A perfect project for this idea is to make a hardwood floor with wood from locally grown trees. There are three common hardwood trees in northeast Montana, they are the Ash, the Siberian Elm and the Russian Olive. Russian Olive wood is probably the most distinctive being almost chocolate colored, it is a very beautiful wood. However virtually no one uses it for anything other than burning. Though it its the softest of the three woods it is still a hardwood so it will work for a floor. Russian Olive trees are usually not very big. They do not produce large straight trunks and they often grow crooked in many directions. This makes it a very poor candidate for milling or for even getting large pieces out of it. The Siberian elm is often thought of as a junk tree, a nuisance and/or a weed tree. It puts out huge amounts of seeds in the spring which sprout everywhere and the seedlings are tough to remove once they get a foothold. It usually grows in more urban areas. The deer love to eat it so you don't find to many of them in the wooded areas. There are many types of elms and elm wood is known to be a beautiful wood, but also a difficult wood to work with. It has the tendency to split, crack and warp so it is not used that often for wood projects. The only tree in the group that has a good reputation is the the Ash.
Almost all of the wood floors that you will come across are made of long boards. That's nice but it is a near impossibility to get long lengths from these trees, especially without any kind of mill. So what can you do with short pieces? I finally found an answer to that while looking up yet more information on hardwood floors. There is a tiling method that uses a rhombus (a diamond or squashed square) and it requires small pieces of 3 different types or colors of wood. A perfect fit for what I have. You can see more information on rhombus tiling at this Wikipedia site.
Cutting up logs and turning them into 2 inch diamonds, yep a crazy idea. That's what I am going to show you how to do in this instructable.
Step 1: The chainsaw
I have worn out a lot of them, I actually prefer electrics, they are lighter, not as noisy, and turn off when you let the switch go. But for cutting these logs the way we are going to you should use a gas one. The electric just doesn't have the RPM to cut this much. You can do it but it will take you forever. I bought a new saw this summer, (Not a Craftsman) and now I have to call and get an RMA for it, it didn't last very long. So I am using my old reliable Craftsman. I didn't buy this particular saw, it was given to me because it was broken. However one of the wonderful things about craftsman is that you can get all the information and exploded diagrams on almost anything that has the Craftsman name. I dismantled it, found that it had a broken piston and ring. I ordered replacement parts from Sears and put it all back together. The thing never fails to start and I have used it for years. What can I say, it works.
One thing about chain saws to remember, the bigger they are, the more tired you get using them. You can cut all day with a medium size one and not feel that your arms are going to fall off. So unless you have really large logs and can afford an expensive saw a medium 16 or 18 inch one will work great.
I have 2 kinds of logs for this project, big ones and really big ones. Logs under 3 inches in diameter won't really work for getting finished dimensions of 2 inches. Anything over 4 or 5 inches will work pretty good for this but the way you cut the medium logs and the really big logs is different. Big logs can be cut into slabs. Since my finished size is going to be 2 inches I try and cut the slabs in 3 inch thick pieces. Small logs you can cut into two. The size you need to cut them to depends on how large a piece your band saw can handle.
A key to cutting straight is to have a sharp chain and a good bar. If some of the teeth on your chain are dull on one side it will cause your saw to cut in an arc, which means your cutting firewood and not wood for the floor
Cutting in the snow has its benefits. You can use the snow to brace the logs to keep them where you want them. And if you cut all the way through the log and into the snow it doesn't dull your chain.
A Y or fork or branching produces some of the more interesting grain patterns. Cut it straight through the center to make it manageable for your band saw. Don't try and cut from the top down straight through. The saw will wander all over. Start by cutting a line all the way down where you want your cut to go. That gives you a guide of sorts. Often when you cut like this the saw will cut out stringy wood. This is because you are cutting with the grain and rather than producing little flakes it scrapes out long strips. Much like a hand plan does. It can clog your saw so if it gets jammed up stop and clear it out. If you get to much of this shredded wood jammed around the saw sprocket it can cause your chain to fly off.