I absolutely love to use wide boards in my projects. Wide stuff shows up quiet often in old pieces of furniture, and I try to use the same whenever possible. It seems most folks these days think there is no way to get these wide boards anymore. They think there are simply no trees this big. And if they do find them, they are cost-prohibitive.
That’s not true; they are out there.
Most really large trees are not in the forest; they come from people’s yards most of the time. The great majority are big shade trees that eventually get too big and have to be removed, or they finally come down in a storm. Most of the big commercial mills do not want timber like this because it is often too big for their equipment and there is the chance of iron, such as old nails in the wood.
My advice is to find a small sawmill. Even if they do not have anything when you visit, leave your contact info for when something does show up. Smaller operations can and will deal with these kinds of logs. The biggest negative to lumber from sources such as this is that the lumber is usually fresh cut and green. Depending on the species and thickness, it can take months or years to air-dry. On the positive side, the lumber can be had a much lower cost than a lumber-supply house.
A few days back, Lesley Caudle of Lesley’s Sawmill called me and said he had a big cherry log come in. I have done business with Lesley for several years and he knows the kind of stuff I am looking for. In my part of the world, cherry is a pretty common tree, but large ones are rare. This one had been growing on a property line between two tracts of land. Apparently it did not get cut because neither owner knew whose tree it was. We had some pretty rough storms pass through a few weeks back, and the big cherry blew down.
The log that this tree yielded was 44′ long, 30″ in diameter on the butt end and 22″ on the small end. The tree was not perfectly straight, and the heart was out of center in a couple places. Cherry is an easy wood to air-dry and not usually temperamental; the lumber should work out fine. Leslie made me a deal, and I bought the whole tree. The big logs yielded dozens of wide clear boards from 24″ wide down to 20″.
This is one of three loads of wide boards from the big cherry.
If you are not looking, you won’t find anything. Get out and beat the bush. The big stuff will turn up.
— Will Myers