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Author Topic: black locust  (Read 11001 times)

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Offline Blue Sky

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black locust
« on: February 24, 2009, 11:42:48 am »
I would like to know if there is anyone out there utilizing black locust, other than its' lowest use as firewood.  It is a totally under used resource as far as I am concerned.  I myself have been milling for some 10 years now here in Western Mass.

Offline ID4ster

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Re: black locust
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2009, 12:21:11 pm »
In the Finger Lake region of NY black locust is prized for grape arbor poles. They're strong and they don't rot  and so are used on the ends of the rows especially. There is one landowner between Addison and Woodhull, NY that has a lot of locust on his property and he and his crew are constantly making poles to sell. Go by most any time and they'll have stacks of cut and sharpened poles curing out and ready to be shipped. They've got a real steady market.   
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: black locust
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2009, 05:31:32 pm »
I've sawn for posts and know of people that have used it for deck boards.  I also sold it to one guy who made playground equipment. 
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Offline Dodgy Loner

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Re: black locust
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2009, 06:04:38 pm »
Most common use for it in my area is for split-rail fencing.
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Offline tyb525

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Re: black locust
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2009, 06:36:27 pm »
It makes real pretty furniture, IMO.
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Offline Dave Shepard

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Re: black locust
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2009, 07:09:15 pm »
We harvest and saw black locust. I've made fence posts, both random shape, and 4x4, 6x6 etc. I've also sawn out sleepers and boards for woodland walkways. We have a customer that gets a lot of these walkway jobs. They are usually short runs over wet spots or streams on woodland trails. It's a great wood, both tough, and rot resistant.
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Offline Dodgy Loner

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Re: black locust
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2009, 07:32:36 pm »
If I ever get my hands on some I'll have plenty of good uses for it.  I agree that it's a very versatile wood, but the split-rail fencing is the only use of commercial importance around here.  If it were easier to nail, it would probably be a more popular substitute for pressure-treated pine :D
"There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." -John Ruskin

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Offline Dave Shepard

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Re: black locust
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2009, 07:37:27 pm »
We're wondering if we can get away with using it for sill plates in houses. I'd rather have that than PT, but I doubt you would find a building inspector that would cooperate. :( We have used timberlok screws with great success, and the air nailer seems to work ok too.
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Offline Dodgy Loner

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Re: black locust
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2009, 07:47:29 pm »
I remember seeing one building code that was brought up on the forum where black locust was the only wood that could be substituted for PT pine...So I guess it depends on the location.  Sorry, can't find the link to it :-\.
"There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." -John Ruskin

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Offline Dave Shepard

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Re: black locust
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2009, 07:56:56 pm »
I'll have to look into that. 8)
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Offline Blue Sky

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Re: black locust
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2009, 07:02:34 am »
D S, same in our area.  Building inspector's around here are just getting updated info on locust as an a much more durable and stronger alternative than pt.  Also, from the Certified Organic Farms in this state--they DO NOT allow pt on site in order to certify a farm as organic.   I saw pretty regular sill plates for home construction.  Best to harvest in winter, mill sills and let sit 6 months.  Had a client out your way that was buying 8/4 locust, live edge and using it on trails.  Wondering why I have not heard from him in awhile.   Enchanted Forester

Offline Engineer

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Re: black locust
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2009, 08:44:53 am »
I have a bunch of small gnarly black locust on my land that I have been cutting for firewood.  A couple of the trees have been straight enough to use for poles or posts, and I have about 100 board feet of 4/4 locust boards stockpiled.  I'd love to find a source around here that had some nice straight logs to mill, but the only ones I see are in people's front yards.

Locust would make great sill boards.  I put a piece of locust in as a door threshold on my shed at my old house, and it's still there and solid as the day it was put in.  It's hard to even damage it, let alone rot.

Online SwampDonkey

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Re: black locust
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2009, 09:00:46 am »
A few years back it seems it was real popular around towns and farm houses, they planted it like it was some new trend or style to follow. I don't see anyone doing it now. That was a long time ago, I suppose they liked the flowers. I see some near old long abandoned farm homes with new forest growing up around. That perennial bamboo was a big thing too it seems. As far as the wood, I never saw many straight ones even in yards. The most knarly looking stuff I've seen. It may have been some New Englanders coming here to homestead because some of these farms aren't much older than the rail road of 150 years ago. Many were abandoned in WWI and all you have is a rock cellar left.

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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Offline Engineer

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Re: black locust
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2009, 09:19:51 am »
I love the stuff, thorns and all.  It makes the BEST firewood, but I try not to overcut it as I'd like to encourage new seedpods to sprout.  I also leave the stumps and encourage them to resprout, and any new saplings are left alone.  If I had the choice, I'd have acres of nothing BUT locust.  The little tiny leaves are a big bonus too - nothing to rake up.

Offline Blue Sky

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Re: black locust
« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2009, 10:18:32 am »
Locust loves growing on limestone deposits.  In Vermont, on the west side of the Conneticut River, there is a limestone intrusion from West Brattleboro north to around Springfield.  The locust growing there is beautiful.  Straight, lacking the locust borer that is so prevelent in our area below this intrusion.  Also in New York state the old inland sea from750 million years ago supports tremendous stands of locust.  I believe it was planted extensively after the new interstates were built there.  Locust grew on sterile soils and spread rapidly.  I believe also that New York has declared it an invasive species as has Massachusetts.

Online SwampDonkey

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Re: black locust
« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2009, 10:57:37 am »
No shortage of calcareous bedrock here, even the cedars grow on it.

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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Offline ErikC

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Re: black locust
« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2009, 11:40:14 am »
  I have some of it around here, leftovers from older times I guess. It grows like a thicket. I like the flowers and the quail like the seedpods, they eat all winter from them. One fell down by the creek, now there are about a 100 starting up along the old log, with roots still in the ground. I don't believe I could easily kill it off, even if I wanted to. It does make good firewood.
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Offline mike_van

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Re: black locust
« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2009, 05:06:44 pm »
State forester here called it an invasive species. I saw a lot of it for trailers, bridge decks & sills.  It was used for pegs in timberframe barns. Old timers said it would last two years longer than stone.  :D
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Offline tyb525

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Re: black locust
« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2009, 09:38:36 pm »
I was lucky enough to find one that was about 20" with only a little rot in the middle. I don't like the trees though, they're taking over our pasture as we speak. Can't bushog them too well, cause they might poke holes in the tires.
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Offline okie

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Re: black locust
« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2009, 09:58:34 pm »
I was lucky enough to find one that was about 20" with only a little rot in the middle. I don't like the trees though, they're taking over our pasture as we speak. Can't bushog them too well, cause they might poke holes in the tires.

Ty, sure you got black locust and not honey locust? I'm cutting a bunch of honey locust now, well earlier today. What I understand to be black locust only has small thorns on the branch tips, honey locust I know has gargantuan spears all over the trunk and branches. Some HL have no thorns though, do'nt know why that is. A local farmer asked me to come cut all the honey locust I could use, got upset when I was cuttin one that had no thorns. I had one heck of a time convincing him it was in fact a honey locust.
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