Almond wood processing

December 4, 2020

Ans needed stands for her glass Christmas trees. I checked the firewood stack near the tower and found some pieces of almond wood, which were not yet split. I recognized this wood as I had taken it from the side of the vineyard in Algaida, where I had a paid job to place 200 posts of metal in the ground. There was some wood on the side and I asked the owner of the vineyard if I could take it, as this year we are a bit short on firewood. That was ok and so I took all of it.

With a chainsaw I sliced off a pieces of around 5 cm, then processed it through the planer a few times, sanded it, drilled a hole in it for the glass Christmas tree and created a round hole behind it for a tee light. The wood proved to be beautiful, reddish in color (on the outside the young wood is much lighter) and beautiful lines of the year rings. The lighter young wood is still very soft, but the darker red wood is very hard.

Nearby an old shack is being transformed into a real house and Ans noticed that they had taken out all almond trees in the surrounding land. I contacted the owner of the house and asked if I could get a few trees. "How much do you want?", he asked me. I was not really prepared on giving a number, but I answered that 5 trees would be fantastic. That was no problem, I could pick the 5 trees of my desire. Bernard - the owner of the house and new neighbor in fact - was very friendly and it felt like the trees were a kind of welcoming gift as being a close neighbor of him. One tree was excepted from my choice of trees, which was the thickest tree. He told me that he intended to make a nice rustic table of it. The next day, when I picked up the trees I offered him to saw this tree for him in slices of 10 cm thick and he accepted this.

So the next day Wouter - the Dutch volunteer I have referred to before - and I went to the neighbor to collect the trees. We went there with our Italian utility vehicle (brand Grillo), a kind of a small tractor with a loading space at the back. A very useful and handy machine which we use daily. Our idea was to saw off the branches from the trunks and put it in the Grillo. Quickly it was clear that this was not possible as the trunks weigh between an estimated 200 and 400 kg each ! So I rolled in the Wacker Neuson excavator. It took me over half an hour to drive the machine with the steel tracks to the house, which is around 600 meter. With the excavator we could lift the trunks easy and quick on the Grillo, but no more than one trunk per ride, so we drove to and fro our place.

We unloaded the trunks with one of the loader, the red Manitou and dumped it in front of the coal storage building. The saw mill was disassembled last year, so we had to setup the three pieces of rail nicely level in the first room of the coal storage building and finally place the actual saw mill on it. We cleaned and greased it, checked the tension of the saw blade and placed the biggest trunk on the rail and did a test run by slicing off the top piece of the trunk. It all worked like it should, although the saw mill did not run really smoothly over the rail due to saw dust deposit on the rail and ball bearing wheels on both sides of this rail. The tree is freshly cut and wet, but I think the real trouble maker is the oily sap of the tree. The saw dust gets pressed down the weight of the saw mill so hard, that you have to use a sharp knife to remove the pitch from it. After slicing just 1 useful board of the trunk of 10 cm, I thought the saw blade teeth were blunt and replaced it for a new saw blade. But there was no difference, it was almost impossible to push the saw mill over the rail. Again I had to remove the pitch. I have not found a way to prevent this from happening.

The trunk has now been milled in 4 usable pieces; from each piece you can make a nice table. But not right away, it first needs to dry for at least a year. I need quite some space for all 6 trunks and we had decided to clear the area in front of the coal storage building, which is now being used to store building materials and tools. This is still in progress and we have been 2 times to Inca to sell a scrap metal - using the VW Transporter. So next week I will be preparing this area and maybe I will even make a enclosed area outside using plastic and some building stamps and roof sheets. I don't know, I am not decided on this yet, but having to wait a year before I can really work with the wood and make something out of it is hard to accept.

Some other short notices...
  • Ans is continuing daily with experimenting with her glass and almost daily she does a run in the kiln. It's clear that if you stop posting on social media with her work that the responses stop almost immediately. But on the other hand it's really silly to post something with no value. We do not yet have a website for Ans her work, but maybe it's not needed and solely use Instagram and some Facebook groups.
  • Wouter is still volunteering here and he seems to like it.
  • I was out of the running for a week due to some back problems, but it's ok again.
  • Next week we will be chipping a lot of branches and also help the neighbor to chip his pruning material
Have a great weekend and stay healthy !!!