White Oak – Princeton, NJ
In 2012, one of the most powerful and destructive storms to ever hit New Jersey washed away homes, flooded roads , knocked out power for weeks and left trees, cracked, split or completely knocked over by the high winds.
During hurricane Sandy George and Carolyn Wilson, of Stuart Road in Princeton, took refuge in the downstairs portion of their house which is partially underground. The winds blew so hard that a giant white oak came crashing down and one of the limbs opened a large gash in the roof, allowing debris to pour into the house as the storm raged on.
Several years later, George and Carolyn’s daughter Brett offered us that big white oak to harvest. The tree had been off the ground and suspended due to the large root mass, tipped up by the powerful winds. Brett’s parents had recently decided to sell the house to a developer who would benefit from having the tree removed.
The oak was over 38 inches in diameter and very straight. Allison knew she could get some excellent lumber if it wasn’t too badly decayed. Fortunately, the hillside ground was uneven and rocky, so the entire large section of the trunk had been suspended above the ground avoiding some of the rot that would happen if it were on the ground.
Our Timber Jockey, David Hopkins was enlisted to help with the project and we decided that milling the tree onsite with Fiona our 26” sawmill would be optimal.
For the next week, we cut the log into 6-8 foot sections, quartered the logs to fit the sawmill and began slabbing the tree into boards for drying. Papa Smurf, our fantastic Dodge Ram 1500 was utilized to pull the tree off the top of the hillside to quarter the logs.
As we began to harvest the tree, we found the grains were delightful and unique. The angle that the tree had dried provided for some excellent and unique coloring. Additionally, there was a portion of the tree that had an abnormal growth in the shape of a 5 ft bulge, offering an extremely unique wood with purple and black coloring as in a flame. Although Allison guessed the colors would fade upon drying, the ultimate result included some striking patterns and colors.
Over the ages Brett’s Tree had received its fair share of wood-worms which had begun eating the outside edge of the softwood on the tree. This provided us with an excellent opportunity to include that uniquely bored wood into furniture you won’t find anywhere else.