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Almond tree wood

Jellyrug's picture

Has anyone ever made anything from Almond tree wood?


I have done a lot of searching but get no information.


On the way to work I drive through miles of Almond orchards and in one very old orchard the trees are falling over and are being cut out. I picked up a couple of great logs.


Some friends helped today with a chain saw and this is hard to believe, But I will be getting a couple of 12" wide boards around 50" long out of the one log. The wood is beautiful.


I'm in the process of microwaving a piece I have just turned green and will post when I'm done.


This wood will be an interesting experience.


Willie

10fingers's picture

(post #78142, reply #1 of 9)

Hello Jellyrug,


My advice to you is to get all the free wood you can.  If you dry it and have more than you can use, trade it to someone else.  If someone gives me a tree, I make a bandsaw box from it and give it to them.  The fruitwood I have delt with (apricot, pear, and apple) had about 50% waste.  It twisted up when drying.  Try cutting the wood to a little thicker than you want and sticker it.  The scraps and wood too twisted may add flavor to items cooked on the grill.  Green apricot and apple give fish a great flavor.

jonsherryl's picture

(post #78142, reply #2 of 9)

Willie, the commercial almond is really a variety of peach and belongs to the Rose family (Rosaceae) along with many other fruit trees, like cherry, plum, apple and pear. These woods are collectively referred to as "fruitwoods" and they're used in cabinetry, but more so in Europe than here in America.


I think the insights Chuck has offered are right on the Mark. Wood harvested from orchard cuttings tends to be difficult to season, because the way these trees are pruned to maximize fruit production tends to cause them to produce a lot of abnormal wood tissue (reaction wood) which isn't very stable. You have to be sure to seal the end grain as soon after harvesting as possible and also make sure the drying pile is well weighted down to minimize cupping and twisting as the wood dries.


I've never used almond in a project, but the samples I've seen had the appearance of a sort of slightly coarser textured cherry. In other words, the wood had a warm, reddish brown hue, as opposed to the blonder woods in this family, like apple and pear.


I think it's certainly worth experimenting with and after you've had the chance to work with it, please do post your evaluation.

wop's picture

(post #78142, reply #3 of 9)

   Just as information, I use a good bit of pear here and there are generally two colors one is principally blond and the other is more pinkish brown sort of on the lines of the steamed beech color.The plum at times you find some wild purplish and orange tones.


                                                                                   Philip

Biscardi's picture

(post #78142, reply #4 of 9)

Jon,


 


Could you speak to the issue of pesticides in fruitwoods. Is there any reason to be anxious about milling it and breathing the dust. I know I have to bathe my trees in spray just to keep them alive.


Frank

jonsherryl's picture

(post #78142, reply #5 of 9)

Frank, having grown up in Michigan, I've used orchard fruitwoods, including apple and cherry, since I was in my teens. I've experienced no ill effects...but about 10 years ago I wrote an article for Fine WoodWorking on orchard woods and was absolutely amazed by the number of readers who wrote in with horror stories about respiratory problems and skin rashes...which they attributed to having worked with wood salvaged from orchards.


I suspect some people are highly sensitive to even trace amounts of pesticides and/or the fungi that often infect fruit trees when they are pruned. The pesticides now being used tend to bio degrade much quicker than those used years ago...so, I don't think pesticides are a serious problem anymore. However, the molds that cause fruitwood to develop beautiful spalted figure are just as dangerous as they always have been. They don't bother everybody, but if you are one of the unlucky few, I think it's good advice to stay away from orchard woods.

Jellyrug's picture

(post #78142, reply #8 of 9)

Jon,


There you go, first project was turning a simple green wood bowl, from one of the smaller log pieces.


Nuked it quite a few times in the microwave, and got it totally dry, with very little twisting and almost no checking.


Willie

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jonsherryl's picture

(post #78142, reply #9 of 9)

Beautiful work, Willie! I've also done a little microwave drying when the project was small enough for that technique. It's amazing what you can do when you get the wood hot enough that it's actually plastic. It becomes almost as formable as clay. Because microwaves don't dehydate the wood as harshly as do conventional ovens, the process is actually very much like steam bending.

WOODBORER's picture

(post #78142, reply #6 of 9)

You must live in CA since you have access to almond trees. I live in Tehama Co and grow almonds and do some woodworking. 3 years ago I cut up some of the biggest logs I could salvage which were up to 15 "by 48".  It all twisted and cupped pretty bad. I kept it in a barn all the time when drying and weighted it down considerably. I used it for vennering some drawer fronts for my new shop and they look great- I'll try to post a pic later. a year ago I cut up some more and tried 1/4 and rift sawing it in an attemp to minimize the twisting, but haven't dug into it yet to see if its any better. There are considerable small knots imbedded and some internal checking ,but I think it adds to the beauty of the wood--easy to say since when you grow ,harvest and mill your own product it has to be beautiful!! At any rate, I believe it makes sense to use it for venner. If you do live near me ,come take a look. 530-384-2788

Jellyrug's picture

(post #78142, reply #7 of 9)

Bee,


Yep, you got the California part right. I run a big food factory here in Firebaugh and commute from Fresno/Clovis. A couple of miles from work, there is a big and old Almond orchard, which I can see yielding more logs than Almonds in the near future.


Sad to hear about the twisting as I was planning how to cut boards from a 300lb log, on my 19 inch bandsaw this week end, after shaping it somewhat square with a chain saw on Saturday. Perhaps it would be better suited to green wood turning blocks?


I turned one greenwood piece, which came out real nice due to the colors and grain and will post a pic as soon as I have sprayed it with some Lacquer. The twisting wasn't too bad, but it was continuously nuked in the microwave.


Thanks for the good information.


Willie J. Martins