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How to deal with sap in christmas tree trunks you want to use Answered

I had an idea to re-use the trunks of Christmas trees my neighbors are throwing away. I sawed off the thick part of the trunk and removed the branches from it. But now I have lots of oozy sap that makes the wood sticky and unpleasant. Any suggestions on what to do? If I stain it or coat in polyurethane will that prevent more sap from oozing out?

Ideally i want to slice one trunk into coasters/trivets, keeping the exterior bark intact. The other trunk might become the base for a side table or something similar. Or maybe I'll just hollow it out like a cup and use it as a pencil holder.

Thanks for your help!
Josh

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SheenaM16

6 months ago

Hey folks,
I have searched for ages before finally finding this post. I would really appreciate advice on my first wood prohect!
I have chopped tree trunks in various sizes, ranging diameter 20-30cm, height up to 50cm. I dont really know the history of the wood but i think it was left out in the rain after being cut. I have stored in my garage now. They are dry to the touch.
All trunks are seeping with Sap & the bark is starting to discolour by some form of lichen.

My aim was to use trunks as part of a shop window display. The plan was to sand the surfaces of the tops & bottoms, whilst retaining the bark. Treat the trunks with a wood preserver & primer then possibly gloss the whole trunk.

Is it at all possible the sap will stop if i do what im planning? & can the lichen be removed in order for the bark to look more attractive?

Any help & direction is greatly appreciated
Sheena

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Yonatan24SheenaM16

Reply 6 months ago

I'm guessing you cut them with a chainsaw, correct? It probably leaves a rough edge and if it's full of liquid sap it'll be impossible to sand. I think you should wait until the sap dries, then peel it off. Maybe chisel as much as you can off, and then consider hand planing or card-scraping the rest off.
See James Wright's Youtube videos for more tips and tricks, he uses card scrapers to remove epoxy from wood.

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joshme

6 years ago

Not being very patient, I decided to start my first project with the tree trunk - hollowing it out to make a pencil holder. I put the piece of trunk I was using in the oven, ~200 degrees F, laying on a piece of aluminum foil. Rotated it after 30 minutes, and after an hour I let the oven cool off (didn't take the wood out until the next morning).

That hardened some of the sap, although some of it actually oozed out more before hardening. There was still some stickiness, so I did it again, and even now there is still some stickiness, but it's a lot better! The wood did crack a little bit, but not too much. Seems like this might be my best option for drying sap. Oh, and it makes my apartment smell pine fresh!

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Josehf Murchison

6 years ago

Cut them up and soak them in a bucket or pale of water to get rid of sap and to stop shrinkage, rough wood splits as it shrinks and dries.

You might want to rethink about cutting off the branches they make good handles if you want to make a ladle or a dipper.

If you are going to cut them thin to turn them into coasters drill out the centers or as they dry the wood will split and your coasters will look like a pizza with a missing slice.

A friend of mine makes ladles spoons and cups out of old Christmas trees he keeps the wood wet until the piece is shaped then he lets the wood dry.

Joe

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joshmeJosehf Murchison

Reply 6 years ago

That's awesome, thanks Joe! The look of a cracked coaster might actually be cool. Perhaps I'll try some each way.

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Kiteman

6 years ago

I think the solution is time - you need to leave the wood somewhere to season for several months before you start using it.

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joshmeKiteman

Reply 6 years ago

Thanks Kiteman. It'll be hard to hold off using this wood, but I'll let it sit for as long as I have patience :-)

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vanweb

6 years ago

It is very hard to remove the sap, I have even has the issue on some pine boards that I bought at a lumber yard oozing sap and they were kiln dried and processed. Even sealing them in poly will probably not help as when the tempurature chages the sap will create "pockets" behind the poly and if touched or rubbed it will open like a sore...

To reuse them you can try something like a bird feeder or anything else that could be used outside....