Salvaging Wilt-Killed Red Oak

      Burn the sawdust and bark, and kiln-dry the lumber. December 11, 2006

Question
We have a number of live oaks that have been hit by oak wilt. The Texas state forester advised we wait at least a year prior to taking trees down in that some will come back, as seen in the Texas Hill Country. We have a 36" circular saw mill and are contemplating the purchase of a band saw mill. Can we use the wood for 2x stock to build walls? Ideally, I would like to cut them for beams and lintels.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor L:
I think you might have better luck with the circle mill. Live oak is extremely hard stuff and eats band blades. It can also be pretty tough to dry. Lots of checking and other degrade problems. After it is dried, it is even harder and will wreak havoc on your surfacing equipment, although I find it to be a very pretty wood. Whatever you use it for, it will have to be drilled for fasteners. No way to drive a nail in it. Maybe with an air nailer. I cut some and built a back porch out of it. I put it up green and as it dried, it moved a good bit, but that was okay, as I was looking for a crude, rustic look anyway. Keep your cutting tools sharp and keep your blade cool to avoid sap buildup.



From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
The secret to prevention of spread is to make sure that the bark and sawdust are not allowed to sit around, but are burned. The lumber, once dry, is not a problem. Kiln drying at 130 F provides sterilization.


From contributor B:
My understanding is that the oak wilt fungus is in the sap and the beetle that loves the sap is the culprit that spreads it, by eating and getting the sap on it and then going to a non-infected tree that has exposed sap, which is infected when the beetle contacts that sap. Correct?

I too am in Central Texas and have some red oaks dying of wilt. If I saw them, the sawdust will dry pretty fast. Is there a danger of attracting the beetle and them spreading it to uninfected trees? If I air dry the boards, how long would they be susceptible to attracting the beetles and spreading the fungus?



From contributor L:
The boys from A&M told me that the red oak is really bad for spreading in that it develops fungal rafts under the bark and it can be spread by the fungal spores. What I have read about the red oak says not to use it in any way, shape, or form because of the fungal spores. Seems it spreads real easy from them. The article I read said don't even use it for firewood. I wish I could remember where I read all this. It may have been on the A&M site.


From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
The Texas and US FS has developed a good web site or this topic, at texasoakwilt.org.

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