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Urban Wood Utilization in Connecticut: Problems and Potential Solutions for the Use of Solid Wood from Urban Trees

Some of the issues that hinder the more widespread use of wood from urban trees are:

  • The relatively small volumes of wood available at any one location.
  • The potential to hit embedded objects such as concrete and nails that could damage sawmill equipment.
  • The need for heavy equipment to move logs.  This equipment could damage buildings, landscaping, buried pipes and septic systems.
  • Poor quality wood from trees damaged by lawn mowers and weed whips.
  • Trees with defects in the wood as a result of improper pruning.
  • Localized decay and discoloration of the wood.

Rejected logs at Hinman sawmill
Presence of metal and other embedded objects, boring marks,
decay, bad pruning practices, etc., are common causes for sawmill
operators to reject logs from urban trees.

There are aspects of wood from urban trees that can counterbalance these problems.

  • Urban trees are often species of interest to specialty craft workers and artisans. Many ornamental species produce beautiful wood not readily available otherwise.

  • Common urban trees (oaks, sugar maple, black walnut, black cherry) are among the most valuable and desirable hardwoods for local sawmills.

  • Logs can be scanned for metal using a metal detector before they go through the sawing process. The metal discovered can be avoided.

  • Portable sawmills can be used for the efficient and cost-effective processing of even a single tree in urban settings. These machines are relatively lightweight, can be mounted on a two-wheel trailer and pulled behind a pickup truck. The potential for site damage from heavy equipment needed to load and move logs is reduced.

  • Logs should be processed as soon as they are cut from a live tree to reduce chance of stain, decay and insect attack.

End log with metal blue stain
The blue coloration at the end of this log indicates the
presence of metal near the stained area.

Resources

Cassens, D., & McKenzie, R. (n.d.). Use of Urban and Development Site Trees for Lumber. Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University.

Cesa, E., Lempicki, E. A., & Knotts, J. H. (2003). Recycling Municipal Trees: A Guide for Marketing Sawlogs from Street Tree Removals in Municipalities. USDA, Forest Service, NA-TP-02-04.

Urban Wood Utilization - Introduction and Table of Contents

Content last updated October 2019