I had a big oak tree cut down. Now what?


New User
Hello all, I have a bit of a situation here and a friend of mine said this maybe the place with the right people to help with options or suggestions.

On April 1st I got a 3'-3'4" in diameter oak tree cut down in my Durham backyard.
I have 5 very large pieces of oak tree trunk left.
I have done my best to include pictures from several angles and number the pieces to match up with the dimensions in the list below. I also included 2 pictures for size reference before it was cut down.
1. 3' - Diameter by 12' long.IMG_20190204_143043-02.jpgIMG_20190401_134651-02.jpgIMG_20190415_120528-2.jpgIMG_20190415_120533-02.jpgIMG_20190415_120543-02.jpgIMG_20190415_141730-02.jpgIMG_20190415_141738-02.jpgIMG_20190415_144337-02.jpgIMG_20190415_144350-02.jpgMVIMG_20190415_114646-02.jpgMVIMG_20190415_114708-02.jpgMVIMG_20190415_114716-02.jpgMVIMG_20190415_120143-02.jpgMVIMG_20190415_120149-02.jpgIMG_20190204_143043-02.jpg
2. 3' - Diameter by ~12' long.
3. 3'2" Diameter by ~24' long.
4. 3' by 19" Wide by ~24' long.
5. 3' by 19" Wide by 5'7" long.

Would it be worth it and is it feasible to make slabs out of this material?
If so, is it possible to do on site or would they need to taken away to a facility?
If the consensus ends up being not usable, which would be a bummer, I would need suggestions on what to do with it.

I am knew to this forum and I am glad my friend recommended it. I have already gotten lost in the posts.
Lots of great information and seems like a great supportive community.

If further clarification is needed, please let me know.



That is a big tree! I had a very similar one fall on my then-fiance's house in Durham :( And another one fell on her neighbor's house!

It would be a shame to use these logs for firewood, but you can for sure get rid of them that way if they can't be milled.

Bill Clemmons

Corporate Member
Your tree appears to be White Oak, which I personally consider far more desirable than Red Oak. And some of those logs appear suitable for slabs. Unless you have the heavy equipment to load and transport them, I would suggest finding a sawyer w/ a portable sawmill. One of the issues I think you'll face is that these are "yard trees". That means there is a high probability of nails or other metal embedded in them, especially in the first 8-10'.


Corporate Member
Looking at the few leaves I'm leaning to the WO or chinquapin oak variety, but that's just a guestimation. Hate to see it go to firewood. How easy will it be for the sawmill to get to it? Move logs moved around, etc... are some of the Q's.


Corporate Member
You may want to consider splitting one or two of the shorter clear straight logs into quarters or sixths that can be rived into large posts for use as table/roubo bench legs, etc. CrealBilly once posted a diagram that showed how to get the grain orientation for flat sawn, rift sawn, etc but also included showing a post orientation (basically, corner to corner was lined up with a line that went from heart to bark) but I can't find it in the gallery.

If you want the sides of the post to all have the same grain orientation, the growth rings will run corner to corner, but that is not necessary to get a good sturdy post.

For splitting white oak logs, you will need some good steel wedges and make sure you eat your wheaties for breakfast.


Senior User
Splitting is certainly one way to go, but if you're after quartersawn material you need a sawyer.

Few things to consider:

1. Finding a sawyer who will saw it. Most will not saw a tree that may have metal in it.
2. Transport. Those logs are HEAVY!
3. If you're keeping the lumber, you have to build a system to store it.

I would talk to Scott at Quartersawnoak over in New Hill.


Corporate Member
I'm the naysayer to trying to saw that tree for usable lumber and I think that Scott Smith will agree. The tree is a type of white oak from the bark pictures but it's largely dead or was dying before it was cut down.

Usually the only section of the tree trunk that is used for sawing is up to the point where the first major branch occurs. Beyond that the rest of the tree has a lot of large knots and reaction/stress wood that's usually discarded (start at pic 2 or 3). The lower section of the trunk is largely dead and rotting in the center (pic 1).

10 / 15


New User
This is great info, and it is much appreciated.

To Steve's point of accessibility. I meant to put that info in the original post but forgot. I have included some new pictures.
The green shed that is in the pictures is in bad shape from being under the tree for years.
The plan is to tear it down. I was not planning to do it so soon but if it is what it takes to get this material out then consider it done. I have also been cleaning up the smaller debris and vines.

Mark thanks for the suggestions. Right now that seems like an almost herculean feet...lol But something to consider. It may take some good old elbow grease to get this task done and I have not ruled this out.

As to DrBob and Jeff's comments. If the wood salvageable, I would need a sawyer. I was worried about the condition of the tree myself.
Bill mentioned it does look like there was some metal in the first few feet of it. That is why I included the end photo of log 1.

I will reach out to Scott, my internet search lead me to Whispering Pines Farm website. I will ask his opinion of the wood and see if it is even a viable option.

Thanks again everyone for your feedback. You have been helpful and I will be sure to update the post when I have more information or huge muscles from the lumberjack life I may have to lead :)




Corporate Member
I'm curious again. Why did you have the tree taken down to begin with?

Scott Smith (scsmith42) at Whispering Pines Farm.

Scott's equipment is not mobile so you'd have to load the logs on a trailer and take them to him in New Hill. Send him the pictures and ask his opinion first. I still think that the tree is mostly dead, i.e., not fresh green wood in its prime of life. The tree looks like the pieces are mostly behind the shed in the gnarly mix of vines.
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New User
Thanks again, and after looking into it a bit agree that it is probably not the right material for slabs. I will do a final check with Scott and then move to plan B. Yes, the tree is in some vines. I am removing those and cleaning up the area, so they are accessible. If Scott confirms what you suspect, then I may look at hiring another tree service to come in and cut the tree up into much smaller manageable pieces. Then perhaps start a new workout routine :)

Your question around why the tree was cut down, is because of what you observed, it was mostly dead. I asked a couple different tree services and they all said that there was nothing that could be saved and it and had to come down. I want to put up a new shed, since the existing one has been badly damaged by the dead limbs falling from the tree. I also had to replace the Windshield in my truck because of a branch that fell. I think you are being polite and really the question is why these pieces were left behind. :) Unfortunately, the tree service that was hired made a deal with the neighbor in the back to leave the tree there. Seeing how it’s all over grown and they do not use the space. Since then the neighbor has changed their mind and I am trying to figure out a way to deal with it. Could let them duke it out but trying to be a good citizen here.


Corporate Member
"Unfortunately, the tree service that was hired made a deal with the neighbor in the back to leave the tree there. Seeing how it’s all over grown and they do not use the space. Since then the neighbor has changed their mind"

Who hired the tree service and who made the deal to leave it where it is? If the tree was on your property to begin with the neighbor has no say about what to do with it but they could have asked you to leave it and they'd clean it up for their use. Is it now on the neighbor's property?


New User
I hired the tree service. The tree service and the neighbor lady made the deal without me present. The tree was on my property. The tree is now mostly on the neighbors property. I say mostly because "log 1" maybe on the line and "log 4" end is over the property line. Its not a good situation and I am just trying to do what I can to move past it. Trying not to make the situation worse. If slabs are not an option then, the tree service that did the work is first on my list to call. I did not started there because I wanted to figure out what options I have.

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