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Is it possible to carve into live trees?

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  • Is it possible to carve into live trees?

    I don't know anything about this topic and couldn't find anything in the search. Oh, what I mean is, can you carve into them and not kill them?

  • #2
    Re: Is it possible to carve into live trees?

    You can but you will weaken them.

    Trees transport nutrients in the cambium layer located just under the bark. Each cut into that transport system eliminates a portion of the trees ability to transport water to the leaves and sugars from the leaves to the roots.

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    • #3
      Re: Is it possible to carve into live trees?

      Thank you for the feedback. Just what i was looking for. Anyone have experience with carving into a tree?

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      • #4
        Re: Is it possible to carve into live trees?

        Yes ,

        I have done quite a few of them and have not lost one yet. Knock wood. The simple rules Never remove more 1/3 of the tree bark. This is your work area.

        Plan your work and do it as quickly as possible, I have a 3 day limit I use, to reduce as much shock as possible. Of course a day may be 14 hours each.

        Seal the carved area when the carving is finished. A good sealer includes an insectcide and then reseal every 2 years.

        Check Colin's chainsaw carvings he does it all the time and the carvings grow with the tree.

        Ash

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        • #5
          Re: Is it possible to carve into live trees?

          the carvings grow with the tree? -please explain

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          • #6
            Re: Is it possible to carve into live trees?

            The tree will "grow" INTO the carving eventually, if infection or insects do not invade the wound. Trees grow in two directions, up from the tips of brances and out by adding new cambrium layers and bark. Thus the carving will NOT "grow" UP as the tree ages.

            If the carving was properly protected and does not become infected, the bark will begin to grow over the edges of the carving and eventually (many years down the line) grow over it entirely.

            You can see this if you are fortunate enough to find an aged tree that has had a blaze placed on it by one of the old timber cruisers or a surveyor's "wittness tree". These blazes will be almost completely grown over.

            Al

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            • #7
              Re: Is it possible to carve into live trees?

              Pick your victim wisely. The picture shown was carved in one of my many mulberry trees growing around my bean field fence row. mulberry can take a huge amount of punishment. They engulf wire fencing, cut it down at the stump and they grow two more trunks. Herbicide spray from the field drifts over onto it, no problem. But it is important to NOT strip the bark all the way around the tree. Skirting, is a sure fire way to kill any tree. Some trees are more susceptible to disease than others. I would never carve on a cherry tree or Elm for example, or any thing considered ornamental. I sprayed Thompsons weather seal on it. first shot is fresh carved the other a year later. I was mildly surprised to see that it had checked a bit. More photo's on my blog, titled windspirit.

              If you have a tree in mind , mention what species and maybe one of our experts on here can tell you if it can handle the operation.

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              • #8
                Re: Is it possible to carve into live trees?

                From an experience.... at six years of age a friend and I decided to carve my Grandmothers old old Campor tree... we went all the way down to the shiny layer under the bark.. Needless to say I got my britches tanned and my Dad put melted wax over the place on the tree.. The tree lived and so did I.... it was about a five by six inch spot.. Chalotte

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                • #9
                  Re: Is it possible to carve into live trees?

                  I carve into live trees all the time and have done many of them over the years. I have never lost a tree yet in fact most of them are even healthier than before they were carved. It is true that the bark will eventully grow over the carving that is why it is important to carve into mature tree's. The thing is not to girdle the tree that is interupt the flow of sap from the roots to the leafs. I use a formular of only one third of the tree for the carving. Hope this helps
                  Colin
                  Jim - The Doing is as much fun as the Viewing!
                  Jackson, MS

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                  • #10
                    Re: Is it possible to carve into live trees?

                    I would love to see some pictures of wood spirits done years ago to see how they look after the tree has grown into it some.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Is it possible to carve into live trees?

                      1/3 formula? width, depth, height?

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                      • #12
                        Apple Tree stump

                        Hi,

                        I have a question that kinda falls into this realm too. Hope you don't mind me posting it here...

                        My Dad cut down an old apple tree in his back yard and left a few feet of the trunk. I want to carve it, but I'm not sure if I need to wait a while or if it can be done right away? Any suggestions?

                        I also read online that it's a good idea to cut a V in the back side of the trunk to keep the front of the sculpture from cracking as it dries... any thoughts on that?

                        Thanks,

                        Deb.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Is it possible to carve into live trees?

                          Tree anatomy
                          1. Water and mineral nutrients coming up from the root system are moving upward in the most recent 10-20 years of wood cells in the tree trunk. The destination, for the most part, is the part of crown directly above any place on the trunk. The rest of the trunk wood cells are full of water but it just sits there.
                          2. The sugars from photosynthesis, and other goodies, are moved out of the leaves to destinations like flowers, fruits and seeds. Some also travels down the trunk in the inner layer of the bark, the living secondary phloem, the destination being the roots. Cutting through all the bark to the wood effectively starves a part of the root system below the removed piece of bark
                          3. The vascular cambium is the slippery living layer between the bark and the wood. Cell division here makes both wood (secondary xylem) and "bark", (secondary phloem) in a sort of alternate fashion.
                          4. True, there is some lateral, left/right movement possible of both the water flow up and the nutrition flow down. As pointed out above, I would not risk more than 1/3 of the circumference and I would go to great lengths to keep out bacteria, fungus and virus..
                          = =
                          Carving stump logs. Totem pole style, it is convention to cut 1/4 to 1/3 of the "ugly" side out to the core. This relieves some (not all) of the drying stress. For cosmetic reasons, you might conside a single vertical chainsaw cut to the center. In WRC, the cut was/is usually made on the south side of the log as there are more branches/knots there than on the north facing side of the log.
                          Brian T

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                          • #14
                            Re: Is it possible to carve into live trees?

                            I'd keep an eye out for the Lorax; just saying....... Mike
                            Matthew

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                            • #15
                              Re: Is it possible to carve into live trees?

                              Ah Mike. I had to look it up. Makes me feel like my life has been diluted with things of lesser worth for a very long time.
                              I cut no trees. I use wood that nobody wants for anything else. There is a huge quantity of it.
                              The useful cut volume must be stupendous.
                              Brian T

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