Don’t Get Your Chair Wood From the Side of A Mountain!

I went up to Arkansas to find the white oak logs for these ladder back chairs I am making. The fellow that I bought the timber from let me go up and see where he was cutting the wood. I noticed that some of the logs were coming from the side of a fairly steep mountain. I had a feeling that the wood might be curly based on some of my past experience about hillside timber, more on that in a second.

I also looked at the end grain of the log and noticed a little wave to it. It was too nice a log to pass up so I just went for it.

It split fairly nicely for white oak, except I noticed some curl, it was especially harder to split along the ray plane. However the drawknife really let me know about the curl and yes it was curly. I just hope I can get the entire tear out of it with the spokeshave.

Curly white oak

Curly white oak tearout

I have experienced this same thing with a walnut tree that I harvested. When the tree is growing on a hillside, it is put under incredible stress as it is trying to grow straight. The stress is translated to the grain thus creating some very nice curl. Well, I am not sure if it so nice trying to rive it and work it with a drawknife! The walnut tree that I harvested a few years back yielded me some incredible curly walnut. I was able to make a few pieces from that walnut tree. I have posted a couple pictures of those pieces below.

Curly walnut in jewelry cabinet

Curly walnut in jewelry cabinet

Curly Walnut Desk

Curly Walnut Desk

The next log that I split for rungs, split so incredibly beautiful that I felt spoiled!

Next time I go get logs for splitting chair parts, I am going to make sure the wood has been growing on a perfectly flat plain. In the mean time I am going to go back to fighting curl!

Frank Strazza

2 Responses to Don’t Get Your Chair Wood From the Side of A Mountain!

  1. Jay O August 8, 2014 at 9:56 PM #

    The first christmas after my wife and I were married, we harvested a live christmas tree (very small) from the side of a mountain near Jellico, Tenn. We took it home and put it in a bucket. That was when we learned not to harvest a tree from the side a mountan. No matter what we tried. The tree would not stand straight. So, for our first Christmas, we had a crooked tree.

    • Frank Strazza August 8, 2014 at 11:03 PM #

      HI Jay,

      That’s a great story! Thanks for sharing it.