Chadwick writes in with this excellent report.
First off , thanks to DM for putting me in touch with Pastor Todd Speed. Having just went through a similar experience with an historic pecan ( http://www.decaturmetro.com/2012/03/16/tree-cycling-at-the-marlay-lumberjack-style/ ) I shared my experience with Pastor Todd and his team. They were eager to work toward a solution that would salvage as much of the tree as possible.
Due to the fact that the old tree was showing signs of insect infestation, and had portions of it’s filled with concrete, it was decided to have Frank ( the ” lumber jock ” ) present at the take down to determine the best way to recycle the most wood from the tree. Although it was a tough call for Todd, his team, and the City of Decatur’s arborist, it was agreed by all, that it was the right decision. The trunk and the huge main lead were hollow, and showing active signs of termite and black ant infestation – as well as fungal issues.
The largest logs of the tree were salvaged and transported to the lot next to The Marlay for processing ( kudos to King Tree Service for agreeing to this ). As you can see, it was quite a haul.
Not only did this project benefit from the expertise of Frank, but as luck would have it the Senior Engineer for the City of Decatur, John Madajewski, is an expert on wood turning. He lent his skill and passion to the cause – laying out the best way to process the drops and crotches for bowls and other wood lathe projects.
Due to John’s efforts dozens of blanks were able to be prepared for this highly skilled art. Black Walnut is prized by wood workers for turnings, especially the crotch pieces which produce “flames” of wood grain that appear 3 dimensional.
Commercial mills will not touch urban wood, period. Because this was a large black walnut, most tree services would – at most – have sold the main crotches of this tree to gun manufacturers for stocks. To utilize the wood for furniture, Frank called upon his associate and master sawyer, Drew, to process the salvaged wood into boards.
Using years of experience, Drew and Frank were able to yield hundreds of board feet of beautiful black walnut. The wood has been “stickered” and will be slowly air dried for premium quality. The wood should be ready to be used in about one year. Among the plans for the boards are: tables and cabinets as well as a cross and a kneeling bench for the church.
While all of the lumber has been spoken for through previous arrangement, there are plenty of drops and short and narrow pieces perfect for crafts and small wood working projects and turnings left. The community is invited to stop by the lot next to The Marlay and help themselves ( please keep it neat ).
Thanks again to everyone who helped make this project happen: from Todd’s community of faith , to the fearless efforts of the woodmen who did the heavy lifting.
Like the movements in agriculture and the culinary world that confront process and sustainability -the way we as a country go about consuming furniture and building materials needs to be reconsidered. While the economics of urban tree recycling do not yet work at all, it is projects like these that start the conversation.