A Big’un Showed Up

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


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13 Responses to A Big’un Showed Up

  1. fitz says:

    That is sweet.

  2. Paul Sidener says:

    To say I’m jealous would be an understatement. I still have about 20 boards from the last batch I bought. Not as wide, but 8ft long. That is beautiful wood.

  3. Paul Straka says:

    I had my dead Ash tree cut up on site a few years ago. Now I have beautiful 5/4 Ash flooring in my shop. Boards are 9″-15″ wide. To find local sawyers go here: http://woodmizer.com/us/Services/Find-a-Local-Sawyer
    Some will come to your site.

  4. Will…if you really like these and want to take a “tree vacation” the Loyalsock Trail in Pennsylvania yields the largest Cherry I have ever seen within the state forest this trail passes through. This region has produced (allegedly) the largest Cherry timber ever. I spoke with one Forester there that believes it is a variant from the standard in the species. Your tree in the post is average if not small. Some of the stands we moved through looked more like old growth Tulip Poplar than they did Cherry…Its work the trip…

    • Derek Long says:

      North central PA is full of large stock. Growing up in NEPA I really took it for granted. I weep to think of all that hardwood at hand now that I live in the West.

    • Will Myers says:

      A trip there would leave me lusting for something I could not have I am afraid!

      • These large trees are not something I would call common, per se, yet finding Cherry there (through old contacts) over 2 feet in width is still not rare. I recently saw a Mustang (those butt sections that roll down into revines within the SF and other longing operations) that was over 3 feet just above breast height and was informed by the Sawyer that larger can be found. With the new resurgence in Live Edge slab interest, these are becoming rarer to be sure…in the wild…yet it is fun to look for them…

  5. Eric R says:

    Boy O Boy, I can see some wonderful projects in that lumber…

  6. Derek Long says:

    I just keep thinking about the three truckloads part. Geesh.

  7. Deniseg says:

    That’s the stuff that dreams are made of. I need to get to know my local sawyers.

  8. davidknight5 says:

    That cherry looks beautiful. I hope you’ll post the details of the projects you use it in when it has air dried. Knowing the provenance of the wood used in projects is wonderful.

  9. Bob Jones says:

    I hope you sawed it at least 5/4. Any thinner is not good for such premium boards. Nice find.

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