Sunday, February 1, 2009

Cutting Elm Brace Blanks

The PCEI Nature Center lost an Elm tree to Dutch Elm Disease back in late 2007. The city of Moscow asked PCEI to fell the tree and remove the bark in order to kill the Dutch elm beetle larvae and avoid infecting other Elm trees in the city. An AmeriCorps Watersheds technician, Isaak Strout, felled the tree.

In early January, 2008, Isaak and I milled the Elm log using a Sperber chainsaw mill on loan from Nils Peterson, a fellow timber framer. We milled the small log into three 10-foot long slabs. I moved these slabs to my shop to air dry for a year.

We are using these PCEI Elm slabs for the PCEI Artist Studio! We'll use them for the 3x8 knee braces in the frame.

This weekend, we cut out brace blanks from the rough slabs. The first step was to use a chalk line to mark our 8" wide blank:

Next, we used a 10 1/4" circular saw to cut out the blanks by following the chalk lines.

After each 10' rectangular blank is cut, we cut each in half. Each slab produced two 5' long brace blanks. We used a large beam planer and a large thickness planer to smooth out the blanks:

The final result of this effort was four excellent Elm brace blanks, all coming from a tree that grew for many years at the site of the PCEI Nature Center. When cut, sanded, and finished, these braces will be gorgeous:

I think we were all saddened by the death of this Elm tree, but happy that the tree will live on in the PCEI Artist Studio.

These braces have an interesting story behind them and they bestow a deeper sense of connection between the new Artist Studio and the PCEI Nature Center.

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