I went by a friend's house and saw that a tree had been hit by lightning. I saw a beautiful yellow color on an exposed branch, and suspected this was an Osage Orange tree. My friend was a renter, and the landowners were going to cut the tree down. I wanted to recover as much as possible, but they had a tree service cut it down before I could talk with them. However, they left a three-foot section of the base and a few other shorter pieces. My son helped me recover it all.

It was about 4 ft long and heavy! My next challenge after we got it home is how to load it back up and take it to a mill.  It is very heavy and I did not possess any lifts. I spoke with a friend from church who was a cabinet maker. He said, "Why don't you stand it up and take a chainsaw to it." So that is what I did.

After I made the quartersawn cuts, I flipped it over and made cuts from the other end to meet the top ones. I had to restart the cuts to get them on track several times, so the wood had some fibers inside that were still holding on. So, it was time to roll it over and finish separating it.

I had to use a 15 lb. sledge hammer, an axe and a Sotz Monster Maul with my chainsaw to finish the job.

I just turned 64 this month (August, '19) and the heat was brutal. I had to get up early and quit by 0930 each morning. I spoke with a man yestarday and we will have it milled in two weeks. Osage Orange is a very hard wood that the Osage Indians used to make war clubs and bows. From what I've heard so far, this is not an easy wood to work with, and if left exposed to sunlight outside, the beautiful color fades. So, after milling, I will set some of it up for air drying, and make some things with some of the rest.

10/25/19 After milling the Osage Orange log, I trimmed it down. I found I had plenty of pieces to cut up for knife handle blocks and blanks. I can let them go at reasonable prices to cover my milling fees. I also have some Black Walnut.To inquire, email me morrisegraham@gmail.com.


My wife wanted a shelving unit on top of her cabinet I built five years ago in the kitchen to put some wicker baskets, a pressure cooker, and a dehydrator. I am sharing this, successes and all, with pictures and an after-action report. So, we start with a plan.

I wanted to expand my woodworking skills by using my new plunge router, which I hadn't touched since I bought it last May. Note in the design that I have several dado joints, two rabbet joints, and four dowel pin joints (not shown in drawing). So... here we go.

Above is a piece of scrap I practiced on to make my dado and rabbet joints.

This is a dado and rabbet joint in the workpiece.

I had to dry fit some of the interior not just to make sure the pieces all fit but to make sure that the outside frame was square. Shown is clamping left side and top.

Once the outside frame was glued and pinned together, I put the lower shelf in place. Note the dowel holes in the lower shelf being clamped in. The reason for this is I could not make two dado channels on the top and bottom of the same board. The design called for a divider above and below the board in the same location. The board is 3/4" thick and the dado channel is 3/8" deep: 3/8 + 3/8=3/4.

Detail picture of the dowel pins being placed in the dado grooves of the lower shelf. I left one not tapped in fully to show. I used a 3/4 board to tap the dowels in place after applying glue. I pre-drilled the dowels holes with a jig to keep the holes straight so I could use the holes themselves to keep help drill the board below straight.

Next, I clamped and glued all the rest of the dividers in place. 

I used wood putty on all the joints.

All sanded and ready to go.

After adding the backing...

After staining the piece, it's all done.

This is the piece it sets on.

Everything in place.

After-action report:

The military and police often do something called an after-action report. This is to scrutinize what may have gone wrong and what can be done better, as well as what went right.

I blew two design parameters, which could have been avoided...

A) The top shelf could have been 2" shorter, and so could the other two shelves. Had I measured the pressure cooker's height, I would have seen that. However, wife said that is not a problem because she may put something taller in the shelves. 

B) The set of shelves were to sit on another piece I build five years ago. The boards of the pieces were 1"X12", which were 3/4"X11 1/2". I used 1X10", which is only 9 1/2" wide. The pressure cooker and the dehydrator were both over 11" wide. I should have used 1"/12" for all the boards.

Concern: The pressure cooker was heavier than the wicker baskets. In retrospect, I preferred to have them on the bottom, not the top because of balance issues. The two problems had the same solution: Flip the thing upside down and add a two inch wide strip of 1" in front of the bottom shelf.

1) I nailed the backing on working from corner to corner. I should have nailed it to the center dividers and worked out to the edges to avoid "bubbling" of the backing.

2) Cutting the backing with a circular saw was overkill. It was powerful and hard to control. Next time I will use a jigsaw with a hacksaw style blade. I cut the backing too close to the right size. Better to cut it slightly oversize and sand it flush to the piece after nailing it in place.

3) Joints need to fit tighter in the dados in the future. The dados were cut exactly 3/4" and the boards fitting into them were exactly 3/4". Wood expands with humidity, so there needs to be a little looseness to the fit, but not much. They need to be able to slide in by hand without tapping with a hammer. I made a mistake of sanding the ends too much and getting too loose a fit on some joints. For this reason I would up using wood putty around the joints. Next time I intend to be careful to not over-sand the ends and get the right fit so I can avoid using wood putty. Also the wood putty does not stain the same as other wood, even though it says "stainable". If I need filler in the future, I'll mix some sawdust from the project with glue.

4) I used two different cans of black walnut stain on this, both several years old. The first can was fine, but the second one wasn't any good. I should have tested old stain or paint on a piece of scrap.

5) I got stain on the inside backing. I should have stained all the interior boards before putting on the backing. It's okay to leave the outside unstained until after the backing is nailed on and sanded flush with the outside.

I have decided the project would also have gone smoother if I had an assembly table and a clamping straight edge for cutting sheet stock. All in all, I think the use of the plunge router was a success and will be using it for other projects in the future.