Home Main Category Clubhouse

South Texas Wood

Dr. dbDr. db Senior MemberPosts: 1,541 Senior Member
Careful now! This isn't a Steve Reeves movie.
I had to remove some trees at my moms house and I did a very little research on the potential use of the woods.
1. Hackberry. Is this wood good to burn in wood stoves or BBQs? This is a south Texas tree that we did not use and I don't know why. There are no real berries.
2. Aromatic cedar. Not really good for burning but it could be used for some furniture or lining a closet.
3. Black Persimmon. Heart wood is very black. I have read that the heart is like ebony?
4. South Texas Live Oak. Light outer wood and dark brown heart wood. I know it's good BBQ and fire wood.

Question
How should I dry or season the wood if I want to use them for grips, accent inlay, floors in a house, or furniture?
I have cut and split the oak for fire wood, that was fun, and left the persimmon and cedar in about 5 ft logs this time but I could do it another way if that works out better.

Replies

  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,798 Senior Member
    All I can tell you is that other than using cedar for fence posts, I've never seen any of these woods being used the way you are inquiring about. You could have them ripped into 1" thicknesses and stacked in a way that would enable the planks to dry in a more or less straight configuration, and just try them. But, I suspect that if they were any good for those applications, you would have seen some of the products. I have used persimmon for fence posts, simply because they were straight and the right diameter, but I moved off before I found out how long they last - I suspect not more than a very few years - the dryness of the climate would affect that in a major way.
  • FisheadgibFisheadgib Senior Member Posts: 5,797 Senior Member
    Woodsrunner, (Rich) would be the one to ask. He's about a walking encyclopedia about woods.
    snake284 wrote: »
    For my point of view, cpj is a lot like me
    .
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 11,150 Senior Member
    Hackberry is good for nothing. It burns too fast for firewood, burns too hot and stinky for BBQ, too soft for woodworking, and rots too fast for fences. Pretty much only good for fast growing shade. And bonfires

    cedar heart wood makes good fenceposts, and is good for some decorative carving, etc. It also is good for ruining ranchland, and wasting precious water.

    Live oak- BBQ!!! The best BBQ in the world (Franklin's here in Austin) exclusively uses central TX liveoak.
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Senior Member Posts: 2,725 Senior Member
    Fisheadgib, I do appreciate your confidence, but you gotta remember.....I'm just an old dumb Appalachian Mountain Country Boy what ain't got no education to brag about :tooth:!

    Dr. db, please tell me where in Texas you are talking about since many species of eastern trees are restricted to the northeastern 1/3rd of Texas. My wife owns the old family farm in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, so I'm pretty familiar with what grows south of Houston down to the Valley. If I knew about where you are in Texas, I may be able to give you some ideas.
  • Dr. dbDr. db Senior Member Posts: 1,541 Senior Member
    Thanks woodsrunner;
    San Antonio area. Out Hwy 16 (Bandera Road) about 1/2 way from Leon Valley to Helotes. Just the beginning of the Texas hill country. The persimmons are black when ripe. Hogs and deer literally beat a path to the trees but being south Texas the good years are about 1 in 10. I kinda suspected the Hackberry, we never used it for anything. Not even to burn. The cedar we used for fence posts but I know some people use it for cedar chests or even just blocks to put in the closet. The oak I know about BBQ but this is the first time I have a chance to get substantial thickness. This was a medium size tree for the property and it was about 16 inches thick.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    Dr. db wrote: »
    Thanks woodsrunner;
    San Antonio area. Out Hwy 16 (Bandera Road) about 1/2 way from Leon Valley to Helotes. Just the beginning of the Texas hill country. The persimmons are black when ripe. Hogs and deer literally beat a path to the trees but being south Texas the good years are about 1 in 10. I kinda suspected the Hackberry, we never used it for anything. Not even to burn. The cedar we used for fence posts but I know some people use it for cedar chests or even just blocks to put in the closet. The oak I know about BBQ but this is the first time I have a chance to get substantial thickness. This was a medium size tree for the property and it was about 16 inches thick.

    The two best woods for BBQ in Texas grow there, Mesquite and Live Oak and I like a blend. Live oak burns at a moderate temperature and is great for fire places. It's also great BBQing wood and flavors meat nicely. Mesquite is really too hot and oily for a fireplace. But it's king of the BBQ pit for flavoring meat and sausage. Also, you will find Pecan growing along rivers and streams in South and central south texas. Pecan is from the Hickory family but has a milder flavor. Another oak that you find sometimes in our area is Burr Oak. It's related to White Oak and is great for BBQ and fireplaces.

    Another oak that is ok for fireplaces but not so great for BBQ is Post Oak. It's got a bitterness to it. However, if used with Pecan or something mild it is ok for bbq. Due to its shape it might be good for furniture or baseball bats.

    It doesn't really grow naturally in our area but it does grow in East Texas is Red Oak. I've never used it for BBQ but know it's got a nice smell. And it's used extensively in fire places.


    Persimmon used to be used in Golf Club heads back in the day, and I would imagine it burns slow because it is very hard, not sure of that, just a guess. Hackberry, like Bullsi said, is pretty well useless except for a bon fire. It will give meat a perfumed off taste. And it burns to ashes fast. Hackberry grows prolifically along fence lines because Birds sitting on the fence will poop out the seeds. To me, Hackberry is right up there with Chinese Tallow at being a totally worthless Pain in the ****

    Also, for pistol grips and even guns stocks, Mesquite, if cured right, makes some beautiful ones. Before he brought out the Mark V, in which he use Claro Walnut, he used Screw Bean Mesquite, which is even prettier than plain mesquite. But plain old Red Mesquite has some beautiful coloration and grain. It smells good to me too.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Senior Member Posts: 2,725 Senior Member
    OK, it helps to know about where you are in Texas. Here's what I think, but remember, my forestry experiences are centered in the Southeastern states and my field experience west of about western Louisiana is very limited. I am familiar with the Lower Rio Grande Valley, but purely through agricultural contacts associated with my wife's farm. I have paid careful attention to the trees from Houston down to the Valley, however. (Our native Pecan trees that produce the nuts you buy in the store originated in the Lavaca, Sandy, Colorado and San Bernard drainage systems around Victoria-Wharton, Texas, and I see the "Parent Trees" on trips down for example).

    But Texas covers the "other half" of the USA, remember, and if you strike an imaginary east-west line from about Houston to US 77 on the way to San Antonio, then up 77 to the Oklahoma line, the forest trees north and east of this line are about the same as through most of the Southeastern states. West of this line, and it's a roll of the dice on what you have with some species common in the Pacific Northwest also common in west Texas. So with that in mind, here's what I think you probably have:

    Hackberry.....You probably don't have this species (Celtis occidentalis). What you see and call Hackberry is probably Sugarberry, (C. laevigata) which looks similar, but is about as useful for commercial purposes as mammary glands on a boar hog. [ Note: all foresters/botanists will specify the Latin name when discussing tree species, not to come across as a "sexual intellectual", but to cover the different common names for the same tree in different areas or vice-versa---and this is a good illustration ie Hackberry/Sugarberry]. In its home range Hackberry is a lumber producing species, though not of very high value.

    Aromatic Cedar.....Again, you don't have the true Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) which produces commercially valuable materials for lining closets and furniture manufacturing. What you probably have is either Alligator Juniper (J. pachyphloea) or One-Seed Juniper (J. monosperma). If it smells like Cedar, and it should, and if you can get a small log big enough to put on a sawmill carriage, then saw it out and use it! I've never seen any Juniper-Cedar around San Antonio big enough to saw, but you may have it.

    Black Persimmon.....Once again, you don't have really true Persimmon ((Diospyros virginiana). What you have is a local non-commercially valuable scrub species called, I think, Texas Persimmon, (D. texana). Persimmon is a member of the Ebony family, about 240-250 species worldwide,. I've seen some from the Indo-Malaya/Ceylon area that is beautiful beyond description. Our Persimmon in the eastern states is commercially valuable (or once was...about all cut out now) but yours never was. But again, if you can get a small log big enough to saw out, do it and use it! It's as hard as granite!

    Live Oak (Quercus virginiana).....Now we're on the same wave link! Yours is the same as ours over here in the Southeast! Tough as nails! Would turn cannonballs back in the sailing ship days! It's what we call a diffuse porous hardwood because the grain is inner-locking unlike other Oaks which are straight grained. I've seen very little out your way that would produce a log long enough to put on a sawmill carriage, and even if you found one you'd be wasting your time trying to get it cut! It is sawn here locally for dragline mats, primarily, or wooden truck beds for hauling big tracked equipment. I've sold it commercially. But to saw it the mill has to have a water spray system putting a pretty good stream of water on the cutting edge of the blade, or else the saw blade teeth are ruined in about a minute! I wouldn't even use it for BBC or smoking wood unless it was cut (by someone else) into small diameter short pieces. If you put a chainsaw in it, be sure to have several files handy to touch up the chain!

    As snake says, you've got the best BBC-smoking wood in the world commonly available to you....MESQUITE! This stuff has a beautiful grain pattern and it's HARD! Don't know why Mesquite isn't used for pistol grips and knife handles. It's beautiful, and like a pig snout and a certain female organ, it will never wear out :tooth: It won't rot either. I have a chopping block that I cut off the farm near Brownsville at least 20 years ago, and it shows no rot after this many years out in Florida's wet weather! I have an idea that if it could be found long enough for fence posts, a post would outlast 3 or 4 postholes!

    Hope this helps a little, or as "snake" would say: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao:!
  • shushshush Senior Member Posts: 6,259 Senior Member
    Hope this helps a little, or as "snake" would say: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao:!

    :spittingcoffee:

    You certainly know your onions Woodsy! :applause:

    Very impressive, my mate! :up:
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    OK, it helps to know about where you are in Texas. Here's what I think, but remember, my forestry experiences are centered in the Southeastern states and my field experience west of about western Louisiana is very limited. I am familiar with the Lower Rio Grande Valley, but purely through agricultural contacts associated with my wife's farm. I have paid careful attention to the trees from Houston down to the Valley, however. (Our native Pecan trees that produce the nuts you buy in the store originated in the Lavaca, Sandy, Colorado and San Bernard drainage systems around Victoria-Wharton, Texas, and I see the "Parent Trees" on trips down for example).

    But Texas covers the "other half" of the USA, remember, and if you strike an imaginary east-west line from about Houston to US 77 on the way to San Antonio, then up 77 to the Oklahoma line, the forest trees north and east of this line are about the same as through most of the Southeastern states. West of this line, and it's a roll of the dice on what you have with some species common in the Pacific Northwest also common in west Texas. So with that in mind, here's what I think you probably have:

    Hackberry.....You probably don't have this species (Celtis occidentalis). What you see and call Hackberry is probably Sugarberry, (C. laevigata) which looks similar, but is about as useful for commercial purposes as mammary glands on a boar hog. [ Note: all foresters/botanists will specify the Latin name when discussing tree species, not to come across as a "sexual intellectual", but to cover the different common names for the same tree in different areas or vice-versa---and this is a good illustration ie Hackberry/Sugarberry]. In its home range Hackberry is a lumber producing species, though not of very high value.

    Aromatic Cedar.....Again, you don't have the true Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) which produces commercially valuable materials for lining closets and furniture manufacturing. What you probably have is either Alligator Juniper (J. pachyphloea) or One-Seed Juniper (J. monosperma). If it smells like Cedar, and it should, and if you can get a small log big enough to put on a sawmill carriage, then saw it out and use it! I've never seen any Juniper-Cedar around San Antonio big enough to saw, but you may have it.

    Black Persimmon.....Once again, you don't have really true Persimmon ((Diospyros virginiana). What you have is a local non-commercially valuable scrub species called, I think, Texas Persimmon, (D. texana). Persimmon is a member of the Ebony family, about 240-250 species worldwide,. I've seen some from the Indo-Malaya/Ceylon area that is beautiful beyond description. Our Persimmon in the eastern states is commercially valuable (or once was...about all cut out now) but yours never was. But again, if you can get a small log big enough to saw out, do it and use it! It's as hard as granite!

    Live Oak (Quercus virginiana).....Now we're on the same wave link! Yours is the same as ours over here in the Southeast! Tough as nails! Would turn cannonballs back in the sailing ship days! It's what we call a diffuse porous hardwood because the grain is inner-locking unlike other Oaks which are straight grained. I've seen very little out your way that would produce a log long enough to put on a sawmill carriage, and even if you found one you'd be wasting your time trying to get it cut! It is sawn here locally for dragline mats, primarily, or wooden truck beds for hauling big tracked equipment. I've sold it commercially. But to saw it the mill has to have a water spray system putting a pretty good stream of water on the cutting edge of the blade, or else the saw blade teeth are ruined in about a minute! I wouldn't even use it for BBC or smoking wood unless it was cut (by someone else) into small diameter short pieces. If you put a chainsaw in it, be sure to have several files handy to touch up the chain!

    As snake says, you've got the best BBC-smoking wood in the world commonly available to you....MESQUITE! This stuff has a beautiful grain pattern and it's HARD! Don't know why Mesquite isn't used for pistol grips and knife handles. It's beautiful, and like a pig snout and a certain female organ, it will never wear out :tooth: It won't rot either. I have a chopping block that I cut off the farm near Brownsville at least 20 years ago, and it shows no rot after this many years out in Florida's wet weather! I have an idea that if it could be found long enough for fence posts, a post would outlast 3 or 4 postholes!

    Hope this helps a little, or as "snake" would say: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao:!

    Thanks Woodsrunner, that's a good write up. But we do cut live oak here. And mostly with chain saws although I have worn a couple of chains to the point where they couldn't be sharpened. But Mesquite will do that too. The Key to both live oak and Mesquite is cutting up before it cures. If you cut it off a tree and cut it up to the size you can use, it's fine. But cut a limb off a tree and let it sit on the ground for a couple months and you better bring a diamond studded saw blade if you want to cut it up, because once it dries and cures it gets diamond hard. The old ship builders used live oak limbs for the stem of a ship due to the natural curve of limbs of a mature tree.

    And it does rival mesquite on the BBQ pit. Live oak makes a very sweet smelling smoke with very little bitter oils in it, unlike Mesquite, which is more oily. When using Mesquite on a pit don't put raw wood on the fire unless it's cured to the point it's almost soft, which doesn't make real good coals. Burning it down to coals is best. Then shovel the coals under the meat. This makes some of the best barbecue money can buy, whether Pork, Beef, or Chicken.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    Dr. db wrote: »
    Careful now! This isn't a Steve Reeves movie.
    I had to remove some trees at my moms house and I did a very little research on the potential use of the woods.
    1. Hackberry. Is this wood good to burn in wood stoves or BBQs? This is a south Texas tree that we did not use and I don't know why. There are no real berries.
    2. Aromatic cedar. Not really good for burning but it could be used for some furniture or lining a closet.
    3. Black Persimmon. Heart wood is very black. I have read that the heart is like ebony?
    4. South Texas Live Oak. Light outer wood and dark brown heart wood. I know it's good BBQ and fire wood.

    Question
    How should I dry or season the wood if I want to use them for grips, accent inlay, floors in a house, or furniture?
    I have cut and split the oak for fire wood, that was fun, and left the persimmon and cedar in about 5 ft logs this time but I could do it another way if that works out better.


    The best way I've seen to cure or season wood is to put it in a dry place, out of the sun, and let it sit for about 8 months to a couple years depending on the wood. My dad's family was in the saw mill business before I was born and they talked about slow curing wood adding a spray of water every once in a while. I guess it depends on the wood and what you want to use it for.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    OK, it helps to know about where you are in Texas. Here's what I think, but remember, my forestry experiences are centered in the Southeastern states and my field experience west of about western Louisiana is very limited. I am familiar with the Lower Rio Grande Valley, but purely through agricultural contacts associated with my wife's farm. I have paid careful attention to the trees from Houston down to the Valley, however. (Our native Pecan trees that produce the nuts you buy in the store originated in the Lavaca, Sandy, Colorado and San Bernard drainage systems around Victoria-Wharton, Texas, and I see the "Parent Trees" on trips down for example).

    But Texas covers the "other half" of the USA, remember, and if you strike an imaginary east-west line from about Houston to US 77 on the way to San Antonio, then up 77 to the Oklahoma line, the forest trees north and east of this line are about the same as through most of the Southeastern states. West of this line, and it's a roll of the dice on what you have with some species common in the Pacific Northwest also common in west Texas. So with that in mind, here's what I think you probably have:

    Hackberry.....You probably don't have this species (Celtis occidentalis). What you see and call Hackberry is probably Sugarberry, (C. laevigata) which looks similar, but is about as useful for commercial purposes as mammary glands on a boar hog. [ Note: all foresters/botanists will specify the Latin name when discussing tree species, not to come across as a "sexual intellectual", but to cover the different common names for the same tree in different areas or vice-versa---and this is a good illustration ie Hackberry/Sugarberry]. In its home range Hackberry is a lumber producing species, though not of very high value.

    Aromatic Cedar.....Again, you don't have the true Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) which produces commercially valuable materials for lining closets and furniture manufacturing. What you probably have is either Alligator Juniper (J. pachyphloea) or One-Seed Juniper (J. monosperma). If it smells like Cedar, and it should, and if you can get a small log big enough to put on a sawmill carriage, then saw it out and use it! I've never seen any Juniper-Cedar around San Antonio big enough to saw, but you may have it.

    Black Persimmon.....Once again, you don't have really true Persimmon ((Diospyros virginiana). What you have is a local non-commercially valuable scrub species called, I think, Texas Persimmon, (D. texana). Persimmon is a member of the Ebony family, about 240-250 species worldwide,. I've seen some from the Indo-Malaya/Ceylon area that is beautiful beyond description. Our Persimmon in the eastern states is commercially valuable (or once was...about all cut out now) but yours never was. But again, if you can get a small log big enough to saw out, do it and use it! It's as hard as granite!

    Live Oak (Quercus virginiana).....Now we're on the same wave link! Yours is the same as ours over here in the Southeast! Tough as nails! Would turn cannonballs back in the sailing ship days! It's what we call a diffuse porous hardwood because the grain is inner-locking unlike other Oaks which are straight grained. I've seen very little out your way that would produce a log long enough to put on a sawmill carriage, and even if you found one you'd be wasting your time trying to get it cut! It is sawn here locally for dragline mats, primarily, or wooden truck beds for hauling big tracked equipment. I've sold it commercially. But to saw it the mill has to have a water spray system putting a pretty good stream of water on the cutting edge of the blade, or else the saw blade teeth are ruined in about a minute! I wouldn't even use it for BBC or smoking wood unless it was cut (by someone else) into small diameter short pieces. If you put a chainsaw in it, be sure to have several files handy to touch up the chain!

    As snake says, you've got the best BBC-smoking wood in the world commonly available to you....MESQUITE! This stuff has a beautiful grain pattern and it's HARD! Don't know why Mesquite isn't used for pistol grips and knife handles. It's beautiful, and like a pig snout and a certain female organ, it will never wear out :tooth: It won't rot either. I have a chopping block that I cut off the farm near Brownsville at least 20 years ago, and it shows no rot after this many years out in Florida's wet weather! I have an idea that if it could be found long enough for fence posts, a post would outlast 3 or 4 postholes!

    Hope this helps a little, or as "snake" would say: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao:!

    Also Rich, as I said in a prior post here, A lot of people do use Mesquite for handles on Pistols and even for gun stocks. From what I've read and heard, you need to cure it well, paying attention to the moisture level. Both Live Oak AND mesquite can get brittle and too hard to work. I knew a guy at work that carved his on pistol hand

    Also, as you mentioned, some of these species wouldn't make logs long enough to fit a saw mill carriage. But for something the size of a rifle stock Mesquite and Live Oak get big enough for this. But like my friend said, it's got to be cured correctly to be worked. But that goes for any wood.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    Cedar is most prolific in Texas up in the Hill Country. But no, it grows more in bushes than trees. It's good for fence post and small curios, but not for large boards. Do you know if there's any truth to the story that back in Prohibition the Juniper Berries were used to make Bootleg Gin? My maternal Grand Father was said to have made lots of bathtub Gin from that. I was curious. I don't think he had a still, but he may have known somebody that did.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 16,920 Senior Member
    Since juniper berries are used in gin, I would assume they would be used in the homemade version. On the other hand, to me, juniper has always smelled like cat piss.
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • hawk18hawk18 Senior Member Posts: 742 Senior Member
    On a hot, summer day, juniper does smell like cat piss.

    As to curing wood for uses other than burning, if it's for grips, I cut it into usable billets, 2.5x2.5x5 inches, melt some paraffin, heat the wood til I can just barely handle it and dip the end grain in the wax. Then I store it in a closet, in the house, (dry environment ) til I use it. Sometimes, several years. When I'm ready to use it, I slice it off in half inch slabs and vacuum treat it with Minwax wood hardener. Never had one split yet. I do knives, for guns, make the slabs thicker.

    I've done this for several hardwoods prone to splitting. Haven't had a problem yet.

    Hawk
  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Senior Member Posts: 2,725 Senior Member
    While we're on the subject of pistol grips and knife handles, let me mention this:

    Common old Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) bush/small tree.....

    This bush/small tree is as common as VD in a seaport all over the southeast USA including Texas and much of the milder climate western states. It's used as a ornamental in landscaping, but the wood in the trunk is awesomely beautiful. It looks like very tight grained tiger stripped Maple or Walnut in high-end firearms. I send it up to a high quality knife maker friend when I run across it, and he can't get enough! If you get a chance, cut some out with a hand saw, let it dry and see what you think!
  • hawk18hawk18 Senior Member Posts: 742 Senior Member
    Thanks woodsrunner. My crape myrtle is too small but a neighbor, up the street, has one that is about 6" at the base.

    Hawk
Sign In or Register to comment.
Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Advertisement