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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
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    • CommentAuthorRobinB
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2018
    We are likely to have to fell a large beech tree approx 130 years old, which is very close to our house in West Yorkshire. It is healthy but has quite a lean to it and our tree safety survey has recommended it be replaced. It has a TPO so yet to be approved by the council. Having been rather upset at it's likely loss I'm now wondering how to make best use of the timber. Any bright ideas, offers or wants welcomed. We are near j25 of the M62. I hope to build again in a few years and we do have a woodstove here so those are possible uses for the timber.
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2018
    If you like, wood flooring, see if you can find someone with a portable mill, get it planked, put it in stick to dry, ( or even better find someone with a kiln) get it machined up as tongue and groove. Convert the waste to firewood.
    But might be an expensive way to get a floor.
    what ever you do with the wood - do it quickly. Over here beach is removed and processed as soon as possible as there is a danger of fungus getting into the wood and whilst this particular fungus is not detrimental to the strength of the wood it is colour disfiguring. I am presuming the same would apply in the UK.

    If you can't use the wood yourself I would be looking for a contract to sell the tree standing as an easy option, but make sure that the contract details the clear up properly
    • CommentAuthorBeau
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2018 edited
    Posted By: Peter_in_Hungarywhat ever you do with the wood - do it quickly. Over here beach is removed and processed as soon as possible as there is a danger of fungus getting into the wood and whilst this particular fungus is not detrimental to the strength of the wood it is colour disfiguring. I am presuming the same would apply in the UK.

    Yes "spalted" beech is popular over here for turners but the fungus soon spreads and weakens the wood.

    Beech is generally a very plain wood so is not popular for fine furniture but was used widely for for laminated work. School chairs and desks were more often than not made of beech. If the tree has a lean there will be a lot of tension in the wood and when planked this is likely to cause problems with the boards warping along their length.

    Hate to say it on this biomass hating forum but it makes the best firewood and dries quickly.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2018 edited
    Felling and converting the wood for any future interior use is a waste of time IMO. The effort, storage facilities, and care are not worth it; plus at the end of a long journey you may well end up with a pile of fungal or worm riddled, not particularly attractive unless your'e into ebonising, firewood.
    Peter's suggestion of contracting the the felling may be the best option with some of the branch wood and wood chipped brash left on site for firewood and mulch.
    P.S. if there are any burrs or unusual bits they may well be worth saving for passing on to a craft wood-turner.
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2018
    I disagree - beech is a lovely timber, and if lightly marked with the fungus aka spalted is even nicer. This structural frame pictured was made from two beeches which fell on site - the cores were 'rotten' from honey fungus but plenty of it was good. Beech is non-durable so should only be used, structurally, when it can be guaranteed dry i.e. completely internal.
      Croydon Hall 012cropped.jpg
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2018 edited
    Spalted beech skirtings and cillboards
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2018
    • CommentAuthorRobinB
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2018
    I fear Owlman may be right, I'd be making a rod for my own back (one of many!) and we can settle for a plentiful supply of firewood. (yes, Beau!)

    Fostertime I love your beech framing but we have no need for further space here and the next house is a few years off. If I can find a portable mill at reasonable cost I'm tempted to try and take a token amount of the old tree for the next place. Personally I like "plain" wood and fancy it as windowsills or somesuch.

    We brought stone flags from the old house for this one and I like the way helped "tether" this house.
    If anyone has a personal interest in some wood feel free to post or PM. The tree is just so beautiful at this time of year, I feel just a tad bereft. Maybe the tree man from the council will say no but I'm can't see the council taking the risk as it is so close to three houses.
    • CommentAuthordickster
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2018
    Seriously, get another tree inspector in!

    Every single tree is dangerous because one day it will fall over and could damage/kill something/someone.

    Our tree survey was done very poorly and expensively, with the inspector writing off perfectly good trees, thinking that that's what we wanted (to get rid of them before building). A quiet word in the ear was all it took to turn them back into good safe trees.

    Your tree hasn't been condemned, you are simply advised to replace it (inspector covering a*se in case one day it goes and falls down). Maybe you could carry on enjoying until you are advised that it is in a dangerous state and should be felled, under which circumstance the TPO will no longer apply, I believe
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2018
    Some of the wood may exhibit signs of live wood spalting, (Fungal discolouration ) which can be quite attractive. In the main however it's more than likely to be various mottled shades of pinky brown. On the continent it's usually steamed to equalise the colour to a more even reddish brown. All of this you'll not discover until it's converted.
    If you do decide to keep a bit and "stick" it you'll most likely get it to between 12-18% MC air dried. and you may find a use for it for small projects. The sapwood will almost certainly suffer from worm infestation whilst in stick and blue stain may also be a problem. Timber shakes, checking,cupping,twisting and warping not to mention the growing stresses Beau mentioned may also manifest themselves, but heigh-ho give it a try and you may be lucky and get a nice kitchen trolley worktop or something similar
    I know how you feel though, Ive planted many trees on my property over the years and I feel a real loss when one of them succumbs.
    I have taken trees down before, (beech and cherry) and from what were large trees I was surprised how little usable planks were obtained even tho I was trying to maximise the planks and minimise the fire wood!
    Just to say don't over plan the project based on this large tree.
    Completely agree with Dickster. I very much doubt your tree is a problem. 130 years is just a young sapling in the life of a Beech tree. If you actually want to keep the tree then ask the question of the council whether the tree has TPO on it. Even if it has no TPO it will spur the tree officer into a free inspection where you can tell the inspector that you would like to keep the tree. Unless it is showing real disease issues then if the tree has no TPO on it already then you can guarantee the inspector would put a TPO on it.
    If it was near to my house I would have it removed if I could. I have seen the damage that a large branch falling from a beech tree can do. A friend's garage was completely destroyed by a large branch around 10" to 12" diameter snapping off and falling onto the garage. I think it is the nature of beech that it is brittle.
    We lost some big trees to Dutch Elm disease, it's amazing how much firewood you get from each large tree. In our case the wood burning is only for supplemental heating in the cold weather. We realised it would take very many years to burn through it all, and until then we would have to store it. However you need to split and stack it all fairly quickly, if you store it as tree-sized logs it goes hard.

    We didn't fancy turning the whole garden into a timber pile for years, so ended up giving most of it away to random strangers, amazing how word spreads when there is a tree down, people showed up with trailers.

    We tried to get a sawmill interested in taking the timber but not enough straight lengths and too far from the road to be worth their while, plus some sections were hollow.
    A wood turner showed interest in taking some, but there were too many splits.
    Uncle had flooring made from trees felled on his land. Despite air drying for some years it still shrank significantly after being installed. For use in modern houses for furntiture or floor really does need to be kiln dried.
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2018 edited
    www.milsomtreecare.com/about has his own mobile mill - excellent ethos.
    • CommentAuthorRobinB
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2018
    Thank you all for your comments. Tree already has a TPO. That mobile mill not local to me here in Yorkshire but it's an area I'd hope to move to, so good to know.
    I loathe and detest mature trees being felled, because they just "might" fail.
    I would rather fix a roof afterwards, probably courtsey of the house insurance, than fell preventively.
    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTimeMay 1st 2018
    What If the falling tree (or roof...) preventively fells a mature person ? (loathable / detestable or otherwise ?)

    • CommentTimeMay 1st 2018
    What if 'a person' spends time dangerously outdoors near trees, in a car, in a plane, eating processed foods or any of the other terrible risks in the modern world - none of these should be allowed, so we can feel safe from every imaginable threat (as if the unexpected ones won't get us anyway).
    • CommentAuthormike7
    • CommentTimeMay 1st 2018
    Posted By: fostertomWhat if 'a person' spends time dangerously outdoors near trees, in a car, in a plane, eating processed foods or any of the other terrible risks in the modern world - none of these should be allowed, so we can feel safe from every imaginable threat (as if the unexpected ones won't get us anyway).

    It's a matter of informed and balanced risk/benefit assessment. A doctor I know who has spent time in A&E will understandably not allow her children to play on a trampoline - but her close and frequent experience of the accidents and injuries that do occur means - In my view - she is unable to assess in a balanced way the pros and cons.

    There may be options other than felling in the case of a possibly dangerous tree. I sleep nightly in falling range of a neighbour's splendid lime tree. I'd be happier if it could be crown-reduced or pollarded to reduce the risk in these times of climate change when strong winds seem more likely than used to happen, especially when the tree is still in leaf. You can see that the tree has been cut back to about 25 ft before, maybe 40 or 50 yrs ago, and it has clearly recovered and thrived since. I would hate to see it felled.
    One other thing we found with our elms: the tree felling contractors would normally climb up the tree and work downwards cutting off logs as they go.
    However if the tree is dead or diseased they (quite reasonably) need to hire a huge expensive cherry picker and work from that, instead of climbing the tree. So there is cost incentive to fell the tree well before it becomes dead/diseased, not after.
    One last thought, the OP might be able to get the tree straightened. Either by chopping some heavy branches off on the 'downhill' side, or by using guy ropes to coax it back straighter. Some historic beech trees at a N T property near us have been saved like this.

    Edit: guy ropes like this for smaller trees.
    Selective branch removal for bigger trees
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2018
    Guy ropes - blimey. That could be a way to be certain that when/if a tree fell it wouldn't be in a dangerous direction. I can imagine future safety regs requiring all trees to be so guyed!
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2018
    My parents bought a garden table and benches made from beech in the mid 70's. My mother still has it. It was initially oiled up each year, but that has not happened in recent years and I think it may have had a coat or two of wood stain on it in the last 15 years.

    Having lived in Buckinghamshire, I got a bit bored of looking at beech trees. Now I am in Cornwall, any tree is a treat.

    Don't burn it.
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