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Jun 28 / Scott

2,000 Pounds of Frozen Maple (3)

One cold day in January I had a meeting with Randy Smith, owner of Timbertree Farm in Baltimore, Ohio. His sawmill was only four miles from my school and he was willing to meet all my requirements for a fair price. He would provide four, eight foot hard maple logs from his family’s wood lot near Athens, Ohio. The logs had to be frozen (like all the reference books and the displays at Hamilton stressed) with the “Sap down”, 14″ to 16″ in diameter, and the bark still on the logs. My experiments with green (wet) walnut and cherry log slices during the summer showed me the bark helps to control the drying process and that it was possible to dry 1/2 slabs without cracks and checking. Of that walnut and cherry, I ended up with 20 good slabs of each for future “special order” wood type.

It was five weeks later when I received an e-mail that my logs were cut and already ripped into eight half logs. I had begun to worry because the weatherman called for period of warm, sunny days in only a week. There was still snow on the ground, and when I took my trailer and old van out to the sawmill, it was almost a postcard picture of my beautiful logs covered with snow.

Randy estimated the eight half-logs weighed about 2,000 pounds frozen. They were from two trees from the hard maple area of his farm. He moved the logs with his tractor lift, and we used a chain saw to cut the logs into 32 inch lengths. Some sections went into my van, and some went into the small trailer.  Three trips later I had a very nice stack of maple outside my shop. I tarped the stack to help keep it frozen and marked it as “Maple for Type, NOT FIREWOOD!”

The weather was below freezing so I knew I had until the weekend to get everything ready for the slabbing process. I had already purchased a one inch wide, four tooth, high speed steel industrial bandsaw blade for our largest bandsaw from a sawblade manufacturing company in Columbus. I built a carriage of upside down straight casters and a strong work table that moved at the bandsaw table height and attached our largest portable dust system.

An oak slab and jointer provided a fence set for 1 1/4 inch. During my waiting time, I had used salvaged square box steel and industrial casters to weld-up two, five foot long drying carts.  I was ready to cut 1 1/4″ half maple slabs, just like they did in the 1800’s…maybe.



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