks there too.

If you have saplings, dig them up instead of cutting them down. You can get good one piece sticks with handles or knobs from the root balls. The same goes for limbs. Try to cut a section of the parent limb off with the stick for handle material too.

Gdenby gives good advice on sealing the ends and drying your sticks. Leave the bark on. It helps slow down drying and helps prevent splitting.

I like to leave my sticks long when I cut them. Most splits develop at the ends first and long sticks can be trimmed off if needed. A long stick also gives you more options for making the final stick.

In my opinion the small end of the finished stick should be a minimum of about 5/8" but then I like heavier sticks anyway. I like at least 7/8" on hiking staffs. I mention it so you know what diameters to aim for as you're harvesting.

Rodney
 

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I would echo what Rodney said. Particularly Locust grows with shallow roots that are good for handles. Also, I have had MUCH better luck with winter cut sticks, and really bad results with
ones cut in spring.
 

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The trees membranes change in the fall to prepare for cold weather. The membranes become more pliable;This lets water move out of the cells and into the spaces between the cells. This water exerts pressure against the cell walls, but this pressure is offset as cells shrink and occupy less space. This is one of the reasons winner cut work out better and as a rule dry faster.
 
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