First State Woodturners Salvage Large Persimmon Tree

A Wilmington home owner contacted us regarding a large persimmon tree that came down on his property during a recent storm. He offered us the opportunity to salvage and re-purpose some of the wood from the tree. (Thanks Pete!)

Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is a member of the ebony genus and is typically prized by woodturners. So a few of us took our chainsaws and gear late one afternoon and went to cut up the tree.

Persimmon tree down from recent storm
Persimmon tree down from recent storm

Upon arrival, it became apparent that we may have been in a little over our heads – this tree was BIG. Also, as you can see in the above photo, the main trunk wasn’t completely on the ground. Cutting it would be tricky since it was under tension. So we first went to work on the largest branch, and quickly had quite a few blanks cut – enough to fill Tom’s small pick-up truck. Before calling it quits for the evening, I decided to try to up-cut through the main trunk to try to get it down on the ground. It took awhile – my 18″ bar wasn’t long enough so I had to keep going back and forth, cutting from one side then the other – but I finally got through and the trunk dropped to the ground. Now that it was on the ground, I moved up about two feet to try to cut through again. I managed to get about 2/3 of the way through, but my bar kept over-heating so we decided to call it a day.

Determined to get a slice of that trunk, I returned a couple days later. This time I was able to finish the cut and free the section (shown below), which I then set about cutting into rough turning blanks.

Persimmon tree trunk


As you can see, unlike other members of the ebony family, persimmon wood is very light, nearly white. Here are the four blanks cut from the above piece after I got them home:

Persimmon slabs


And here they are stacked up on my lathe after cutting round on the bandsaw:

Persimmon blank


We’ll be sharing this persimmon with other Club members at the August meeting. I’ll post more photos after we turn some of this lovely wood. Here’s a teaser – I’ve already started on a couple of those blanks:

Turning a natural-edge bowl from large persimmon blank
Turning a natural-edge bowl from large persimmon blank