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We shared a story earlier this year about the complicated felling of a diseased ash tree. The nearly 25m tree was removed by our experienced staff due to safety concerns, as the tree was growing close to the public walking path at Wilsontown. 

The timber is now starting a journey with a local woodworker to become a piece of fine furniture.

Below is a first-hand account from Doug Halliday, our Niche Marketing and Hardwoods Manager, who takes us through the process of getting this diseased tree ready to be turned into something new.

A woman in red safety gear sits on a stump with a chainsaw

Read the article about felling this giant ash tree below:

The craft of forestry is attracting a growing number of women


Owing to a number of constraints within the area where the trunk was located, a low impact solution was needed to carefully recover the timber from its resting place without causing significant ground disturbance.

A solution came in the form of an Alaskan sawmill. This is a very simple lightweight cradle which supports a chainsaw with a specialist guide bar that is sufficiently narrow to minimise waste. To set up the log for cutting boards, a ladder was employed to establish a flat surface for accurately producing the required 3 inch thick boards.

Alaskan saw SM

The Alaskan mill set up for its first cut.

Alaskan mill in action first cut SM

Saw in operation

There is always an air of anticipation as the first board is cut and its appearance revealed for the first time. The boards displayed, a dark heartwood with compressed and expanded grain surrounding branches with interesting colouration brought from fungal infection and metal.

A piece of dried timber in a shed

A sawn board showing the characteristic dark heartwood of Ash. Once dried and oiled, this will look stunning!

The presence of metal in old trees is not unusual and for Wilsontown with its industrial heritage, the likelihood of encountering something metallic in the timber was quite high. Over the first few cuts, a couple of square nails were found which necessitated a change of chainsaw chain but fortunately no further encounters with nails were made which was a relief for the Alaskan mill operator.

To round off the day, the cut boards which were still a considerable weight were transported back to the furniture maker's workshop for what will be a lengthy process of drying before being stable enough to be worked.  As a general rule, timber for furniture making requires a moisture content of around 12% to ensure no warping or splitting occurs.

It is likely that it will take at least a year of air drying before the ash planks are ready for furniture making which means that the next chapter of this story will be will be sometime away, but worth waiting for!'

A cut of wood sitting on the forest flood