5 Tips for Cutting Cedar Trees and Lumber

branch of a cedar tree
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Cedar lumber is a popular choice for construction and other woodwork projects, such as decking, trims, and fencing. One of the main strengths of this lightweight wood is that it is resistant to damage resulting from various environmental conditions. This includes cracking, fungal growth, rotting, and damage from insects and other pests. Cedar logs also make for ideal firewood during the winter months, as cedar lumber burns without too much effort and produce high-intensity heat.

If you have access to cedar lumber and you plan on cutting it, there are certain basic things that you need to keep in mind. Before cutting cedar lumber, it is essential to wear all the necessary safety gear. This includes gloves, goggles, and boots. You should also prepare the saw setting so that there are no mishaps or missteps during the actual felling. Given below are five tips to ensure safety and success when cutting cedar lumber.

1. Clear the Tree and the Ground

Begin by removing loose and dead branches on the tree. Since these branches could drop off during the felling, causing injury or creating an obstacle, it is best to remove the branches right away. Also, clear the ground around the tree.

2. Make Incisions

chainsaw cutting through a log

The next step is to power the saw and create a small 5-inch incision along the tree base on the falling side. Be sure not to cut too deep. Now move to the opposite side, at about a couple of inches higher than your original base incision, make a new cut. Once you make the second cut, you’ll find the tree slowly tipping over. Move away from under the tree until the tree comes down.

3. Limb the Fallen Tree

Once the tree is down, cut away the limbs. You want the log to be clean and without any clinging branches or leaves. It is best to start with the outermost limbs, working your way from top to bottom. Save the branches that can be used for the fireplace in a separate pile and turn the remaining waste into mulch or have it turned to sawdust at your local lumber mill.

4. Mill the Log

sawblade cutting a piece of cedar

Once you have the cedar log cleaned, you need to mill it. Milling is the process of cutting the log into planks. This can be done at your local mill or you can hire a freelancer to mill the lumber in your own yard. This helps keep the log free of fungus and rot.

5. Dry the Milled Wood

The final step is to have the wood dried. You can use a professional kiln for this or air-dry the wood yourself. A kiln is a time-saving option, whereas air-drying can take anywhere from a few months to over a year. To dry the wood you need to coat the open ends of the milled wood with a sealant like paraffin before stacking the wood on a slightly elevated base. Also, add stickers—flat wood pieces—between the stacked wood to prevent staining. Finally, put up a protective roof over the wood and let it sit there to dry for the season.