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Fallen trees from snowfall

2382 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Fordj
Last week the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota was hit by a snowstorm and thousands of trees and branches around the area are down. There is oak, elm, ash, cottonwood, poplar, apple, and the list goes on and on. Everyone is helping clean up in the parks and public areas. I have recently started making canes and walking sticks and was wondering if anyone had any tips and/or information about harvesting some of this beautiful wood that will soon head to the landfill. What should I look for? Which wood would be best? Any thoughts or comments are appreciated! Namaste
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Most of what I have is from storm damage. There are 2 things to watch for: hidden cracks from when the wood snapped and crashed, and bug or disease flaws that made the wood more likely to fail. Since you seem to have a lot to choose from, be picky. Its a real pain to be part way thru making a stick, and run into a flaw.

I've read various recommendations about when to strip the bark off of branches. I'm not practiced enough to say, but I cleaned the bark and off a number of pieces of green oak and hickory this summer. It was vastly easier than the dry ones I've worked w. I have the ends sealed, and am waiting to see if I get any longitudinal splits as they finish seasoning.

I would suppose most of the wood was still full of sap when the sudden storm took it down. Green sticks thick enough for canes, etc generally need at least a year of curing. I keep mine in an unheated garage. I've only had a few still too wet after letting them sit for a year. During that time, inspect them every now and then. If you find piles of wood dust around them, there is a bug infestation. If you want to save the infested wood, fumigate it in large plastic bags.

There's lots of info here on the forum about various seasoning methods. Likewise, a fair amount about the quality of various woods, and their suitability for different purposes.

I mostly carve hiking sticks, and long straight hardwoods are my preference for those. But I'm seeing a greater need for canes, and have been keeping an eye out for sticks that happen to have a natural bend in them, or that can be cut away leaving a portion of the larger branch on to be formed into a handle. Some softer and lighter pieces of wood have been rigid enough that I think they are suitable for lighter duty use.
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Good Morning and thank you! I am headed out today to see what I can get. I am thinking I want to get as much oak as possible. Would oak make a good cane or walking stick? I am assuming it would. I can post some pictures later. Love and light.
All oak is relatively hard, but there is a noticeable difference between the red/black oaks (the ones w. the pointy leaves) and the white oaks (the rounded leaves.) The red/black wood has open pores. It is slightly lighter by volume, and cuts a bit more easily. White oak has closed pores, which makes it more water resistant, but hard. Great stuff if tools are very sharp, and one is patient.

Around here, most of the oak branches are rather twisty. A thunderstorm brought down a half dozen big oaks near me a few months ago. I was happy to find 8 mostly straight branches that were between 36" & 54." Younger trees often have straighter branches, but the wood is not quite as stiff or dense.

Good searching.
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