Need Arbutus wood advice to make a table top...

by Michelle
(Anacortes WA)

I have an Arbutus trunk that was standing for at least a year after it died. It was cut down several months ago and is 18" diameter X 8 ft long and fairly straight.


Our desire is to make a dining room table out of it and plan to have it milled into boards. Do you have a recommendation for how thick the boards should be. We are in Seattle, moving to Anacortes area, do you know of a mill in this area that would cut this for us?

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Ah sounds simple but it isn't.

First I do not know of a miller but ask about on Anacortes.

You could cut the trunk in half to about 4 feet to make it easier to move but mills like longer wood, so if you can find one first - call around on Anacortes and you will find someone - find out if it is OK to cut.

Thinner (1 inch) boards may warp more than thicker ones, but thicker ones (2" +) may crack.... both may do both! I never dry long boards but even 12-18" are tricky as they dry.

In fact do not be surprised to find your Arbutus tree trunk already cracked inside. You will have to do a lot of planing and glue ups to get a table top, and will need experience woodworking to pull it off.

I know of a couple who did an Arbutus wood floor out of kiln dried wood. Looked incredible but over the years the wood dried even more and warped etc... get advice from local woodworkers.

If it was easy to do, you would find Arbutus/Madrone wood furniture all over.

Let me know how it goes.

Best regards,

Arbutus Ron

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Feb 22, 2017
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Drying Arbutus NEW
by: Donna

My experience in working with arbutus wood is limited. I once dried 39" long arbutus stumps (16" dia)by burying them in sand in tall garbage cans. I simply put about 4" of sand in the bottom of the container then stood a stump on the sand and added more sand all around and on top of the stump.One stump per container. This slows down the drying process.

After a few days I added more sand to ensure the arbutus was under 4 to 6 inches of dry sand. I stood the cans (with lids put on) outside in the shade and made sure they were always dry.

We live on the Sunshine Coast of BC so the only times I removed the lids of the garbage pails was during hot dry spells in the summer time. After a couple of years, the dry sand no longer showed signs of absorbing moisture so I removed the wood from their containers. Talk about hard wood.

It was then I chain-sawed them length-wise into 2 1/2 inch slabs, leaving the live edges. I immediately clamped them down using steel that was L shaped and welded in the form of an X so the wood did not warp. Then stacked them in our basement over winter. Then I slowly brought them upstairs into a much hotter environment.

For a couple of tables I used 3 slabs across, trimming them to match up but leaving the live edge on the outside. Sanded & sanded some more. Oiled one table and used satin polyeurothaned the other. Use them on the deck; no cracks, no warps.

Oct 20, 2015
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