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Finding free wood

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by John Hicks, Aug 16, 2020.

  1. John Hicks

    John Hicks

    Joined:
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    Location (City & State):
    Hoodsport, Washington
    Finding free wood I found out: is harder than I thought. But I did find this "free walnut" for 300.00; plus he threw in a few chunks of maple. I had no idea how hard it is to find good hardwood for turning, unless you have your radar out constantly. Nor the amount of work it is to process. That chainsaw is getting heavier with every year that goes by!

    IMG_7991.JPG IMG_7998.JPG IMG_7999.JPG
     
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  2. Greg Norman

    Greg Norman

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    Location (City & State):
    Germantown, NC
    Being a woodturner is a lot more fun if you are good friends with a tree guy, (arborist).
    If I were you I’d try to become friends with Fred or Jared Holmes down in Shelton. Offer up a nice bowl or three in trade. You might be surprised what they offer in return. I’ve got a dump truck load for a nice big salad bowl before. My tree guy turned into a great friend and I now have more wood than I know what to do with.
     
  3. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    Jul 18, 2018
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    Location (City & State):
    Baltimore, MD
    My city has a log dump where city crews and arborists get rid of wood. I’ve had a couple of trips there that I paid $10 or $20 for a carload. Kept me busy for a few weeks, but lately I just follow the sound of chainsaws in the neighborhood and I get more than I can handle. Yes, it can be exhausting to spend the day processing your scores, but it’s like having money in the bank.
     
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  4. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2017
    Messages:
    314
    Location (City & State):
    Windsor, Pennsylvania
    Get to know the folks at your street and parks maintenance agencies. Storms create wood. they can tell you where they dump it.
    Furniture factories often have discarded pieces due to knots, blemishes, etc. One here in town as about a skid load a week
    Pallet and skid makers get larger pieces and need to cut to length. Some have piles of cut offs for free
    Don't over look small saw mills. One near me makes 3.5 x 5 parts for pallets and trims them to 7 ft length. whatever is trimmed off is thrown in a free pile. Sometimes they make pallet wood from even elm, cherry ash, bass and walnut.
    Tree guys
    Keep an eye out for home owners cutting trees. Polite requests can get you large pieces of wood, but you need to be prepared to act swiftly and clean up. That may mean keeping a saw, tarp and broom in your vehicle
    Drive around after a storm. You will see downed limbs, etc.
    Get to know a heavy equipment operator. or a township permits official, They can direct you to lots being cleared for construction.
    Some people list free wood on Craig's List and other internet community bulletin boards like Next Door, even facebook market place.
    Join a turning club and learn to swap

    always be polite, say the magic words even when turned down, maybe next time. give some small token of appreciation for the wood. Even a small ornament turned from their old maple tree, has some sentimental value for them and shows your appreciation.

    Once word gets out, you will get calls and wood will accumulate.

    Even free wood isn't always a good idea. Processing it and sealing ends, storing till dry, etc all take effort, and space. Learn to recognize the types of wood that are good for turning and those that are not. Learn the leaves, the bark, trees even have a certain shape that can be picked out a mile away. etc. A pile of freshly cut red oak, isn't nearly as good as a few pieces of black cherry or even a couple of pieces of Eastern Red Cedar. (A fellow in Maryland, 40 years ago, grabbed a piece out of a pile of scrub where a fence row was being bull dozed. He thought he had a piece of root of multiflora rose, he made a couple of pipes and sold them. Turns out it was a piece of poison ivy vine. and affected some of his customers .... adversely) Although a pen made from poison ivy wood and sealed well, would be quite a novelty ......" poison pen"

    Keep in mind that our trees are under attack by a host of parasites, diseases and fungi There are strict rules some places about transporting wood from county to county. Spotted Lantern Fly, Gypsy Moths, Emerald Ash borer, Ambrosia beetles, Thousand canker disease, lethal yellowing, Chestnut blight, and many more. (I seem to be living where they are all converging. Recently lost all my ash trees, had a few black walnuts die and just recently had ambrosia beetles attack a Sassafrass. Spotted Lantern Fly has killed some trees just 9 miles north.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2020
    John Hicks likes this.
  5. Russ Braun

    Russ Braun

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    Nov 18, 2012
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    Location (City & State):
    Torrance, CA
    Ha, you can come into the light and become a segmenter! No piece of wood is scrap!!
     
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  6. Dennis Weiner

    Dennis Weiner

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    Messages:
    243
    Location (City & State):
    New City, NY
    check Craig's list regularly. search under FOR SALE category "FREE" (firewood) there are usually many postings. I just found 3 possible listings within 30-40 miles of Hoodsport. Most times its firewood, but once in awhile, you may find a treasure. You have to check regularly.
    Happy Hunting.
     
  7. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

    Joined:
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    Location (City & State):
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    Lots of good advice here already. When I first started I was anxious about where I would be able to get good green stock to turn. It didn't take long before I was covered up. Selling bowls at local market events turned out to be my best source. Lots of people would say they had a tree recently taken down, one in their neighbors yard, in their ditch, relatives, etc. I always told them I was interested with the following caveats - I don't cut down trees, I can't cut up or haul away all of the debris and will only take what I think I can use. I offer them a free bowl of their choosing out of what I make. Some follow up and I quickly throw my gear into my truck and go take a look. I've declined sometimes - been on the ground too long, not something I can turn, etc. Many people overstate the size when describing what they have. Turns out to be a pile of small limbs but, often I get some very nice wood. A neighbor recently cleared a big section of his lot and said there was one tree different than the rest. Turned out to be black cherry in great shape and good size. I gave him one bowl and he bought two more. If you see someone in their yard with a chain saw looking at a big tree then stop, go up and see if you can get some. I've never had anyone say no. Sometimes you get junk, sometimes a jewel. I live in the country and have a big burn pile way out back so I can easily just toss it into the pile and burn it if I don't want it. I've had more than a few people accept their free bowl and buy several more for the rest of the family, especially if it's a tree from their property. Yes, the processing of the stock turns out to be a LOT of work that I didn't realize - cutting, hauling, sealing, storing.

    One of my challenges is I usually get too much. I pile the good pieces into the truck or onto my trailer and then get home and realize my eyes were bigger than my appetite for processing it all or being able to turn it in time.
     
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  8. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2018
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    Location (City & State):
    Ponsford, MN
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    I went out for a paddle boat rides and saw this black ash that broke off during a recent storm so I went back to shore and got my 12" electric chainsaw, then climbed down the bloff from the back of my shop and cut it off from the stump. Then later in the day I went out and caught todays supper the with my trusty 6 HP Johnson I went to the tree and put a rope on it to move it where I could pull it ashore but full throttle didn't move it. The next step may be to cut the trunk off just below the branches or maybe a longer rope to pull from an angle. Free wood sure is nice ain't it.
     
  9. Donovan Bailey

    Donovan Bailey

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    Location (City & State):
    Gainesville, VA
    You made me chuckle, Don...you and I must be cut from the same mold. I've got a couple of similar tales.
     
  10. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    Location (City & State):
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    To add insult after I cut the tree free of the stump on shore as I struggled to climb back with the saw in my left hand and my right hand pulling on brush my chainsaw hating dog started growling and snapping at the saw.
     
    Donovan Bailey likes this.
  11. John Walls

    John Walls

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2020
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    182
    Location (City & State):
    Larimore, ND
    I agree with you, that chainsaw is getting heavier and heavier! We have a lot of tree rows between fields here. Asking a farmer if you can cut up pieces of wood for your hobby from downed trees usually I get a help yourself. And lately, there have been a lot of storms, many downed trees. Here it's mostly elm/ash/cottonwood/red oak. I usually pick up enough hard-wood after harvest when I ask to keep me busy a while (don't want to try to get into fields with standing crop, very hazardous to your heath!) I'll stop by a farmstead after a storm when I see blown over trees, been told several times, take what you want and pile up what you don't want so I can burn it when I get a chance. I just hauled a load of red-oak and very red streaked box-elder from a homestead. A friend just bought some land with good sized tree claims. Neither of us had explored the trees but when we did, we found so many downed red oak I will be cutting fire-wood/turning-wood for a long time. I'm a home-brewer and usually carry a few bottles with me to give out to folks. The farmers see me coming now and point out downed trees and I respond with a cold brew which they all love.
     
  12. Dean Center

    Dean Center

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
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    Location (City & State):
    Bozeman, MT
    I'd give you all my wood for a steady supply of Hiemmelspach sausage. Sadly, Mr. Hiemmelspach passed on and his son wasn't interested in keeping up the business near Jamestown. A real tragedy.
     
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  13. John Walls

    John Walls

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    Location (City & State):
    Larimore, ND
    Never had any but sounds like a sad loss. I make my own sausage, 40% venison 60% pork shoulder and some secret spices. Got 2 deer tags this year, I'll be sausage stuffing.
     
  14. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Location (City & State):
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    The provenance of this wood will make it even more valuable. Great story, let us know the rest. Aloha
     
  15. Hugh

    Hugh

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    Messages:
    491
    I have been in the process of cleaning up the "junk wood" in my yard. Claro Walnut, Madrone, Calif. Bay, etc. Wood that I have collected for free.......but I worked for each and every chunk.
    But, had too much wood and not enough time to turn it. So, it sat in the yard and went bad.
    There is so much free wood out there. You just need to look and be willing to go do some work to get it.
    Next month.....a 3.5' diameter Claro Walnut is coming down.......I am supposed to get all of it. Too much wood.
     
  16. Darrell Stokes

    Darrell Stokes

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2020
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    Location (City & State):
    Kingston, NY
    Craigslist is great, searching on terms like “log”, “tree”, and of course, “wood”. I find a good number of people who offer the wood for free if you’ll come get it so they don’t have to pay someone or do it themselves. (Though, admittedly, that can be some work.) That’s how I recently lucked into some flame box elder that the guy thought was mulberry.

    If you have Nextdoor in your area, that can be good too. When someone asks for arborist recommendations, I send them a message with a rec, and offer to take the wood in return for a bowl. I got most of a cherry tree that way last fall, and I’m still working my way through it.
     
  17. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

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    Location (City & State):
    Windsor, Pennsylvania
    Shame we don't have a swap sub forum. I have some smaller pieces of red elm and catalpa that came from Pres Buchanan's homestead, "Wheatland." outside of Lancaster PA. .
     
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  18. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    Location (City & State):
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    I have heard this countless times, in forums and in person. Have you ever stopped by the Department of Agriculture booth at the symposiums? It is against the law to transport or mail a lot of woods. Out of Hawaii, I have to take the box, open to the Ag guy, he checks it, then seals it. Interisland now takes an act of congress to move anything due to the Rapid Ohia death, Coki frogs and fire ants just to name a few pests. Took me over a month of spraying and paperwork to bring in a load of Milo and Kou with the help of John Mydock. Of course, I think it is a good idea, too bad it can't be done.
     
  19. Mike Adams

    Mike Adams

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    Location (City & State):
    Bloomfield, New Jersey
    Carry a good rake, too. No one likes their lawn sprayed with chainsaw chips ;-)
     
  20. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

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    Location (City & State):
    Windsor, Pennsylvania
    And yet all the fire wood at the box stores here is imported from Estonia and Latvia. Incidentally, the white birch isn't bad turning wood either. (we had a fellow here that imported hundreds of exotic plants 50 years ago and then went around the county planting them. So out in middle of no where, you come across a plant native to Siberia or The mountains of India. Thanks to him we now have a weedy vine that grows 5 or 6 ft a day and has barbs every inch of so. Some folks call it mile a minute weed, others call it tear thumb. But who am I to talk, I live in Pennsylvania, I have a patch of prickly pear cactus growing here before I bought the place, I have Sago palms in the back yard, a few water oaks growing in the side yard and banana trees in the front yard. The water oaks are at least 100 miles north of their range. and the palms are about 250 miles north of theirs. I am seeing banana trees in many places here. When I was growing up, they only grew as far north as Washington DC. Dept of Ag even gave us a new warmer sub zone designation.. I can put the wood in the oven for an hour or two at 130 degrees or whatever the temp is. Gets almost that hot in my pole barn in summer.
     
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  21. John Hicks

    John Hicks

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2020
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    287
    Location (City & State):
    Hoodsport, Washington
    I believe wood "collecting" is a disease? The struggle is real!
     
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  22. Donovan Bailey

    Donovan Bailey

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    Location (City & State):
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    Agree. Wood Collecting Disease is also rivaled by Bandsaw Cutting Disease. It is danged near as much fun cutting on a bandsaw as it is...(I can't say it out loud or a certain unnamed Robust product will get jealous).
     
  23. Tom De Winter

    Tom De Winter

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    Apr 30, 2020
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    Location (City & State):
    Quad Cities, IL
    I'm currently overwhelmed with "free" wood from the recent storm that had power out for close to a week for some.
     
  24. Brian Deakin

    Brian Deakin

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2018
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    Location (City & State):
    Quorn, Leicestershire, United Kingdom
    I live in the Uk
    Surprisingly I have had good success in contacting a company fits out some of the worlds most prestigious hotels The company were happy to give me timber left over from jobs which they normally incinerated
    This could be an avenue to explore in the USA
     
  25. John Tisdale

    John Tisdale

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2014
    Messages:
    259
    Location (City & State):
    Dallas, TX
    Just make lots of weed-pots with your name/phone on the bottom. Give to neighbors, give them to Catholics (call them palm-pots) - sell for $5 at school fund-raisers - just get them out there.
    Weed-pots are a great way to practice tool-handling and form - can't tell you how many times I've made a few and then stood back and looked - one always stands out - then I have to figure out "why" and do it again.

    It's funny - wood starts coming to you - people think of people that think of them
     
  26. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    Location (City & State):
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    Well I got the black ash out of the lake I cut the trunk into 2 100" lengths and one about 6'. The cutting was all done with my Makita 12" battery powered chain saw. The cutting to length was done standing in the water about up to my waist so the chain was water lubricated as well as the oil.

    BlachAshTow.jpg blackAshtowed.jpg IMG_20200819_153806.jpg IMG_20200819_155101 (1).jpg IMG_20200819_161235.jpg
     
  27. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    Location (City & State):
    Ponsford, MN
    Crotch wood natural edge bowls. The crotch was about 25 feet above the ground on the ash tree I retrieved from the lake. Found woodAshBowls.jpg
     
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  28. Ross Scott

    Ross Scott

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2020
    Messages:
    51
    Location (City & State):
    Hamilton, New Zealand
    I am the kind of person who will swoop down on wood that is laying on the ground in a public place I got some camellia wood when I saw some laying on the grass next to a side walk while walking my dog it stayed there for just a hair over a week so I swung by in the car one afternoon and took all the good bits another instance was out on a country road I saw a log laying in the grass next to the road I talked to a local and I was told it had been sitting there for a number of years so in the back of the car it went I also have a freind who inherited his grandfathers farm and a majority of my wood comes from there and he has wood ranging from fruit and nut timbers to wood that is native to my country and it all has been out in the fields weathering for many years I also like buying recycled native timber as well. The piece with the greenstone inlay is some recycled Totara (native to New Zealand) that was once part of a house piling the other hollowform is from that log I found on the side of the country road species unknown.
     

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