Mariton: Lumbering Along
by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager
Josh and I have been using NLT’s Woodmizer (a portable saw mill) to mill logs into lumber. The logs we are milling fell during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. They were located in areas that I didn’t want the heavy machinery going when the salvage loggers came to Mariton. I used the tractor to haul out the logs with minimal disturbance. Fortunately, the wood is still good after all of this time lying in the forest.
We are mostly milling Tuliptrees (Liriodendron tulipifera), but also milled some Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) and White Ash (Fraxinus americana). I like to have a supply of tulip (many people refer to this as poplar or tulip poplar) for all sorts of projects, including bird boxes. It saves Mariton money, because I don’t have to drive to the lumberyard when I need boards. Besides its availability, it saws easily and can be nailed easily (which isn’t true of a lot of hardwoods).
If you have visited Mariton you have seen examples of tulip lumber that I have milled over the years. The most notable example is the tulip paneling in the Nature Center.
Another example is the Bird Blind. That was a project early in my career at Martion. In this case the siding is mostly tulip, with some white ash. People will say that tulip doesn’t stand up well in outside applications, but the bird blind is about 20 years old. I stained the siding and have tried to minimize contact with the soil and splash. I think it has held up very well.
The boards I am cutting will need to air dry in the shop for about a year. This is not finished lumber; it is still rough sawn, but for most projects I don’t need smooth boards. If I did, I would borrow a planer from another preserve.
It is rewarding when I build a nest box (or even check one) knowing that it came from a tree that fell in the forest that I am passionate about, and that I manage. Knowing that I hauled the tree out of the woods and milled the lumber is a very special feeling.