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Peeled Tree Stumps11/26
Okay, I have a client who wants about 32' of rustic bookshelves in their chalet. They would like the ends and mid points to be peeled stumps with a little bit of root showing. Like an idiot, I agreed thinking this wouldn't be difficult to find. Well, that is why I'm here now - does anyone have a good source for this? I'm not too concerned about the species at this point. I just don't want green - at least air dried and, no, I don't have time to walk through the woods and find this myself. Thanks in advance!
When looking for random, rustic stuff like this, I've had luck recruiting guys that cut firewood commercially. They're out in the woods everyday, so they know what's out there and where to find it. Another source is tree removal companies. They usually have a lot where they dump all the dead and downed timber.
You thought that kind of thing is commercially available? Hope you didn't give them a bid already. Used to be guys all along Route 1 in Northern California selling burl slabs and root table bases, but that was in the 80s. Also used to be a tv show documenting log homes built by Pioneer Log Homes. They would put a family tree in the center of the home. It was peeled and usually had the buttress flare or roots. If I recall, they charged anywhere from $60,000 to $150,000 for one. But, they could be up to 60' tall and would take over a week to peel.
I cant say for sure but I think if your looking for anything dry, and peeled, that includes the crown flare of the tree your going to have no choice other than to look for someone to go in the woods, or do it yourself. Sad part is drying is a long ways off for anything you will harvest now. My only other advice would be depending on your area you may heavily research builders or architects that to homes with rustic stair cases. We know an architect that incorporates these features in many of the homes they build (multi million dollar homes) and they have a sub contractor that literally comes into the home with bundles of branches, sticks, stems, and so on, that they have harvested and dried for years and years. They painstakingly hand build/fit entire multi level stair cases out of this material.
They may be a source for some taller stems that retain the crown. Could be a wild goose chase but that would be my only thought.
As Rich says, I hope you bid it right.
We have had some luck in the past working on jobs like this incorporating fairly green elements if you can plan accordingly and allow for drying and shrinkage after installation. Harvesting a few moderate diameter stems (perhaps 4-5" diameter or less) and building a simple dry-box in the shop with a heat source can take you a long way but it wont get you all the way there.
Steuart, I've done some projects using whole trees, and would suggest you start looking for your own trees.
One thing I would suggest you consider, is using hollow trees. In some the decay will get everything inside the sapwood layer, which may leave you with 1.5" - 2" of thickness with the natural surface that your looking for, but without all the thickness slowing the drying process, plus without the heart, this can be dried without all the checking, and sapwood dries faster in most species than the heartwood.
This is not the best time of the year for easy bark removal, but it can be done. I can usually knock off the thick bark from a 2' - 3' diameter 10' log in a few hours or less with a 20 oz framing hammer, then clean up the rest with a power washer.
You may also want to look into fumigation.
Sometimes trees fall down or are taken down because of bug infestation.
Keith's right, the bark won't come off this time of year with anything less than a drawknife. I peeled a walnut one spring, and after one long cut to get under the bark, I peeled the whole thing in one piece. Really fun to have a tube of bark, until it curled up like a potato chip.
Well, I'll add to your labors and say you are looking for "standing dead timber" These are trees that die, usually from bugs or even fire, and they loose their bark after a season or two, and then dry out somewhat. Popular with log cabin builders, the logs shrink much less and are easier to peel, or do not need peeling. These are mostly softwoods from the West - if that matters.
Once, upon seeing peeled small stumps at the local furniture design shop, I asked about them. The knowledgeable owner, knowing my interests, told me they were coming from a big drainage project in Brazil where thousands/millions of same size and species of trees were killed off and allowed to stand for awhile before they were cleared. For Chinese Soybean fields. Someone noticed they did not split or rot, yada, yada, yada, they end up in living rooms as side tables. These had a yellow blonde color to the wood.
Not sure where you live, these stumps are located in Lancaster, Pa.
All very good responses - I appreciate the caution on bugs as well! (I have not submitted a bid or even an estimate at this point.) David, that looks very close to what I am after - feel free to message me! Approx 10" diameter and 7' tall is what I am looking for with an approximate 24" root flare. I did find a possible source - air dried to around 20 - 25%. He cautioned about bugs as well but said if they sit in a kiln at 140 degrees for two weeks, that would take care of it. Does this sound right? If I introduce bugs into someone's house, that could put a shop like mine out of business so I can't take a chance on that. Please weigh in with an appropriate kiln schedule for this! Thanks!