Episode-1172- Aaron Esch on Urban Logging and Using Rough Cut Timber

Did you know in the past few decades a entire new industry has been invented, one called urban logging.  Joining us today is Aaron Esch of BarnGeek.com to tell us all about it.

Imagine a system where trees in urban and surburban areas can be felled and then milled just a few feet from where they are dropped.  The resulting lumber can then be used on site or in another local area.  In most cases these are trees which need to be removed regardless of their use.

With infestations occurring like the ash borer and pine beetle there are many trees that are sick and dying and needing to be replaced, this method is a great way to insure the 20-50 years of time it took to grow them isn’t wasted.  For every tree used this way, a few less need to be cut down in the forest and less “pine farms” need to be planted creating sterile stands of evergreen monoculture.

Much of the timber that can be harvested this way is of amazing quality.  Wood that homeowners and homesteaders could never afford to buy via conventional channels.  This is an exciting new way to build and conserve resources at the same time.  Tune in today to learn more.

Resources for Today’s Show…

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15 Responses to Episode-1172- Aaron Esch on Urban Logging and Using Rough Cut Timber

  1. I wanted to post some more information on the things that I discussed with Jack.

    For more information on Chainsaw and Logging safety training, look into The Game of Logging, there are several different courses you can take whether you are a homeowner or looking into going into a more professional career.

    http://www.gameoflogging.com/training.php

    For more information on stamped and graded lumber see my article.

    http://logging.about.com/od/Manufacturing-Wood/a/How-To-Get-Your-Own-Grading-Stamp.htm

    For more information on Urban Logging and utilizing urban logs see my Interview with Jessica Simons

    http://logging.about.com/od/Eco-Friendly-Logging/tp/Urban-Logging.htm

  2. A buddy of mine uses an “Alaskan mill” on his property to great effect. He has made some great rough timber pieces for different projects, some fire ring benches, and a few table tops. He quickly developed a chain saw gear addiction…

  3. Hey Jack have you checked out Alt-Market.com? It is a little dead but a great idea and just needs some support. Check it out!

  4. Living in Montana I have to disagree with the point about cutting down the beetle kill trees in parks and wildlife areas. The reason they have decided to leave them alone isn’t because of the environmentalist but because it’s the fire suppression itself that has helped cause the pine beetle to become an epidemic. The pine beetle will only attacks mature trees not young ones. And as the humans we are, we like to interfere with nature so when we suppress the fires we don’t allow new seeds to germinate and old weak trees to be burnt and we end up having only mature forests left instead of a mix of tree ages as would naturally be if left alone.
    The mild winters haven’t helped either. Longer colder winters help keep the beetle population in check. So it’s the broad policy in MT that if the fire isn’t threatening people it’s left alone. However, in non- park wildlife areas I think more should be done to take the already dead trees instead of a living tree. I personally only cut beetle kill trees for my winter fire stock!

    • Modern Survival

      Being from Montana doesn’t make your assessment accurate. First and foremost the trees that are dead, are dead and done. They won’t spread or stop the spread of beetles. Again by the time a pine is killed by this pest the beetles have left, it is a fungus the beetle carries that kills the tree not the beetle itself.

      Burns may be a part of nature but 1,000 standing acres of dead pine is a huge fire risk. That is the kind of shit that rapidly becomes a huge disaster. Additionally your point that the beetles don’t attack young trees is a great reason to cut the dead trees and replant a new forest, with more than one species as well.

      Further that standing dead pine is great timber, it if harvested soon will save many other healthy trees from the saw.

      You suffer from a belief shared by many that if we leave things alone balance will be restored. That is a fantasy and it has been proven so many times over that it isn’t even wroth an argument at this point.

      When you see 1,000 acres of trees killed by one pest that means we created a huge imbalance, it is up to us to correct that imbalance. Letting nature “fix it” isn’t always an option.

      Go here,

      http://www.bettertimesinfo.org/pdc_all.pdf

      Start reading on page 4 under The Phasmid Conspiracy

      That is a lecture from Bill Mollison in 1983, it tells you exactly what was happening to the forests and how it saw it playing out back then, that would be 20 years ago by the way!

      • Agorculture

        Thanks, Aaron & Jack! I am about to put an offer on a property & homestead only 5 miles from where the above mentioned PDC was held. The property is 20 acres of pine. This podcast is most timely! I would like to harvest it at some point and clear land for permaculture projects while making some money. I currently live in a rural area on 1.8 acres and no logger was interested in my trees. I had to hire people to cut the trees at an expensive rate and the debris is difficult to clear. It is not economical for me to continue to clear the land without selling the timber. I have been told that lumber yards are afraid of nails that would damage their saws. The property I am eyeing was once a farm over a hundred or more years ago and the pines have reforested the area. Forest fires used to plague the state and are a concern, so I would need to clear a firebreak for my zones two and three permaculture. I haven’t listened yet, but look forward to doing so tomorrow! Also, how do I find a good, reputable timber company? I have heard of problems….
        Thanks!

    • This is a situation where a good managment plan would benifit the forests health while still producing marketable timber. I presume that the root cause of this beetle problem is the practice of clear cutting.

      This is just a theory but here me out.

      A number of years ago lets say around 100 years, the forest was clear cut and left. After that the forest began to regrow but all of the trees grew at the same time so they were all the same age. Fast forward 100 years and you have a second growth forest full of mature trees. They begin to get week coming to the end of their life cycle and so become vunrable to the beetle and the fungus that ultimatly kills them.

      Now you have an entire forest that is standing dead and dry, I did spend a summer in MT so I know how dry it gets there. Lightning strikes and suddenly you have a huge fire that takes everything out. Now you have the same situation you had 100 years ago, a fresh start with new seedlings that are all the same age. All that young new growth being the same age will go through the same cycle again. When the forest matures in 100 years it will go through the same process and this destructive cycle will continue until, we actually take responsibility and manage the forest properly.

      This forest should be selectivly cut to mimic the natural procces and maybe excelerate it a bit, to add some diversity in age and species back into the forest. I think managment like this will go along way to preventing devestating fires in the future.

      • That’s more or less how I (and I assume must Montanans) think. I wasn’t able to articulate that. The article jack posted is right if I read it correctly, was saying the pine beetle isn’t the cause but the effect of humans. But the point I was trying to make with the fires is that the lodge pole pine needs the fires to reproduce. Adolescent lodge poles are very adept to surviving fires. Part of the human response to try and rectify the problem in THIS case is inaction of fire suppression. For better or worse. They do selective cullings where they can as well I assume to better mimic nature like you said though it’s more of a chop and drop than a harvest.

  5. All the posts & beams holding up my wrap-around porch are beetle-kill from the Kaibab Mountain, just north of the Grand Canyon.

    Loved this podcast and love Aaron’s site. I’m an old barn junkie from way back. And Aaron, I’ll be using your chicken coop plans – thanks!

    • Awesome! Make sure to share pictures on the website when you are done with your chicken coop. Many others already have, that one page gets more traffic than the rest of my website.

  6. BarnGeek,

    Could you please give some specific suggestiongs on equipment. How big of a mill do you need for 12 ” diameter oak trees? Which brands are good? What other equipment is needed. Thanks.

    • Oh and for a pole barn can you burry untreated oak?

      • I wouldn’t, in fact I wouldn’t bury any wood treated or untreated. Eventually all buried wood will rot. Even treated wood, after 50 years will be rotted away. We have seen this evident in many dairy barns that were built 30 to 40 years ago. The posts have continued to be trapped in a moisture rich environment covered with wet manure and have rotted off right at the ground level.

        We use powder coated steel brackets that attach the post to a concrete foundation, whether its a poured wall or a pier. The key is to design a building where the wood cannot stay wet. If you trap moisture your wood will rot. It’s okay if the wood gets wet as long as it can quickly dry out.

    • Well, I did some reviews on portable sawmills a couple years back.

      http://logging.about.com/od/Portable-Sawmill-Reviews/tp/Portable-Sawmill-Buyers-Guide.htm

      It really depends on your goals. Almost any mill out there will process 12″ diameter trees, I can’t think of one that doesn’t. There are many manufacturers and sizes available that range in price from $1,000 for a chainsaw or “Alaskan” mill, all the way up to $40k for a deisiel Woodmizer or TimberKing with all the bells and whistles.

      For a good small manual mill for a farm or homesteder my number one recomendation would be a Norwood mill. They have 2 different models, I have owned the older version of the small one and was very satisfied with it. It does require a bit of mechanical ability though because it comes to you fully disassembled. It took me about 40 hours to put mine together.

  7. Wanting a good solid kitchen table unlike those available in the big box stores, I picked out plans for an oak table. We bought red oak from a small local saw mill, better wood for much less $. My dad built the table for me.

    There is also at least one local guy with a portable saw mill who will rough cut your felled timber on site. Likes your wood still green before cutting.

    One of our ancient beech trees died this past year. It is huge, can’t reach around its trunk. Lots of wood. No way to fell the tree without hitting other trees, no structures to worry about. Deciding what to do with it. Eventually it will rot and fall down. At which point I’m sure it’d damage other trees.