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Carving wood from fresh cut Birch Tree

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  • Carving wood from fresh cut Birch Tree

    We have two large birch trees in the back garden, and they are getting far too tall.
    I am planning to cut some of the top branches when weather gets dry.
    Then will have some chunk of birch branches and twigs.

    Just wondering how birch green wood is like to carve.
    Anything to watch out for? Thanks.

  • #2
    Neat. What are you hoping for? 2" and bigger?

    I've carved several dishes from seasoned dry birch. I've carved 70 spoons and 30 forks from birch. It's stiff but it's a dream wood = so smooth and even.
    Fresh, it will carve even more easily. It rots quickly due to the high sugar content of the sap ( birch syrup, etc) so don't leave it standing around
    unless you fancy carving spalted wood.
    Here, out First Nations carve spalted birch for the water ladles which are used in sweat lodge ceremonies.

    See if I can find and add pictures.

    Picture 018.jpgPicture 039.jpgBirchB.jpg.jpg
    Brian T


    • #3
      Great carvings.

      So birch green wood is actually quite good wood to carve. That's great. We have birch trees coming out everywhere in the garden. And the 2 old ones getting now far too tall, so I am gong to fell them from about 70% of its current height. They will present me with huge amount of twigs and branches yes about from 2 inches diametre thickest because they are from the top of the trees.

      I know what you mean by easy rot of Birch. I had massive birch stump sat out in the back garden for a year, and now it became like honeycomb.
      Last edited by kiri; 09-19-2018, 09:10 AM.


      • #4
        Birch? For sure! I'm thinking ladles for water/sugar/flour/etc. I've seen just the smallest ones for salt.
        Carve them as measures = teaspoon, tablespoon.
        This will not be smooth and soft like basswood. It's birch ( think canoe parts, pack frames, snow shoe frames.)

        In the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology, there are endless cabinets of drawers filling with amazing artifacts.
        In one drawer is a set of 6 wooden teaspoons, all the same general size and shape. Really little teaspoon size.
        Each handle is an exquisite little animal! I'm guessing alder but detail that even birch would hold.
        Brian T


        • #5
          So carving birches are more suitable for bowls and spoons?

          Could they be carved for wood spirits and statues as well?

          Yesterday, I cut the trees, and the cut trunks with lots of leaves are lying on the ground. It was hard work cutting them. I just used long handled pruning saw from wolf garten. The saw worked fine, but the weight of the trunk from the upper part of the tree from the cutting point were jamming the saw blade making hard to move.

          Now I need to go and clear them. Tiny branches and leaves to compost bin, and the thicker branches and wood will be cut to carveable pieces.
          Time to use my machete and bushcraft knives.
          Last edited by kiri; 09-25-2018, 06:44 PM.


          • #6
            At one point, I felt a bit danger of falling tree on me, so went back in, and got my safety helmet on. I wasn't sure which direction the cut trunk will fall. But fortunately, they fell to side of me.
            Very hard work. I was on the ladder for one hour each trees.
            Last edited by kiri; 09-25-2018, 12:27 PM.


            • #7
              Can you allow the leaves and twigs to dry and then burn them?
              The woody twigs will really never compost very well, like large vegetable stems.

              So far, sounds good. Next step is to paint the cut ends with glue or old house paint.
              Anything to slow down the rate of water loss from the cut wood.

              Peel the bark off one and carve some fresh wood to learn the texture.
              Brian T


              • #8
                Today, my muscles was sore everywhere from sawing 2 tress for 2 hours on the ladder, and was feeling tired. So haven't done anything outside. It was pouring with rain and windy too.

                Yes, I will pile the leaves and twigs on the corner of the garden for a while until good weather. It will block some holes in the hedges some cats coming into the garden for their toileting.

                I will be then cutting the woods into carveable size, and debark them, and painting on each end of the trunks.

                Will start carving some wood spirit, buddah, spoons and bowls.

                I would love to carve Nativity set for Xmas too, but perhaps my carving skill is still far away for big projects like that.


                • #9
                  kiri, that's very good news. The logs and wood are a lot of work to get ready for a winter of carving.
                  Can you tell us where you live?

                  I live in the mountains at 53N in British Columbia.
                  Brian T


                  • #10
                    Exactly what type of birch? Curious.
                    Living among knives and fire.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Robson Valley View Post
                      kiri, that's very good news. The logs and wood are a lot of work to get ready for a winter of carving.
                      Can you tell us where you live?

                      I live in the mountains at 53N in British Columbia.
                      Hi Robson

                      We are in Scotland, near Edinburgh.

                      I went out this afternoon, and moved some tree bits. I took Fiskars brush hook with me, and cleaned up some branches. Also a pruning saw did the cutting job on the heavy truck fell and lying on the ground.

                      Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 20.31.36.pngScreen Shot 2018-09-27 at 20.31.13.png


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by woodburner807 View Post
                        Exactly what type of birch? Curious.
                        I am not sure what birch it is exactly. Maybe above photos could give some clue?


                        • #13
                          More photos from video I will upload it to youtube soon.

                          Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 23.46.42.pngScreen Shot 2018-09-27 at 23.47.57.pngScreen Shot 2018-09-27 at 23.47.16.png
                          Attached Files


                          • #14
                            Going by global distribution of species, I think you have Betula pendula = the European White Birch.
                            After you top it, we would drop the whole trunk and buck it up into pieces on the ground.
                            100 - 200 cm pieces would be fine material for a cane or a hiking stick with all the carvings that you can think of!
                            Work it green and wet and shave it down to appropriate sizes.
                            You will have some fun carving that wood fresh.

                            One big difference with our B. papyrifera is the working quality of the bark for bushcraft.
                            Splitting into layers then bending and folding can be done but ours is very easily formed.
                            Brian T


                            • #15
                              i am ashamed to admit i have forgotten the ladys name, she had written an article on spoon carving, for chapel hill carving magazine. i will try to find it. she was at the big woodcarving show in stevens point wisconsin this year and also gave a demonstration class on spoon carving. main point being, she says she cuts her wood green while it still has sap in it. then keeps the sawed out spoon blanks in a pail of water til carving them, if its too long til carving them she will sandwich bag them and put them wet into the freezer til its time to carve.

                              photos at........