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JawjaBoy

Sweet gum?

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I had a lot of free time on my hands at work tonight (control booth officer - basically means I get to open doors and watch inmates sleep) and got to thinking.  Always a dangerous prospect, but I digress.

 

I've used my own locally harvested cedar for my lures for years and I've seen where several makers have used poplar with good results.  But what about sweet gum?  Has anyone ever used it for lures?  Our property runs from the top of a hill all the way down through a deep bottom which is eat up with sweet gum (and poplar) and I'd love to be able to be able to put it to some use.

 

So what say you?  Doable?  Not advisable?  Let me know what you think!

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I'll give this question a try since I have got trees milled, buy from mills and know some about what wood to use for this particular wood.

First off its not easy to get timber to a mill (suggest to talk to mill). Poplar or any woods have different qualities of wood. Ill break the wood down from Grade A. If you have high quality wood that we like to use, meaning no knots, limited grains, grains that run straight, mositure, etc.

I look at the wood first to make sure that I got heart wood, not any sap wood.  I call this white wood, because most poplar sap wood is a greenish wood. Mositure content is a big concern to me. When buying I pick the wood up and feel the wait while picking it up I look at the color and grain pattern. I'll tell you, I have bought, handled so much wood for this and furniture making that by handling it I can pretty much tell if I want it or not. 

I got to get the day started, read this and I'll look at this evening and answer you some more.

 

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Personally I wouldn't use sweet gum for lures.  Notoriously difficult to keep straight when drying (so air drying usually out) and the interlocking grain is prone to tear out.    It would be more valuable milled/kiln dried or cut up into turning blanks.    Many turners find it desirable.  I have made a few bowls and platters from it over the years and milled some and made small boxes to sell at the shows.   Usually kiln dried sweet gum will fall in the middle price range for domestic hardwoods, depending on the area.  

Poplar would be the much better better option and does get used  ( more for larger toothy critters).  I would say most would find the color mentioned above opposite, however.  The heart wood contains most of the color when present  (usually do to mineral uptake or stress)  but is typically pale yellow with the sapwood being pale yellow to white.   All the color  goes to browns upon oxidation/time.   Grain usually straight and runs uniform and the wood is very easy to work with.   Commonly used for  utility wood as the color/appearance isn't valued typically.   Gets used a lot in framing of furniture, core wood with more valuable veneer woods,  moldings, plywood,  etc...   Many woodworkers like to use it for wood projects that will be painted.   Commonly available at the store and essentially next step up over pine.     

Honestly wouldn't be worth paying anyone to mill a tree just for your use,  in my opinion,  based on the prices at the store.  Not for sure what your going rates are for a guy and his portable mill.  Not expensive by any means but usually better have several trees and a "more" valuable wood.    Large company  will want  acreage to mess with. You can buy a lot of poplar for cranks for under 20 bucks at a big box store and even more from a mill and dirt cheap from an individual.   For polar 1.50 to 2.00 a bd/ft is easy to find (kiln dried) in my area.   A lot of guys end up milling wood and finding out they can't get rid of it.      

You can mill your own if you have some basic tools and don't have to to a big tree.  A large limb will do fine for your use and resaw it, sticker it and dry.   I usually have a small stack of various woods stickered and drying in the back near the shop for wood working projects.

 

 

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I appreciate y'alls thoughts!  My plan is actually to do the sweet gum and poplar the same way I've always done cedar:  cut it up into short lengths with my chainsaw, use a froe and wedges to split it out into slabs, band or table saw it to rough size, dry it out, and finally saw it square.  I've always hand carved my lures before, but I'll be sizing future pieces of wood up with my lathe in mind. 

 

I don't know of any small mills near me or anyone with a portable mill, and I've got enough of my Grandad in me that I really enjoy going out in the woods to get wood to use for all kinds of projects instead of going to the store.

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19 minutes ago, SW Lures said:

I was going to write more. This sums it up, it's not worth it for baits.

 

I kinda figured that, but figured I'd ask.  Sweet gum is a "weed tree" around here.  Not really good for anything but firewood, and ain't really great for that!  Might look into cutting and drying some of the poplar trees behind the house though.  They need a little thinning. 

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5 hours ago, JawjaBoy said:

 

I kinda figured that, but figured I'd ask.  Sweet gum is a "weed tree" around here.  Not really good for anything but firewood, and ain't really great for that!  Might look into cutting and drying some of the poplar trees behind the house though.  They need a little thinning. 

 

Poplar will be fine for cranks if you want to to give it a go.  Air drying takes some time however and probably looking at late spring early summer (and easily later depending on conditions) if you did it now.   


I would cut some up also if I had some available.    Always more room for supplies.  

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Yeah, I use nothing but poplar. I just make sure "white" (what I call it) poplar and at its optimum dryness. To much it has a tendency of cracking to much moisture and everything goes bad.

If your going to time dry you will be waiting for a year or more of turning it every few months. I do that with specialty woods, walnut, cherry, oaks and cedars after oven drying. This allows the would to balance out.

If you are going to clear the land, might as well get something out of it. Watch the fire place using gums.

Dale

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No reason to turn wood and something that isn't usually done.  Just needs to be stickered properly and in are area with proper air flow until dry.  At that point the wood can be unstickered and stored however you want.   

Poplar isn't a hard wood to air dry.  In many areas 4/4  and be done in 9-10 months.   Your area may take a little longer but you can find the information on similar climate areas and the decrease in MC (moisture content) of the wood from harvesting (month dependent).   Lots of variables however so the  inch/year rule usually gets used as  a catch all.   For your area a  12-14% MC about the best you will get to unless you take it inside at that point and  dry further in a controlled climate.   Not really and issue for cranks and no big expansion contractions issues as one would have to be worried about with furniture joinery.      Typically down to 8% and typically what is sought for 8 to 10% for general furniture making (get out west in dryer climates and 6% comes into play as being achievable).   

For smaller pieces and if you really are in a hurry you can microwave dry them.  Heat for 1 minute to 1.5 minutes then let cool to ambient temperature.  Repeat, repeat, repeat..... You need to take an initial weight and stop once you reach equilibration.    Can always make solar kiln or setup a kiln with light bulbs and dehumidifier an speed things up.   I would mill the logs into boards then visually sort it into high and low grades.  The high grade/quality wood gets sandwiched in the middle the lower grade stuff.  Space the stack off the ground. The boards should be spaced about 1 inch apart and the same thickness boards done on each layer. sticker properly, and use some treated plywood (or similar to cover the top of the stack) and weight with cinder blocks or similar weight.  If you see mold you are drying too slow, checks/cracking and drying to fast.  Plenty of examples from  forestry departs, wood working sites, etc.. how to properly air dry wood.

 

Edited by Travis
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Do what i do.. Get some good carving wood that is dried, then take all that other wood you want to try, and forget about it on a high shelf for the year. By the time your through with all that stuff you bought, your stuff will be really dry and you can have a go at that. Reading this post reminded me i have some red cedar i forgot on a shelf 3 years ago.. Also, a 10' board should last you quite some time, if you dry a bunch it will last you long enough to get more drying. Im a wood hoarder, im always adding new stuff. 

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