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 Last Update 02/04/07

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Can I use elm firewood given to me by a tree removal company?
Is furniture made of elm wood prone to cracking?

 

Question

 

Can I use elm firewood given to me by a tree removal company?

Answer I would be very concerned about the wood and the possibility of disease.  Tree companies will often have trouble disposing of wood and will jump at the opportunity of giving it away rather than hauling it away.  Many of them are rather unscrupulous and will tell you what you want to hear if it is in their best interest.  You could very well spread the disease in your area by having the wood there.  Many jurisdictions have strict bans on elm firewood with stiff penalties if it is found on your property.  There is a characteristic streaking of the wood that can be seen in infected branches, but sometimes that is hard to detect if you are not familiar with the symptom.  If the wood is very dry and the bark is loose or absent then there is little to be concerned about.  If not, then you could have a problem. Elms are very vigorous trees and don't die very easily, so I wonder why the tree died if it was not DED.  I would suggest contacting a local urban forester or a consulting arborist ASAP, as the bark beetles that transfer the disease will fly to healthy trees any time soon. This could be a serious problem for your neighbourhood.

 

Question Is furniture made of elm wood prone to cracking in dry areas?
Answer It seems that if that much time has been taken to dry the wood it should be fairly dry. The only question remaining is whether it was dried outside or inside. If outside, it will probably have about 15% residual moisture and that can drop to 4-5% inside in the driest time of the year. The other question raised is how was the piece cut? If the slice was made along the grain of the wood there is a much lower likelihood that it will split than if the piece was cut on an angle across the grain. You should also see how the final finish has been applied and how well all the surfaces have been sealed. The finish should be highly impermeable to moisture.

 

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