Sinker log cut open.

Sinker Log

A neighbour retrieved a log that had sunken in a local lake, curious to see what it was. We were too!

The 12ft log showed up on the back of a pick up truck and with some grunt work, the 12 inch diameter log made it to the ground with a thud. There it sat for 5 or so weeks until we could get a spot in the schedule for it to be milled. When we were ready, the first order of business was to weigh the log… you know… because of curiosity. It tipped the scale at 476 lbs.

Signs of bird's eye.
Tell tale signs of stress in the growth cycle. Bird’s eye markings.

Ever hear of bird’s eye maple? The markings shown above look like a bird’s eye. Use your imagination if you have to 🙂 During the seasonal growing cycle of a tree, sometimes the tree will sense poor growing conditions (stress). For example, a nearby tree is blown over by the wind and the base of the tree is uprooted. That action may also pull up roots nearby from other trees thus causing stress to the nearby trees. The tree’s response to that can sometimes make it start to grow new sprouts of limbs especially along the trunk of the tree (sprout example below).

If growing conditions improve, the tree stops sending energy to the sprouts and eventually die off. What remains are the small knots, we call bird’s eye. Bird’s eye can produce some beautiful grain when present in sufficient quantity and when the boards are cut through the log a specific way.

Back to sawing this log…

Sawing a sinker log.
Sawing a sinker log.

Two things I noticed right away. The dust coming off the log was really dry and the push action of sawing through the log was more difficult than I expected for a small log. Difficult in the sense that it took more effort to push. That is usually an indication of a dull blade but this blade was not dull. By the time I was done sawing though it was dull and required a re-sharpening.

Nice dark heartwood, indicating it is a maple log.
Nice dark heartwood, indicating it is a maple log.

It didn’t take long to realize that this was a maple log. All the characteristics of a maple log were present. Light sapwood, dark heartwood, bird’s eye and the aroma. The boards I sliced were typical of a maple log. What was not typical was the moisture content. I put a moisture meter to the boards coming off and the readings were average 26%. Very surprising given the log was at the bottom of a lake for who knows how long.

I cut most of the at the 1 inch mark on the saw, producing a 7/8 inch thickness. Then stacked and stickered them for the owner to pick up later. Two of the boards I sliced 1/2 inch thick and placed them in the shipping container. They were longer than the container was tall so I placed them on their side. I’ve done that hundreds of times before with positive results (boards did not warp). These two boards though… bananas… as you can see below. The wood was highly reactive, twisting out of shape. Maybe if cut up into smaller sections I could find a purpose for them. Time will tell whether they will be usable or not.

Highly reactive maple boards.
Highly reactive maple boards.

Check out the video below we made while sawing the log. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to make them below our on video channel.

A Newfoundland born Canadian with a life long interest in woodworking, baking and anything else that peaks my curiosity.

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