Home>Discussions>GREEN HOUSE & HOME>Turning a big tree into lumber for an extension?
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Dogleg
Turning a big tree into lumber for an extension?

We're planning to extend and renovate our 100-year-old house, and all the plans that make sense involve removing an enormous poplar tree. The prospect makes me want to cry, as the tree is probably 100-150 years old and healthy and straight, but it's either remove the tree or abandon our plans.

It occurred to me that a possible consolation would be to have the tree milled into lumber and used to build the extension. This seems more environmentally conscious and less wasteful than simply chopping it up for firewood. But is it practical? Is it cost effective? What is poplar wood suitable for: framing, flooring, doors, paneling, cabinetry, trim, etc.? Any recommendations for arborists and lumber mills in the Northern New Jersey area?

Any help or advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Ari

ed21
Re: Turning a big tree into lumber for an extension?

Poplar has traditionally been used as a secondary wood for furniture making.
Try to find a lumber mill in your area and see if they are interested. I'm in Maryland and even though I don't live near traditional logging areas, I still see the occasional logging operation taking down a stand of trees instead just cutting for firewood.
Poplar does make decent firewood too.

Moon Over My Hammy
Re: Turning a big tree into lumber for an extension?

Poplar is lightweight, weak, brittle and only moderately strong. It holds nails poorly its ability to hold screws is only fair. Old growth yellow poplar might make good barn siding or a fence, but that's about it, expect to be repairing due to lack of fastener holding.

Most of the building code rules require the use of GRADED lumber for structural building, so you'd have to hire a professional grader to inspect the lumber or buy graded lumber for load bearing members. If there is no grading requirement in your building codes, you'd still have to check with your insurance company to make sure you can get homeowner's insurance for your house if it does not use graded lumber. I doubt there is any poplar old growth lumber that would be able to be used for structural building.

If you're interested in using it save it for cabinets and furniture and hire out a portable sawmill operator with good insurance with a good metal detector, you don't want the liability on you should they encounter a spike, nail, bullet, chain, in the tree.

Hiring out the transport of equipment of the tree itself to mill a single tree doesn't make economical sense if you don't own the equipment unless it is an exotic or expensive species old growth disease and rot free tree, like black walnut, but it is always a gamble.

JLMCDANIEL
Re: Turning a big tree into lumber for an extension?

Polar has traditionally been used for lap siding, trim, and in furniture but never as far as I know for structural elements.
Jack

xyxoxy
Re: Turning a big tree into lumber for an extension?

I seem to recall an episode of TOH where they used a crane and backhoe to actually transplant some old growth trees into a new development.

I imagine the cost would be up there but if you are also digging a new foundation for your addition perhaps you could combine the costs... assuming you find a willing and able contractor.

Dogleg
Re: Turning a big tree into lumber for an extension?

Folks, thanks so much for your replies -- plenty I hadn't thought about, like building codes and grading requirements.

A new wrinkle -- the tree species was misidentified. In fact it's a yellow poplar, which is not a poplar species at all -- the more common name is a tulip tree, which is a species of magnolia. Is tulip wood similar in characteristics to poplar, or is it good for different applications?

Transplanting the tree would be incredible -- I'll try to look up that ToH episode! But I can't imagine it -- we're talking about something 100 feet tall and 4 feet in diameter at the base -- renting the crane alone would probably run to tens of thousands of dollars, and there's probably no arborist who would put a high percentage on the likelihood of the tree surviving the root system damage.

::Ari

Moon Over My Hammy
Re: Turning a big tree into lumber for an extension?
Moon Over My Hammy wrote:

Poplar is lightweight, weak, brittle and only moderately strong. It holds nails poorly its ability to hold screws is only fair. Old growth yellow poplar might make good barn siding or a fence, but that's about it, expect to be repairing due to lack of fastener holding.

Most of the building code rules require the use of GRADED lumber for structural building, so you'd have to hire a professional grader to inspect the lumber or buy graded lumber for load bearing members. If there is no grading requirement in your building codes, you'd still have to check with your insurance company to make sure you can get homeowner's insurance for your house if it does not use graded lumber. I doubt there is any poplar old growth lumber that would be able to be used for structural building.

If you're interested in using it save it for cabinets and furniture and hire out a portable sawmill operator with good insurance with a good metal detector, you don't want the liability on you should they encounter a spike, nail, bullet, chain, in the tree.

Hiring out the transport of equipment of the tree itself to mill a single tree doesn't make economical sense if you don't own the equipment unless it is an exotic or expensive species old growth disease and rot free tree, like black walnut, but it is always a gamble.

Everything I posted earlier was pertaining to "yellow poplar" (tulip poplar or tulip wood) lumber. Although you only called it a Poplar, I assumed yellow poplar was the species given your location and your earlier description of the tree, age, etc. so it still applies.

Debra
Re: Turning a big tree into lumber for an extension?

I'd have to vote for a traveling lumber mill set up to bring it down.

I would also save all the lumber you gain from it to use as trim or visible pieces in the addition.

jamie fox
Re: Turning a big tree into lumber for an extension?

Hi there,
Its very sad to know that a tree 100-150 years old has to be lumbered down, but if it is coming against your plans then I'll suggest you to approach to a lumber mill so that its wood can be made useful for your furniture and supports.

Jamie

richiathton07
Re: Turning a big tree into lumber for an extension?

Most of the building code regulations require the use of wood for building structural classified, you stick to a professional to inspect or load bearing members classified wood graders will hire purchase. If your building codes require a grading, even if you check with your insurance company homeowner's insurance to make sure you can find your house if it does not use wood can be classified. I doubt there is any old growth poplar wood used to build the infrastructure will be able to.

william12dalie
Re: Turning a big tree into lumber for an extension?

It will be good if you use it for extension instead of wasting it or chopping it for firewood. It will be cost effective.

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