More Strange Tales from the Bandmill Zone

Another blade bites the dust, as the list of odd items encountered in logs continues to grow. January 13, 2006

I have been cutting red elm. I'm almost done, but I have one large butt head log that has a lot of nails and some larger pieces of metal in it. I think it's a part from an electric fence. I have burned 7 bands on it and I'm kind of fed up. Does anybody know if there are chainsaw chains for cutting through anything? I think if I can get it into some smaller cants with the chainsaw mill, I can then use the band mill again without burning so many bands. Iím almost ready to give up, but itís a beauty log with 250+ board ft in it. It would just make me sick to cut it up for firewood.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor B:
I know your frustration - I have two beautiful tight grain Doug fir - both 20' long by 3'. After I bought them from a chipping plant, I find they come from a police firing range -loaded with armour-piercing bullets. Can't even cut with chainsaw for firewood - not worth it.

From contributor D:
It's part of the game. I just rolled a few off the deck in the past and cuss them every time I have to look at them. I have a buddy who heats a big shop with wood. He burns chunks in a homemade stove that take both hands to pick up. He was cleaning the ashes out one day and found a horseshoe.

From the original questioner:
So Iím hearing it might be time to give up. Well, now I will have to go find another red elm log(s) to finish my project. Sucks to be me!

From contributor T:
If your log is from a farm fencerow, you will likely find that most of the hardware is on one face, unless it was used as a corner. Most fencing is also in the bottom 4 feet. You will usually see metal show up as a blue stain when you are cutting. If you see this, expect to find metal on the next pass. If this is not the answer, make it into firewood.

From contributor F:
A guy once asked me to resaw some salvaged Douglas fir beams for him. I told him I would do it if he could guarantee that they were free of any metal. He borrowed a metal detector from a friend who is a surveyor and he found every nail in the planks and removed them all before I started cutting. These surveyor type metal detectors are obviously very accurate.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Be careful with fencing, as some electric fences used ceramic insulators that are impossible to saw into.

From contributor R:
Yep, Gene is right. Been there, done that. I sawed a 36" pine. When I got to within inches of the heart, my saw made a sound I will never forget. Blade came off. That ceramic insulator had to have been nailed to the tree when it was very little. The end of the nail holding the insulator was touching the heart center.

From the original questioner:
I spent a couple of hours finding and digging out everything I could. I also ordered 100í of Oregon 72dp chain on the spool. I was almost out anyways, but now I can just go to town and saw through all that metal. This Oregon chain seems good when you need to saw dirty stuff. It stays pretty sharp. Tonight I bet I went though 20 16 penny nails before it gave up. Thatís a hell of lot more than any band would have done. I did finally get the big chunk out - it was a 3Ē eye bolt. Somebodyís hammock? Still not sure why there are so many nails in this sucker. Iíll cross my fingers and hope there is nothing ceramic in there. Hell, you never know - I have seen some strange things buried.

From contributor F:
I'm gonna take a wild guess at tree house steps, with so many 16 penny nails.

From the original questioner:
I donít think it was a tree house. Usually, a tree house tree has large bunches of nails right together. You know those advanced building techniques you used when you were 10 years old. Besides, you scavenged the nails from someplace, so you had to use them all. The nail pattern is very random. Itís hard to tell with elm - it grows so fast sometimes. Who knows? Maybe Iíll find a box of gold coins inside the dam thing.

From contributor I:
This was addressed a few years back in this post:
Strange stories from the sawmill
My favorites were the gold dust and the Civil War musket.