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Turning trees into a simple wood tray

June 20, 2015

Last year my mother-in-law wanted a couple of trees removed from her back yard. The largest was a holly tree that had overgrown it's limited area. The second was a small plum tree that made a mess of the yard and wasn't looking very healthy. With the help of my brother-in-law, we took down the large holly tree. I came back a couple weeks later and cut down the plum tree.

Trying Something New

I have always wanted to try making my own lumber from trees, and it seemed like a waste just to burn the wood from these trees. So, I kept a few of the larger chunks and cut them into boards with my bandsaw. Unfortunately, the plum tree was rotten inside and mostly infested with bugs. But I still managed to save a few boards from the bit that was left.

Drying the Lumber

I stickered the fresh cut boards in my shed and let them air dry about eight months. The plum boards dried nicely, but the holly boards warped and twisted badly. From what I've read this is fairly common with holly, but now I had to figure out what to do with a bunch of warped lumber. Since the wood came from my mother-in-laws trees, I figured I would make something for her. I only had about four plum boards that were usable, so the idea for a small tray kind of evolved from that. It took a lot of work to salvage usable material out of the warped holly boards, but I was able to cut small strips and glue them into a panel. I didn't do any preplanning for this project, the size and shape just evolved from the lumber I was able to save.

The Gift

This was a simple project, for sure, but it was a fun learning experiment. It was my first time to turn a tree into a usable project, and to work with a bit more exotic wood than I can get from the home centers. We gave the tray to her filled with snacks, but she now uses it as a place to store her incoming mail. I look forward to trying this again in the future.