Does Your Tree Have Lumber Potential

Urban Wood - Madison Wisconsin - Southern Wisconsin

Does Your Tree Have Lumber Potential?

If you have an urban tree that is being removed and would like to see it put to a higher use than firewood, great. But before we can move forward, we’d have several questions to ask. Below is a list of measurements and notes that are good to take before reaching out to us about your tree.

DBH - Diameter at Breast Height

When standing next to the tree take out your measuring tape and record the measurement around the tree at chest height, similar to the yellow band you see on the tree photo above. This is a circumference measurement, but we can convert this outside the bark circumference to an inside the bark diameter at breast height.

Height to First Limb

This can be tricky on a taller tree, but measure what you can and estimate beyond that. The height to this first limb tells us most of what we can expect for lumber. If there is just a single main trunk continuing we might get another log or two but most of the lumber is below that first limb.

Unique Character

Does your tree have any noticeable scars, any unique growths like the burl in the picture above? Limb scars, limbs that have been removed in year’s past, all create different character qualities. Note as many as you can.


This might be the most tricky part…unless you have a walnut, and then the August/September mess makes it obvious. Even if you know it is an oak or a maple, we’ll likely want to narrow that down. Often a quick Google search can lead you to the right identification, but if in doubt, a couple quick photos can be very helpful to us. A closeup of the leaf held up to the bark (perhaps a 12” area of bark) and a background of the tree so we can see its shape are useful.

a list of common Hardwood trees in our region

Silver Maple, Sugar Maple, Norway Maple

Black Cherry (sometimes called Choke Cherry)

White Oak, Bur Oak, Red Oak, Pin Oak

Black Walnut, Hackberry, Hickory

Honey Locust, Black Locust

American Elm, Siberian Elm, Red Elm

Ash, Linden, Mulberry, Boxelder

Do you have project ideas

Loosing a tree is never something you look forward to, but if it is happening, consider that the potential loss outside your home might be a potential gain for inside your home. If you have any thoughts about projects you might want us to make from your tree, we can look at your information with that in mind. Based on the information you provide, we may be able to guide you on whether that project might be possible, or toward what other possibilities we might see in your tree.

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