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Author Topic: black locust  (Read 11003 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
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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 :-\.
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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.

Offline 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.

Offline 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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Offline tyb525

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Re: black locust
« Reply #20 on: February 26, 2009, 10:01:19 pm »
Yes they are Honey Locust. :) I thought that's what Engineer was talking about.
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Offline Engineer

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Re: black locust
« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2009, 10:08:09 pm »
Nope, I got Black Locust.  There's thorns, just not too big.  1/4" to 3/4" long.


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Re: black locust
« Reply #22 on: February 26, 2009, 11:03:55 pm »
around here we got black locust that are used for fence post , yellow locust that get soft in the center good only for fire wood and honey locustwith the long thorns they are death on tractor tires seems like someone on the forum said it makes pretty lumber  i got 4or 5 black locust logs that fell several years ago that were not laying on the ground i strted last saw last fall but had trouble with the saw  ie band wheel belts worn out i got all new belts and am fixing to try again hope i have better luck this time ;) 8)

Offline tyb525

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Re: black locust
« Reply #23 on: February 27, 2009, 08:07:31 pm »
What I milled was Honey locust, and I'll see if I can get a picture. It has swirly grain on some peices and has pretty shades of orange and red.
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Offline Blue Sky

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Re: black locust
« Reply #24 on: February 28, 2009, 06:57:16 pm »
Polly,  Woodmizer came out with a 4 degree hook angle bandsaw blade that cuts beautifully through seasoned black locust.  Mind you may only get around 400 board feet cut before you have to change blades, but it cuts true and no waviness.

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Re: black locust
« Reply #25 on: February 28, 2009, 08:46:42 pm »
 thanks for the info i bought a new box of blades from woodmizer but i dont know what kind they are i will have to look  kinda looks to show what i know about sawing when i ::) ::) dont know what kind of blades i am using  :) :)

Offline tyb525

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Re: black locust
« Reply #26 on: February 28, 2009, 08:51:36 pm »
When they're still green the regular 9 degree blade should do fine, at least it did for me, and I only have 10 horses  :D.
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Offline wconklin

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Re: black locust
« Reply #27 on: November 14, 2009, 02:21:06 pm »
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. 


Black locust, along with Eastern Red Cedar are in the massachusetts state building code book as alternatives to PT

Offline Dave Shepard

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Re: black locust
« Reply #28 on: November 14, 2009, 03:52:01 pm »
Hello wconklin! Will I be at your house raising tomorrow, or is that a different wconklin? :D
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Re: black locust
« Reply #29 on: November 14, 2009, 05:46:28 pm »
I've got a customer that uses black locust for Adorondeck chairs.
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Re: black locust
« Reply #30 on: November 16, 2009, 07:49:11 pm »
Look for conks on locust! If they are present, you can almost guarantee there will be internal decay.
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Re: black locust
« Reply #31 on: November 20, 2009, 07:55:24 pm »
I love locust. It is said " would be the most valueable N.A. timber if not for the bark borer voids and scars".

 Shows you what some are taught, "invasive", yeah right. How about indiginous.

 Ironwood
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: black locust
« Reply #32 on: November 21, 2009, 04:46:01 am »
They have planted some around towns up here. It may seed in vacant lots adjacent to it. But, on old home sites I find grown in with native local woods, the black locust is confined to where it was planted. If over grown with spruce and maple forest it's had it. Often time old farms will grow up in white spruce around here.

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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Re: black locust
« Reply #33 on: November 21, 2009, 09:31:53 am »
I love locust. It is said " would be the most valuable N.A. timber if not for the bark borer voids and scars".

Shows you what some are taught, "invasive", yeah right. How about indigenous.

Ironwood

If black locust is an invasive species, then I would like it to invade my entire property.  I have had a dozen or so BL's seed themselves on disturbed hillsides around the house since it was built.  I take great care in making sure I don't damage them, and I have already pruned a couple for clean upright growth.  One is in a perfect location to thrive, a southern hillside open to the sun, and the tree is three years old and already 15 feet tall.  By the time I'm 60, I might have some fence posts.   :D

Offline stonebroke

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Re: black locust
« Reply #34 on: November 21, 2009, 12:36:42 pm »
If you wait until you are 60 you will have pole barn poles.

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Re: black locust
« Reply #35 on: November 21, 2009, 12:41:36 pm »
I have patch here doing the same w/.

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Re: black locust
« Reply #36 on: November 21, 2009, 01:21:57 pm »
A few years ago, they were repairing the James Madison mansion and I was asked to dry the window sills. After 22 days, which is a long time in a vacuum kiln, I decided that they were as dry as the original sills. Not dry at all.  :( But this is to be expected. The wood is good outside because it is impenetrable. It won't dry for the same reason. A 6" x 6" square is mighty heavy and it stays that way.

Offline stonebroke

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Re: black locust
« Reply #37 on: November 21, 2009, 03:25:54 pm »
Naw, locust dries ,it just takes ten or twenty years, which considering the life of the posts isn't much.

Stonebroke

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Re: black locust
« Reply #38 on: November 21, 2009, 10:35:37 pm »
It's so "shallow rooted" that it will never stand up 60 years.....at least not in our soil.
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Re: black locust
« Reply #39 on: November 22, 2009, 09:16:29 am »
There's a lot of BIG black locusts around here.  Some have been there a lot more than 60 years, I'll bet.  Got a few that are 30" + dbh, usually roadside trees.  My own clump of BL's are over 40 years old.  I have a clay and silt loam over bedrock and they are definitely NOT shallow rooted here.

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Re: black locust
« Reply #40 on: November 22, 2009, 02:28:30 pm »
I'm constantly having to cut and remove them from my woods roads.  After a wind, I can count on several being down.  When we had cattle, and after a storm, the first job was to check and fix fences.  Any BL tree that we saw leaning, we would go ahead and cut.  A 12-16 inch BL is big here.  They usually blow over by then.
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: black locust
« Reply #41 on: November 22, 2009, 04:24:58 pm »
I've seen the same thing happen with aspen on some sites. They got to around 10 inches and a whole bunch were being uprooted. Tops looked good on them and no cankers, but they wouldn't stand. They weren't old or suppressed and no where near their potential diameter.

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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Re: black locust
« Reply #42 on: November 22, 2009, 05:26:06 pm »
Ours have no taproot.  Just surface/feeder roots that are barely below the ground.
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Offline JimMartin9999

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Re: black locust
« Reply #43 on: November 22, 2009, 09:07:23 pm »
Bows, both as laminates and as self-bows, are made from black locust.
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Re: black locust
« Reply #44 on: March 25, 2017, 08:20:51 am »
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.




The building inspector in the town where my sawmill is said he would rather see me use black locust than pt pine for my timbers for a pole barn
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Offline Kbeitz

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Re: black locust
« Reply #45 on: March 25, 2017, 09:44:54 am »
Real tough to saw with my mill but it make great lettuce boxes.

 

 

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Offline Ox

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Re: black locust
« Reply #46 on: March 25, 2017, 10:27:54 am »
I made large garden boxes with black locust.  The seasoned logs I needed to pre drill the nail holes to keep from splitting.  I didn't have any trouble milling it, Kbeitz.  What was the trouble you had?
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Re: black locust
« Reply #47 on: March 25, 2017, 11:10:32 am »
I don't know where he got them but I recently dried some 4.5" Black Locust squares. The guy said they were BL and they were yellow so I guess they were.
 

 

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Re: black locust
« Reply #48 on: March 25, 2017, 04:10:09 pm »
Here's a couple locust cookies I just took out of a kiln. I don't know what that black layer through the center was but one followed it to crack in half.
 

 

 

 

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Re: black locust
« Reply #49 on: March 25, 2017, 05:57:54 pm »
I made large garden boxes with black locust.  The seasoned logs I needed to pre drill the nail holes to keep from splitting.  I didn't have any trouble milling it, Kbeitz.  What was the trouble you had?

I had more waves from that wood than any other that I ever cut.
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Re: black locust
« Reply #50 on: March 25, 2017, 06:06:28 pm »
Were you running junkyard special blades?
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Re: black locust
« Reply #51 on: March 25, 2017, 06:31:55 pm »
Were you running junkyard special blades?

Most likely. But they cut everything else ok.   
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Re: black locust
« Reply #52 on: March 25, 2017, 06:33:43 pm »
Yea but black locust is a different animal
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Re: black locust
« Reply #53 on: March 25, 2017, 08:44:50 pm »
Do you think the black line was caused by the tree getting bent in a wind?

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Re: black locust
« Reply #54 on: March 26, 2017, 12:57:57 am »
I used to work in an office that had black locust floors throughout the whole building. They were really nice looking. Whoever sawed it probably went through quite a few blades. Had a nice yellow tint to it and held up well to all the mud tracked in the building.

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Re: black locust
« Reply #55 on: March 26, 2017, 07:33:43 am »
Gave the last batch I sawed to my neighbor
he built a deck/stoop for his "bunkhouse"
Also used it for deck posts at my previous home, 
 

 

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Re: black locust
« Reply #56 on: March 26, 2017, 08:02:29 am »
The building codes have always recognized naturally decay resistant species as alternatives to treated in non ground contact situations like sills. Sometimes inspectors don't know that and then the error in interpretation begins to gain traction.

Black Locust is an invasive species but it is a native invasive vs a non native invasive. They are a short lived colonizer but there are always outliers in any broad generalizations. I've noticed the same thing previously mentioned with regards to soil type. Our side of the mountain is on granite and more acidic soils, we live on beach front property, 600 million years ago there was an inland sea in what is now the range in front of us and there is limestone and dolomite, sweeter soils over there, and much nicer locust.

I like to use it for posts and beams whenever I get good ones, strong, low shrinkage, naturally decay resistant. The American Teak.

I've run into some black shake, I assume from a bacterial infection.

Stuart Flooring offers/offered it as strip flooring, they call it "Appalachian Gold". It is a beautiful wood, very often taking on a reddish hue as it ages in sunlight.

If you look it up in the wood handbook it has an average end grain compressive strength of about 10,000 psi, compare that to average concrete at 3,000 psi, that is some impressive stuff.

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Re: black locust
« Reply #57 on: April 02, 2017, 09:30:22 am »
The demand for locust here is more than the supply. I can sell 2x8 x8 + all day long. Same for w. oak.  One third of the locust logs are no good for lumber especially large ones. I seldom take orders for locust planks longer than 10 foot because of defects.  Locust is really a pioneer weed, seldom straight but rot resistant.  The price is approaching $2.00 bd. ft.

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Re: black locust
« Reply #58 on: April 02, 2017, 10:05:41 am »
My buddy has a good sized mechanized logging operation, he's cutting a preserve down near Albany and the landowners were trying to get rid of the locust logs by drilling holes into them and planting round up pills in them.  The OP has been buying logs from him I guess.  And he's selling to a few other guys but from the way he describes it, he put an ad on CL about these locust logs and he's been ringing off the hook.  I had a locust order a couple weeks back, ~50 6x6x8' but the round up scared them away.  Alot of the logs are already rotting so kinda defeats the point of buying locust you ask me. 
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Re: black locust
« Reply #59 on: April 05, 2017, 07:37:24 pm »
I made lombard log hauler sleds out of it, was the most rot resistant wood i could find. A circular sawmill saws it pretty well,but it laughs at drills and skill saws.




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Re: black locust
« Reply #60 on: April 05, 2017, 11:31:41 pm »
Those log sleds are really spectacular.  I had to lookup a Lombard and yours are even better.  Sure would love to see those in action.  Good work!

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Re: black locust
« Reply #61 on: April 06, 2017, 08:18:45 am »
Loggah, your pictures are always incredible!  The shot of you sitting on the sled, shows the scale of it perfectly.   :)
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Re: black locust
« Reply #62 on: April 07, 2017, 09:11:40 am »
I made my deck from it and like many people, wish I had access to more logs. I've also made Adirondack chairs from black locust, (to replace the plastic ones).

 

  
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Re: black locust
« Reply #63 on: April 07, 2017, 08:35:23 pm »
That looks GREAT Jem!

I'm thinking......

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Re: black locust
« Reply #64 on: April 08, 2017, 07:48:56 am »
Wish I could get some here.
My builder friend says the new PT is crap.
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Re: black locust
« Reply #65 on: April 09, 2017, 03:00:27 pm »
Rare exit for me here from lurking...  I have an extensive amount of black locust on our old family property.  The small plot of black locust planted in the 1930s/40s was intended to be harvested.  Long story, but no harvesting ever took place and the small plot has propagated all thru the property so I have access to some rather large (sometimes straight, sometimes, not so much).  Many of the originally planted ones have fallen due to the shallow root it seems to have. 

I've poured thru the forums trying to soak up all the info available so this thread is very timely.  I've gathered up a assortment of blades from Frozen hardwood to bimetal and stellite.  The later I was thinking might work on the trees that had already fallen.  Based on how hard I already know cutting dried black locust is with a chainsaw, I don't have much hope for even the stellite bladeon these dried logs.  Am I off base?

I have only cut one tree thus far.  Dropped a fresh 10-12 inch one last fall.   It was clearly dense, but not bad at all to cut with a normal blade.  Not sure if this is the only one in existence, but what kid in Indiana shouldn't grow up with a Goalrilla with a 6" black locust post? (Craigslist find, post was trashed). Not being sure if it would twist,  I let it season over the winter. It did not move at all, so I just put it in a couple weeks back.



Next project in the next few weeks is a lot bigger,  I want to put a new privacy fence in. I would like to put the fence in when the wood is still green. I am very much a newbie Sawyer and feel like I am overthinking how to saw it.  Is it ok to just flat saw it?  How much offset pith is trouble? Since I want to put it up green (I don't want to have to drill  holes for a huge fence) is it ok to go ahead double nail it or just one nail for a few weeks / months to keep splitting to a minimum?

I expect after cutting and building the fence I'll have better answers for the other project... The eternal black locust cabin....  (Something else I'm not sure exists!)
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Re: black locust
« Reply #66 on: April 09, 2017, 05:34:51 pm »
I resawed a very dry black locust 12x12 with a 1 1/4"x.055" 4 DoubleHard band with no trouble. It did take plenty of hp.
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Re: black locust
« Reply #67 on: April 09, 2017, 05:59:53 pm »
Black locust is the most stable and shrink resistant wood I've ever milled.  The pith is basically non existent in a solid tree.  Flat saw through and through and you'll have no troubles.  At least I didn't.  Posts, boards, whatever doesn't warp, twist or crack.  It's the best wood ever.  The only drawback is driving nails or screws after it's seasoned.  You'll likely need to pre-drill.
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Re: black locust
« Reply #68 on: April 09, 2017, 06:19:33 pm »
What do your logs look like? Are they nice and straight? It's hard to find straight stuff around here. I get a fair bit of degrade in locust.
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Re: black locust
« Reply #69 on: April 09, 2017, 06:54:03 pm »
My logs are pretty straight, for locust that is.  I think I'm fairly lucky cause just about every one I've ever milled was solid through.  But these were crowded when they grew, so fast and straight was the rule for them.  I'm not sure how they would grow out in the middle of a field.  A tangled mess, maybe?  Beats me.  There's some down by where I grew up that are close to 6 feet across.  No kidding!  I'll get pics of them someday with someone standing in front for scale.  I've never seen anything like them.  Probably about 5 feet of them is hollow by now!
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