300 years of oak down the drain: $1100
March 15, 2011 8:32 AM   Subscribe

We just had two 150-year-old oak trees felled. My landscaper is telling me that we need to pay $1100 to essentially take them to the dump.

We paid to have them cut down. Now the landscaper wants us to pay another $1100 for him to cut them up and haul them away to his lot where they'll sit, because he has to pay to dump them. He says he tried to find someone to take them or buy them or something, but had no luck. I don't believe him a) because he's been shady before and b) it just seems crazy that no one wants nice old-growth hardwood.

I called around to a couple of firewood sellers, but there's so much wood around that it comes to them, and they don't need to go out looking for it.

But I saw this comment on a previous, similar post and I just feel like, I have to be able to do something with this stuff. I don't want to be cheated, and I also don't want to see this amazing wood go to waste. But maybe it's more trouble to people than it's worth, which would be a shame.

I'm on Long Island.
posted by thebazilist to Home & Garden (34 answers total)
Well it's oak so someone may want to take them to burn them.
I might put an ad on Craigslist.
posted by beccaj at 8:36 AM on March 15, 2011

Lumber mills? Local woodworkers? If you just want them to go to a good home, there's no harm in putting a couple of photos on Craigslist (especially ones that show the woodgrain) with an invitation to take them away.
posted by holgate at 8:38 AM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'd put an ad on Craigslist. Just put it in the free stuff and I'm sure someone will come get it.
posted by ACN09 at 8:39 AM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

Depending on how much work you want to do with it, you can always buy a chain saw, cut it into small firewood, and cover it. Let it sit and dry over the summer - come winter, or camping season, you may be more in demand for dry wood.

If nothing else, craigslist or a newspaper add - specify though that "You must haul and cut"
posted by lpcxa0 at 8:41 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

What lengths are the trunk in ? Is it just trunk sections, or trunk sections and all the other detritus (smaller branches, leaves and crap) ? How big are the trunk sections (diameter/radius/circumference) ?

As you saw in earlier thread, and I'll repeat here: the cost to haul away is often the same as the cost to take down.

Firewood is the easy/obvious answer.

Other answers are to look for a miller with a portable sawmill and offer the wood for free. However, most millers don't want suburban wood because there's usually nails and other crap in the wood that will damage the blades. YMMV on finding one in Long Island.
posted by k5.user at 8:42 AM on March 15, 2011

I think you just need to get the word out. My mother-in-law lives in suburban Philly and lost an oak tree in a storm. It made the local paper because it also smashed the back of her house. As soon as her phone service was restored, she was inundated with calls from people offering to remove the tree for free so they could have the wood. Like 10 or 15 calls in two days and a couple of notes left in her mailbox. Of course, her insurance was covering it so she didn't consider anything except having a licensed arborist come and remove it. No doubt that company sold it.

I don't know how you get word out, but I feel confident that there are people who want that wood and will come and get it.

Even if for some reason I'm wrong, I know for a fact that the quoted price is way too much. I'm five miles from Boston and I had a damaged maple cut down and removed (full treatment with dudes in cherrypickers and a crane) for about two thirds of that.

Get the word out. If no one bites (which would surprise me), call a bunch of arborists for estimates. Don't pay that guy.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:44 AM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

Similar recent question - maybe you can contact Lost and see what he eventually did. It includes this comment:
"Important question here, recalling the hilarity from the guys in the pub who were paid to take away a nice big oak trunk. They made their money back twice."
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:45 AM on March 15, 2011

I had a couple of large oak trees taken down in GA. I had no trouble finding people to cut and haul it away in exchange for the wood.
posted by COD at 8:45 AM on March 15, 2011

You want to find furniture manufacturers that specialize in wood veneer and wood reclamation.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:46 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I hate to be a wet blanket, but please don't clog Craigslist with more "come haul away my trash for free" ads. Put it in labor gigs and offer money.
posted by rhizome at 8:55 AM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

Don't believe him! If they're large diameter someone will want them for board feet, to sculpt or to convert into furniture. If you're ever going to redo your kitchen, add built-ins or replace your floors, it could be worth it to you to send them to a lumber mill yourself for curing and cutting. Our house is filled with window seats, cabinets, etc. made from a 42-inch oak that had to come down; they're beautiful and it was a nice way to honor the tree and to keep all of that carbon captured.
posted by carmicha at 9:11 AM on March 15, 2011 [7 favorites]

Yes, to the above. I used to date a woodworker and we would scour the free section for felled hardwoods constantly. Now, often they were too thick to cut into rounds ourselves, but if the wood looked good, we found someone with a good , big, chain saw to help us cut it up.
posted by stormygrey at 9:18 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Carmichas idea sounds great if you have the cash.

Personally, I'd probably go rent a chainsaw and split it up for firewood, but only because I wouldn't be able to afford to have it processed.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:21 AM on March 15, 2011

please don't clog Craigslist with more "come haul away my trash for free" ads.

Old-growth hardwood isn't trash: it's a marketable commodity. It's a bit cheap to try and charge people to do the removal in exchange for the potential value of the wood -- and I do see ads like that -- but if it's furniture grade, someone will find lots more value in it than a curbside washing machine.
posted by holgate at 9:23 AM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

I did this in my very small town about 4 months ago. Via Craigslist I got four offers to cut it up for firewood and haul it away for free (to me) in 24 hours.

The guy who took it certainly worked his butt off - but he was happy to get about 2 cords of wood for free.

Both of us were very happy with the transaction.
posted by dhacker at 9:27 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wood turners are usually looking for free hardwoods. Is there a group in your area? Harry Wicks is pretty well known, too, and he's in Cutchogue.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:38 AM on March 15, 2011

I've had my tree guy sell me firewood that was originally from a tree he cut down on my property so it's not trash and there are definitely people who will cut it up and haul it away. Craigslist (or maybe Freecycle) is the way to go but make sure they agree to take everything. You don't want them cherry-picking all the good stuff and then leaving you with a ton of leaves, brush and sticks. If there is stuff left behind maybe you could rent a wood chipper and make your own mulch?
posted by victoriab at 9:43 AM on March 15, 2011

If you have a Woodcraft store near you and don't want to deal with Craigslist adds (although that's probably the quickest way to get a result) I'm sure the employees there would be happy to help you out.
posted by redsnare at 9:55 AM on March 15, 2011

Yea, firewood! Where on Long Island, my brother may be able to at least grab some of it. I'm serious; MeMail if you don't find someone whom wants to use it as lumber-wood.
posted by kellyblah at 10:20 AM on March 15, 2011

Yeah, totally not trash. I paid like $800 for three cords of hard wood last year. Now it was cut, seasoned and split, but you were near me I would be all over it.
posted by d4nj450n at 10:29 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

If I didn't have to take a ferry to get there, I'd be on my way.
There are going to be a lot of people happy to take huge portions of those trees. I would have recommended looking into before the trees were down, but whatcha gonna do.
posted by mearls at 10:52 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Try calling the Long Island Woodworkers' Club.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:55 AM on March 15, 2011

Take pictures so potential woodcutters know how much wood. Diameter would be a useful measurement. It's not trash on Craigslist, it's free heating fuel for somebody with a truck and a chainsaw. You could also post it to Hearth.com, or I'll post it for you, if you send me info.
posted by theora55 at 12:06 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I suggest you try to ask for a modest ammount for the wood on Craigslist -- $50 or so. Specify in the add that they have to cut it up and haul it out themselves. Give it a week. If no one bites, post it to the free section.
posted by jsturgill at 1:33 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also: dump the landscaper. Life is too short to continue working with shady characters. It will cost you eventually if you keep him.
posted by jsturgill at 1:34 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

When we cut down our two 40 foot pecan trees (RIP), we had a furniture maker take the trunks to make a dining table for our new house. The rest we (easily) gave away to barbecue enthusiasts. Somebody will take the trees. And, even if they wouldn't, $1100 is way way way to pricey.
posted by seventyfour at 1:53 PM on March 15, 2011

Some churches have woodcutter programs which turn downed trees into firewood for people in need. Or to sell so they can use the funds for people in need.
posted by SLC Mom at 3:06 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you lived in Georgia, I'd be over there tomorrow with my pickup truck, splitting maul, and chainsaw. As others have indicated in this thread, oak is VERY valuable for woodworkers (in higher grades) and for fuel. There is absolutely no reason to pay someone to haul away a old hardwood tree that's already on the ground.

Oh, and please don't do business with that landscaper any more. They're trying to screw you, and there are plenty of honest tradesmen out there who would actually appreciate your business.
posted by deadmessenger at 3:21 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

There is such a thing as portable sawmills. My dad used to have one. Put an ad on Craigslist and see-it's really worth the effort.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:25 PM on March 15, 2011

Don't say it's free. Put a nominal price on it, like $50, and say you're open to offers. I'm not sure why, but people seem to value stuff more if it has a price on it and they think they're getting a bargain, but that value seems to disappear once they're getting what is really the ultimate bargain, which is gratis.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:11 PM on March 15, 2011

I'm interested in the answers you get because we have trees go down in the strip of woods behind our house every so often. We had some tree trimmers a few years back say our huge white oak was rare and worth some money. I really wish I knew who'd be interested about this in our area. Anyway I did a search for you and found this.

This guy was taking away or buying trees in 2001 to sell overseas.

Forest for Tomorrow Log & Lumber
9 Tanyard Ln
Huntington, NY 11743

Under services, they said they buy logs. On the home page, they also say they can make it into lumber, flooring or any wood product.
Suburban Mills
16 Railroad Street
Huntington Station, New York 11746
(631) 351-6445

Not sure about these but they came up in a search of "lumber mills Long Island".
Harned Brothers Saw Mill
61 New Highway
Commack, New York 11725
(631) 864-5911

1319 Pulaski Street
Riverhead, New York 11901
(631) 208-0373
posted by stray thoughts at 12:29 AM on March 16, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you everyone!!!

I haven't been happy with this guy for a long time, but unfortunately I'm not the sole Decider on this issue. Hopefully this will be the final nail in his stolen-wood coffin.

I've put a couple of calls into some mills, and emailed them pictures. Meanwhile the landscaper's crew sliced up one of the trees already into like 3-ft long rounds; the other one is still intact.

They are just the trunks -- the leaves and branches and whatever have been cleared. I'd say they range from 4 to 5ft in diameter. They are incredible, the kind of trees that you tear up over when they have to come down (if they even had to come down....grrr).

Now that I have everyone backing me I can stand more firm with him and say that I want to find a home for the trees. I'd love to have a new dining room table. And maybe a big butcher block, although that's usually maple... But I'm getting ahead of myself. I will keep calling and going through the resources everyone's posted, and I'll update.
posted by thebazilist at 8:48 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh and I'm in northern Nassau county (between Oyster Bay and Glen Cove). I don't usually find Long Island's Craigslist to be too happening if I'm not including the rest of the metro area, but maybe I'll come to that later.
posted by thebazilist at 8:50 AM on March 16, 2011

A reputable tree service would have included the cost of the removal with a quote for taking the tree down. That doesn't help you now, but is another mark against the person you hired.

I'm not familiar with your area, but if you live in a town or any populated area then you might have trouble hiring someone who owns a portable saw mill come and mill the tree for you. The mills around here don't like to touch tree from people's yards because there's no way to know whether or not there is any metal embedded in the tree. If you do get someone to mill the tree you might have to sign something to say you'd cover the cost of a replacement blade if it hits a nail in the tree.

That's not to say that you won't find someone who would like the wood and will take it from you. I would agree with others who think there are artists or woodworkers interested in the wood.
posted by achmorrison at 3:14 PM on March 16, 2011

« Older What are some really great music videos?   |   How do I turn off Font Smoothing in Internet... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.