Colourised Beech Timber

A milling project we did last year revealed some beautiful Colourised Beech timber. Here is a short post about our milling of this tree.

Milling planks of Colourised Beech timber

We were asked by a customer if an old Beech tree in their front garden could be milled with our Peterson mobile sawmill. The tree needed to be felled as it was at serious risk of uprooting into the lane. A contractor felled the tree and he was able to roll the log back from the boundary edge to a place where it was possible to mill. We knew as soon as we saw the log that there was going to be some interesting timber inside. This was due to the colours revealed at the cut ends, which were caused by long term water ingress and some partial decay. As a consequence the heartwood changes from a light creamy colour to interesting reddish browns.

Beech trunk

End of Beech trunk with colourised wood


mobile sawmill Beech log

Large Beech log in garden ready for milling with mobile sawmill

We measured the dimensions of the Beech sawlog. The mid girth was just over 3 metres and it was similar in length. The tree had a low crown and this was where the water ingress occurred and had penetrated into the main trunk.

Setting up the sawmill

It was easy for us to set our sawmill around the log. We installed the skids and rails before moving the mill into place. We ran through our safety checks and were ready to start milling.

mobile sawmill Beech

Mobile sawmill setup round a large Beech log ready for milling

Milling the Beech log

Unfortunately  we hit some metal at a depth of about 3 inches soon after milling started. Consequently the metal damaged most of tungsten carbide tips on this blade. We found a pair of 4 inch nails and some barbs left in the wood, which we worked out were on the side of the tree adjacent to the lane.

nails in wood

Nails found in a Beech log whilst milling

Continue with Milling?

We could see that we were close to the main area of colourised Beech, because the grain was starting to change colour. To continue meant risking a fresh blade and our customer was okay to do that. We restarted milling after changing our blade and it was not long before we encountered beautiful patterns in the wood.


Beech decay colourised wood

Flame patterns in Beech caused by water ingress and partial decay


Colourised Beech

Beech wood with colourised patterns caused by water ingress and partial decay


Colourised Beech Heartwood

Beech wood being milled revealing colourised patterns caused by water ingress and partial decay


colourised Beech wood

Flame patterns in Beech caused by water ingress and partial decay

We were asked to mill thick boards, which after air drying and kilning will be jointed into unique table tops. We used a double cut technique to obtain 16 inch wide board for each centre board of the layers. By the time we finished the milling we had recovered seven layers of beautiful colourised Beech. Each layer having unique patterns. Fortunately we did not encounter any more metal. We stacked the sawn timber in the exact order that each layer was milled and numbered the ends.

Stacked of milled Beech timber

We stacked the milled Beech in the correct order


Beech timber

Stacked saw colourised Beech timber milled for table tops

Our customer was extremely happy with the timber we recovered from the Beech tree. We know there is always a risk of finding metal in old trees, but sometimes the risk is worth taking.