Tag Archives: windfall

Playing with the oak windfall

After trying unsuccessfully to pull the snapped oak trunk off the ten foot high stump, I called on Bill Devereux for help, and, with the right gear, the trunk was down on the floor in no time. I decided to cut the first planks from the upper half of the log, so I cut some nobbly bits off the top in order to mount the ladder for the first cut.

First Bill arranged a winch to pull the top of the log onto the bank, so that it was easier to cut with the chainsaw mill. This enabled him to demonstrate some impressive lumberjack poses, something which he does very well!

I hoped to cut the top off the log immediately, but was stopped in my tracks – the log was just too wide for the 24 inch bar on my chainsaw.

So it had to wait for our next weekend in the wood, when I brought my mini mill. This enables the chainsaw to run along a track attached to the top of the log, with the bar vertical. This takes a slice off the side of the log, which made it narrow enough for my main mill to cut horizontal planks successfully.

I then attached the ladder to the top of the log, which the chainsaw mill ran along, making a level horizontal cut which removed the top bark.

The mill can now run along the level surface and cut successive planks of any thickness – up to about ten inches.

For the first plank, I set the thickness at three inches as I have some chair legs in mind. The oak was so wet that it was a struggle getting it into the Landrover to take home – the tree has been down for seven months, but that has made little difference to the water it contains.

So far I have been exploring sycamore wood – obtained by felling three trees – and using it to make things. It’s a beautiful wood, showing wonderful light reflections from its grain, with an occasional ripple effect which looks three dimensional.

Now I’m looking forward to learning about oak, a wood embedded in our history and consiousness.


I’m slowly using up my store of timber from the wood, but I’m getting a bit bored with sycamore and would like a bit of variety. I’ve had my eye on a tall straight ash tree as my next source of logs and planks from the wood, but I would be quite pleased to have the variety provided by the lucky dip of windfalls.

However, our trees seem to be very sturdy, and windfalls are mostly happening in the valley next door:

Silver birch windfall

The problem is the steep slope that stolen logs would have to be hauled up – a strong incentive for honesty.

However, when we inspected the wood after Storm Doris, we found that an oak tree on the woodbank which forms the border with our neighbour’s section had succumbed, and this was very conveniently adjacent to our glade that we use for camping/brewing up/hanging out.

I was quite pleased with this, as I am wanting to do some work in green oak – particularly the sort of carving exemplified by Pete Follansbee. Even better, the oak had taken down a bough on an adjacent ash tree, so I’ll have a nice choice of material to work with from these windfalls.

There’s quite a few days of play to keep me busy here, but yesterday, Paul helped me to make a start, removing the upper branches and burning the brash:

There’s a lot of excellent firewood here to keep us warm next winter, and as Paul said, the more wood we have taken off the tree, the more seems to be left!

The task on the next visit to the wood will be to winch the trunk of the tree off the stump, and then fell the stump. There’ll be some nice planks to be milled there, once it’s on the ground.