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We just had our huge black oak tree cut down because it was inches from our roofline. Ever since we first bought our house, we had planned on turning it into our dining room table. Being new to woodworking, I wasn't familiar with wind shake (also called ring shake) and just thought that the waviness in the rings would give the slabs more character. Well I had a mutual friend who owns a portable sawmill come out to look at the logs and he gave me the bad news about the wind shake and that the lumber is probably not worth milling.

Before just cutting all the wood I have into discs and making epoxy or resin supported live edge slabs (my idea of what to do with it short of firewood), what do you all think could be done with this log? Do you think it's worth trying to mill and see what I end up with after it dries or is that route a lost cause?

I also have shorter ~3 foot sections, most of them also show signs of separating at the rings.

Here's the album of the 12 footer: https://imgur.com/a/93MhK

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I've not heard the term, although I've seen the results of this problem earlier in my years of cutting firewood. It was welcome then, but that's because the end result is very weak wood.

According to Woodworking Network, wind shake, aka ring shake is bacterial in nature and creates weak areas in the tree rings. It's a separation that runs parallel to the rings, creating sheared segments throughout a substantial portion of the tree. The linked answer also suggests that the bacteria leave behind organic compounds similar to butter which will later (or sooner) create an unpleasant odor.

Looking at the photos, I would think that you'd not have to wait long after test milling a log. The weakened portions would shear off during the milling or shortly after.

If the sheared portions would still have value to you, the risk would be lower, but there is still the risk of turning the tree into sawdust and wood scrap if the pieces are unworkable. The planks created by the mill would have to be carefully inspected to ensure strength. If a cut intersects a ring shake location, it would be easily snapped.

  • Thanks for the information. As far as the smell, yes that was apparent right off the bat. – Paul Masek Mar 22 '18 at 15:30
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What length pieces is it cut to already? I’m not very experienced with this fault, but ... if the wood is nice anyway, and milling is not expensive, I would mill 8’ to 10’ sections into smaller dimension lumber but expect a lot of loss. Orientation during milling is important to optimize the product. In the end you may do best with a lot of selection and laminating portions to rough size.

As always, trees that grow near structures are more likely to have nails or other embedments in the lower portions that may damage milling equipment.

  • One large 12' section and the other trunk sections are mostly ~3ft sections. Thanks for the advice! – Paul Masek Mar 22 '18 at 15:30

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