Unusual Quilted Figure in Eastern Red Cedar

      A sawmill owner shows off a one-in-a-million Cedar board with wavy, curly figure, and a photo of the log's unusual bark. November 16, 2011

Question
This ERC board below is a log that came out quilted while sawing. I have sawed one other log like this about six years ago, but it belonged to a customer. I think he nailed the boards up on the chicken house as he was not impressed with them. I tried to swamp him out, but no deal. These are mine and I have been trying to think of what I am going to do with them. I do not need a chicken house right now. I thought that you might like to see a very rare and pretty board.


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Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor U:
If you have enough, that would make one beautiful hope chest or blanket chest.



From contributor X:
A few years back I sawed an ERC log with some striping similar to what tiger maple has, but it was not nearly as pronounced as what you have there. That really is very rare in the species. I have an ERC bar top in the house that has the purple feathers in it which is also rare, but not nearly as rare as quilting.


From contributor X:
Did you happen to notice anything about the log before you sawed it up that might have indicated some kind of figuring?


From the original questioner:
Yes! The bark was very different. When I saw the log come in on the truck I got very excited. I had guessed what was in there since it looked like the one I sawed years ago. I only had the butt section of this tree and did not get the top. It produced eight 1x8's and two 1x6's and one 1x4. I even kept the slabs because they are so pretty.


From contributor V:
What causes curly and quilted grain anyway? It seems to be more common in trees with core rot, but sometimes it goes almost to the core with no rot.


From contributor X:
"What causes curly and quilted grain anyway?" Same with all figure. In a single word - stress.


From the original questioner:
This log had the figure all the way end to end and from the pith to the bark. You can see in the photo that park is wavy. It is like that over the whole log. Sometimes you see bark like this around limbs and at the bottom of the log near the butt. This one had it all the way up and very uniform. Other than being wavy it is very gray and smooth for ERC.


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From contributor V:
To contributor X: If stress is the answer then how come many of the curly cherry logs I have sawn show little if any tension in the middle of sawmilling, or after drying? Black cherry in my NJ area can have lots of sawmill warp and drying warp issues, but I have successfully dried all my curly cherry logs in the past without unexpected or unusual drying defect, if anything it seems a little more stable.

I know we are talking ERC here, but if curl throughout an entire log is caused by stress, then how come these logs do not tend to relieve the stress of what caused the curl in the first place? This is according to my experience. Maybe I'm wrong, but I've never had a woodworker tell me that curly whatever warped or behaved unusually. If you saw this kind of material green off a sawmill, when it's dry you will generally feel bumps in sync with the curls because the grain seems to shrink parallel to the wave of the grain, but the boards still remain flat enough for little removal for wide face jointing and planing.

Maybe if the tree and log are in healthy shape the root system has a disease? Some perfectly formed burls with no interior rot make me think the same, specifically trees growing in cemeteries that have figured grains and no visible rot inside or out from what I have seen above ground.



From contributor X:
". . . if curl throughout an entire log is caused by stress, then how come these logs do not tend to releive the stress of what caused the curl in the first place? "

My thinking is that curl or any other kind of figure is a result of stress relief that's already taken place to varying degrees. Stress is doesn't always wait until the drying stage to manifest itself. Stresses are relieved in the tree during the life cycle and the result is all kinds of beautiful. This is just my own thinking and is probably out in left field. But to my thinking and experience stress is not always only relieved as the log loses moisture, some stress I believe trees are able to deal with while still alive. Just my opinion and not based on any kind of actual study or research.



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