How to use every part of a tree

You can waste a tree, easy. Or, you can use everything, including the stump. There are many ways to utilize all parts of the tree. I found this article about using all of the tree, written by Eric Reuter. It was published at MotherEarthNews where you can read the entire article.

How to use every part of a tree

Here’s a look at how we break down an especially abundant and useful tree, one that is simultaneously native and invasive: the Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana).

Why Cut Trees?

Trees may be the lungs of the planet, but they’re not all created equal. Forests can be overcrowded, leading to disease or stunted tree growth. Former prairies or glades may be encroached on by trees in the absence of fire or other factors, leading to a loss of biodiversity and habitat. Some species may have lost their value in the modern world; young elms today are unlikely to attain their historic glory, as Dutch Elm Disease will almost certainly strike them down before their prime.

Other species take advantage of human disturbance to expand beyond their normal habitat; Eastern Red Cedars are particularly aggressive at establishing undesirable monocultures in the absence of fire or other management. Like a herd of animals, keeping a forest of trees healthy requires thinning the herd now and then, and making proper use of the results. On our homestead, cedars are everywhere, colonizing pastures and choking woodlands, so every winter we set forth to reduce their numbers without wasting their resources.


Clockwise from upper left: Small-medium cedar logs ready for milling; setting up a portable sawmill; fresh-cut cedar lumber; a garden shed built from on-farm cedar lumber. All photos by Joanna Reuter 


Our largest trees have trunks over 2’ in diameter; we consider trunks down to around 5” diameter or so useful for the following:

Lumber: Many of our trunks become lumber, using a portable sawmill we hire by the day once we’ve hauled enough logs to be worth the time. The rot-resistant cedar is an excellent outdoor building material, which we’ve used to construct four outbuildings and other infrastructure. We’ve also sold lumber to folks for uses including barn siding, garden beds, and porch decking.

Fence posts: Trunks from 6”-9” wide make excellent fence posts. We cut these 10’ long and sink them in a 2’-3’ hole dug by our tractor-auger, connecting them with welded-wire paneling or tensioned electric line. Thinner saplings can be lashed to T-posts to support fence extensions aimed at deer exclusion.

Cut-off stumps and other odd trunk chunks can be cured as firewood. While cedar firewood is not advisable for use in indoor wood stoves, due to its tendency to soot up a chimney, its hot burn is great for outdoor furnaces or other fires. For years we sold truckloads of cedar stumps and other cured scrap to a nearby dairy which used an outdoor furnace to heat the dairy and the pasteurizer.

Milling logs produces a lot of scrap material, mostly the bark-covered outer slabs from initially squaring the log. These can be used for fencing, whether laid out like a split-rail fence, attached upright to braces like a picket fence, or attached sideways to brace fence posts. Cured, they also make excellent firewood for outdoor use; we use piles of milling scrap to cook down maple sap in spring and heat hog-scalding water in fall. We also use them to fill muddy spots in our farm roads.

Read more at MotherEarthNews


Turning a tree into lumber using a homemade Alaskan Mill


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