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Scandanavian pine tree preservation technique

 
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I heard about this a few years ago and just saw this video about it.  Does anyone have any experience with this?  Does it work with any species of pine?  Seems like it would be a great option to replace treated wood for posts.

 
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Pine wood that lasts a thousand years!  We need to know more.  Thanks Mike.  Fascinating.
 
Mike Haasl
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I know!?!?!  There are thousands of square miles of pine plantations in my state that are barely worth cutting for pulp.  If they could be turned into rot proof timber in two years, it would be world changing.  

I'm just not sure if the species matters or other factors.  Why didn't this practice spread if it has worked so well?  Hell, even if only 1 in 10 trees turns out rot proof it would be worth it.
 
Mike Haasl
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Now that I know more of the correct words, here's a wikipedia link to Stave Churches and a short article on Ore Pine.
 
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Mike, I've been seeing this technique for a while now too (ads/posts from Northmen in my FB feed) and just saw one recently, maybe last week? I thought "I wonder if anyone over at Permies knows about this, seems like they should..." Ha ha! You beat me to it? or maybe mental telepathy works?

Seriously, there's still time this year to do an experiment.
Maybe even a trial of two or three neighboring trees, one treated this way (this Spring), another freshly felled at the same time as the treated tree (this Winter), and third tree freshly felled in the Summer between.

Then, a project that could expose the wood from the three trees to the same conditions to see what difference it made. Maybe a 3 log bench made from each tree, and sited together to keep the conditions similar. Or some other project, a shed, beehives, whatever...
 
Mike Haasl
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Yes, I think some trials are definitely worth doing.  I don't have the right trees on my property but they sure do at Wheaton Labs.  I'll keep thinking about ways to try this out here...
 
Kenneth Elwell
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Mike Haasl wrote:I know!?!?!  There are thousands of square miles of pine plantations in my state that are barely worth cutting for pulp.  If they could be turned into rot proof timber in two years, it would be world changing.  

I'm just not sure if the species matters or other factors.  Why didn't this practice spread if it has worked so well?  Hell, even if only 1 in 10 trees turns out rot proof it would be worth it.



I'm going to guess that the ongoing and immediate needs for land clearing provided for plenty of timber for building, heating, charcoal, etc... and that selective preparation and cutting was reserved for "special" projects like churches.
 
Greg Martin
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One other thing to investigate is whether there are issues with flammability due to the resins and if so how those were resolved.

For landscape posts or buried in cob walls in a wofati, this would be no worry.  
 
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I think this is fascinating and I would love to try it on a couple of my pines, but I can't help thinking that if this works, why isn't anyone doing it?
 
Mike Haasl
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I know...  So maybe there are some reasons why it's too good to be true.  There's a forestry equipment place near me that sells harvesters and other large equipment.  I bet they could design a machine to clamp onto the tree that climbs up it and scars it quickly.  That way they could "prepare" a pine plantation pretty quickly.
 
Trace Oswald
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Mike Haasl wrote:I know...  So maybe there are some reasons why it's too good to be true.  There's a forestry equipment place near me that sells harvesters and other large equipment.  I bet they could design a machine to clamp onto the tree that climbs up it and scars it quickly.  That way they could "prepare" a pine plantation pretty quickly.


I'm picturing something like a belt sander that rides on rails up the tree and touches down at spots along the way.  
 
Mike Haasl
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Found it!  Here's the machine I was thinking of that could maybe be redesigned to scar trees on purpose:
 
Trace Oswald
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Mike Haasl wrote:Found it!  Here's the machine I was thinking of that could maybe be redesigned to scar trees on purpose:



Maybe you could design that and I could rent it from you...  I think you would just need one blade to dig in deeper on the way up.  I'm not sure bark has to be removed randomly the the video of doing it manually worked.  Maybe one strip up the side would do as well.
 
Mike Haasl
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I could but....  At this point in my life I'd rather give the idea away (along with hundreds of others) in the hopes that someone takes it and runs with it and the world ends up a better place.
 
Kenneth Elwell
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Maybe you could design that and I could rent it from you...  I think you would just need one blade to dig in deeper on the way up.  I'm not sure bark has to be removed randomly the the video of doing it manually worked.  Maybe one strip up the side would do as well.



I think there is a method to the "random debarking" to me it looks quite regular... staggered cuts in both directions (circumference and elevation) which would lead to a uniform "bleeding" of the tree. One long scar is the sort of thing you see where a limb has torn off, or where a car crashed into tree, or a lightning strike, and the trees survive those.

Some combination of the limbing robot, and that chainsaw tool they got for peeling logs on the lab would be the industrial scale power tool way to do it. Although the man in the Northmen video does it quite swiftly with the axe and pole tool.
 
Trace Oswald
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Kenneth Elwell wrote:

I think there is a method to the "random debarking" to me it looks quite regular... staggered cuts in both directions (circumference and elevation) which would lead to a uniform "bleeding" of the tree. One long scar is the sort of thing you see where a limb has torn off, or where a car crashed into tree, or a lightning strike, and the trees survive those.



Understood, but in combination with ringing the tree at the bottom, it will kill the tree.  No tree can survive being ringed.
 
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Ringing is a pretty standard practice for killing trees — especially ones you wish to cut down later.

But remember this most certainly kills the tree. The roots start to die back and rot underground. The tree loses its hold on the ground. Wind and ice more easily pull it over. The branches die with the tree, and pine branches have evolved to pop right off when they die (as a means of fire protection — cutting the fire ladder short on branches no longer receiving sunlight). All that makes for a very scary tree to be around, and especially scary to fell. Nothing like the vibration of a saw to pop one of those branches off 30ft above your soft, squish-prone body.

Cutting down a healthy tree and debarking it will achieve almost identical results. Without the bark, insects and fungus will not be able to attack the tree. If in addition, it's raised a couple inches off the ground, the results will be identical to leaving it dead-standing. Except it'll be on the forest floor, and not hanging precariously a hundred feet above our fragile heads.
 
Mike Haasl
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The point of this process is that after going through this process the pine tree become mostly or fully converted to a resinous fatwood/amber type material in a couple years of standing and dying with bark wounds.  It's not a means to kill a tree to make it easier to fell.  

Honestly when I first heard of this process I wasn't told about the girdling part, just the bark damaging part.  So there may be multiple ways to do it.  Regardless the idea is that the tree adjusts its internal makeup to be extremely rot resistant.

Once put into the ground as a post in my climate, raw pine would rot in a matter of 2 years.  Cedar in 20 years.  Pressure treated in 10-20? years.  This stuff in 200 years.  I hope.  
 
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This makes sense, I’ve been ringing trees to clear, and there is definitely a resin even in the sweetgum that I have felled. Unfortunately it makes it impossible or at least minimally useful for shiitake logs- ask me how I know!

Anyway the ones that are ringed (and I only cut them I’m winter when it’s safe and the ground is frozen) have a nasty black tarry substance where they have a wound. I have not seen that in other trees I have cut without ringing. I asked my uncle who is an arborist and he said the ringing prevents the sap from going to the roots in fall, but the sugars and other components have to go somewhere and concentrate by specific gravity. Then the wounding dehydrates the wood allowing for more sap to run down and repeat the process. I only left them up one year but I missed a few gums and will cut them next winter and see how they look. I might even wound one for grins.

It’s funny because someone mentioned it looks pretty easy- I was thinking I could do about three and my rotator cuff would be spent.
 
Mike Haasl
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And here is what appears to be a website about the practice.  I can't read it

http://www.fetvedensvanner.com/lankar.html
 
Greg Martin
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Mike Haasl wrote: I can't read it


sure you can Mike! :)
 
Mike Haasl
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You whipper snappers know all the tricks!
 
Mike Haasl
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I may have this totally wrong but to me, it looks like their primary method is to cut two strips up the tree.  Then widen the strips each year.  Eventually cut it down and the barked part, through the core, to the opposite barked side, it now resinous.  The unbarked sides are "normal" and will rot.  So from an 18" tree you might get a 6" by 16" beam that is pretty darn rot resistant.

Or cutting the top off the tree allows the whole tree to convert to resin.  

I did see pictures where someone was barking spots all over the tree.  I'm not sure if that's this same group or another approach.
 
Greg Martin
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Mike, here's a video I just watched on finding fatwood in the forest.  I figure this kind of observation of the process happening in nature is the basis for how folks learned to take advantage of the process.  Anyhow, especially look at the rotten pine tree at timepoint 4:03.  The whole tree is rotten away except for the branch knots which are in pretty good shape despite being in rotting wood, which seems like a worst case rot scenario.  On a big tangent here....is fatwood collection and processing part of PEP?
 
Mike Haasl
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Thanks Greg, that seems like the same process.  maybe?...  

No BBs for fatwood.  It's probably too much of a niche activity and they don't do it at Wheaton Lab so I'm guessing that's why it's not in the program. Thanks though!
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