It’s what’s inside that counts

I have been working with an excellent red oak log. It’s dead-straight, even, clear. Everything I want. The boards I have been riving and planing are around 8” wide, some 10” wide panels came earlier from it as well.

This week, I have been working a short section that I crosscut for panels and other 2-foot stuff. I got to the last quarter of it yesterday. From the outside, it looks great.

I split it with wedges and a sledgehammer, and it busted right open. 

….Then, I pulled it apart & looked inside

Yikes. what a mess.

Turns out rather than 10” wide panels, I got a bunch of 2” square stuff for some joined stools.

From two of  these sections, I managed to plane 7 stiles. (one’s leaning upright) Something happened to number 8. Oh well. 

Meanwhile, there is another log I have also been working. This is narrower stuff, maybe 6 1/2” wide pieces on average. There was a weird growth pattern, lots of straight-grained wood in the first half of the tree’s growth, then some strange wiggle to the grain. It’s throughout a lot of what I have seen in this log. It might be hard to see in this photo, but the bottom half of the shot has a very rippled grain to it…


Found part of the problem this week. No hardware that I have found, but some localized injury to the tree.


I have used some of this stock in a joined chest I just finished; but these pieces are junk. Here’s the chest, I am planning on shooting some details of it soon. 

Now, some birds. First up, some downy woodpeckers. One feeding another, but I couldn’t decide if it’s a male/female pair feeding, or an adult feeding a juvenile.  

Then, tonight I saw a certain juvenile scooting into a roosting hole, or is it the nest? 

Actually, he/she looked into this hole, then moved up one flight, into a hole just above this one. The tree is a locust. (can’t decide if the bird is a hairy woodpecker, not a downy. The bill looks a bit long for downy…but I’d need better views)

 Is this goodnight? 

Meanwhile, there was a trio of white-breasted nuthatches scooting all around…I saw them being fed too, but didn’t get a shot. Here’s one of them:


13 thoughts on “It’s what’s inside that counts

  1. Didn’t know we had pileated woodpeckers here
    but I saw one last Friday and then heard him laugh.
    WAY to fast for me to capture with a camera

    • It’s just the opposite – the wrinkled wood is the healed part. The straight stuff is before the injury. I suspect it’s nails, just haven’t found them yet. Haven’t seen any blue/black stain either. So what do I know. But much of the log is OK.

  2. Somehow I hate surprises inside bits of wood…..
    I wrote about a couple of bullets I found inside some quarter sawn boards that I think originated in France.

    And Im always finding bits of gate post or farm machinery embeded in a tree. Anyway, good luck with that billet.

    Sadly, here in Wales our woodpeckers are depleted this year down to one pair, though the cuckoos arrived 2 weeks ago.

    All best
    Howard In Wales

  3. Peter,
    How far away are you getting your oak? Those tree service guys in NH should be able to assist. You may want to check your passport before you go up there.

  4. Peter,
    The two downy woodpeckers must be an adult male and a juvenile male. Out here on the left coast the way we distinguish males from females is the males have the red dot on the back of the head and the females don’t. I think the other picture is a hairy woodpecker. It looks too big in relation to the hole in the tree to be a downy.
    Too bad about that knot. Well you do need some stool legs, and the rest of it makes great firewood.

  5. I just saw one white breasted nut hatch down here in Charlottesville this past week. They are pretty neat, It was hanging upside down at the bird feeder. Pretty funny guy.

  6. That’s what happens to me when I start splitting. After looking at your pictures I think I am being too optimistic on the length of the logs I work with. I had enough time the other day to make one of these bowl turning tools. Found that a robin had nested on the steel rack, so they will have to wait. My 8 year old neighbor showed me where the “search” dealybob is, so I’m off to look for piercers.

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