Making DIY Driftwood from dead saplings? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
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Making DIY Driftwood from dead saplings?

The forest behind my house has a ton of small trees 2-4" that died, probably because lack of light from too many established trees.

I don't know how to identify tree types, but they appear to be "hardwood" (not pine). If a tree is deciduous, does that mean it is a hardwood?

If I cut and then break these down into pieces, what else do I need to do to use them in tank? Remove the bark? Soak in a water bin? boil?
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-12-2018, 05:49 PM
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Hey Chris,

I have some experience, but not a ton. I'll give this a go. :-)

Deciduous = hardwood, yes. Although to be fair, hardwood varies quite a bit in properties based on the tree, as you might expect. As for identification, the bark tells you much. Not sure where you're from but I bet there's people around you that know what types of trees are out there.

I've harvested wood for aquaria before and would just note a few things. First, some wood is not suitable as it rots extremely quickly, carries pathogens, or might actually be poisonous. Basically stick to beech, oak, cherry alder (which grows by streams where I am from).

I've boiled wood for a while in water (several hours) to help clear out pathogens and leech tanins. I've also baked it in an oven at a low temp (200, maybe?) for a half a day or so.

I hope that helps.

Good luck!
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-12-2018, 07:20 PM
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I find the hardwood /softwood idea is a bit misleading and seems to be more of a "quickie" answer than the best answer. I do a lot of wood collecting as I hike and some of it is not something I want to keep so I sell it off to the local shops. Over time, I have developed some definite thoughts on what works best with the least amount of trouble.
One biggie for me is that I do not want to deal with tannins if I can just choose wood without the problem. Whether that wood is what lumber folks call hardwood or soft is not a question to me as they both work the same, once they reach the correct point. I find I can use cedar/ juniper which is definitely in the softwood group but it has to be dead for a long time before it is good.
Part of the question always seems to be, "what kind of wood is this?" but that is going to be really, really, hard in many cases when we let the tannins clear totally. Tannin are found in the bark and the layer just under that bark. Whether we call it sap, moisture, or tannin, it will often be gone if we choose totally dry wood. But that is where the question of what species can become really difficult. To decide what type tree, we look at leaves, fruit, size and location as well as bark. Those are all going to be gone when a wood is totally dry but if we do get the totally dry stuff, the type rarely matters as there are only really rare plants which are toxic and it is often in the sap. Get rid of the sap and about all that is left is cellulose.
Point often not mentioned in the "quickie" answer is that there are some hardwood which may never work out in tanks. Walnut and pecan are two which produce fruit which stains your hands. They also have tannin which may never quit!
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-14-2018, 02:45 AM
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ive also heard if youre collecting from the ground its best to find things that have been dead for a year. even a sappling that died this past fall and went through winter can still not be ready for a tank and will take a while to water log. You might as well try what you have, boil if you can or pre soak in a tub or bin for as long as you can wait. If tannins dont bother you (easily solved by wc) and you dont have really sensitive fish why not? ive used random wood collected from banks of rivers, forest floor, apple orchards, you name it. no negative experiences thus far. I have 3 apple saplings with roots that im weathering currently on my deck, been outside about 8 months now just to make sure. rain, snow, sunshine repeat!
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-15-2018, 03:20 PM
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i'll chime in, as a FW planted noob I dont know much but have been doing tons or researching. so here are my thoughts for what ever there worth.

If you the the money and like the look of a serten type of wood and are going for a particular scape then it might be worth buying it. you know its save and what you want.

on the other hand if you enjoy "hunting and collecting" even if you have the $$ to spen on wood why not. its healthy get off the ineerwebs and go for a hike get some fresh air, take the GF/wife/kids on an adventure. find cool pieces. have fun!

one thought I had is you can scape the wood buy cutting gluing all manor of creative things,like wrap small dried roots around bigger ones.

I have tons of pine and cotton wood in my area the dried cotton wood has amazing shapes and turns perfect for plats. even tho its a hardwood but on the softer side I will be using that. yes it will root faster than say oak but chances are I will chance the aquascape in a few years anyway...
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-16-2018, 06:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by underH20garden View Post
i'll chime in, as a FW planted noob I dont know much but have been doing tons or researching. so here are my thoughts for what ever there worth.

If you the the money and like the look of a serten type of wood and are going for a particular scape then it might be worth buying it. you know its save and what you want.

on the other hand if you enjoy "hunting and collecting" even if you have the $$ to spen on wood why not. its healthy get off the ineerwebs and go for a hike get some fresh air, take the GF/wife/kids on an adventure. find cool pieces. have fun!

one thought I had is you can scape the wood buy cutting gluing all manor of creative things,like wrap small dried roots around bigger ones.

I have tons of pine and cotton wood in my area the dried cotton wood has amazing shapes and turns perfect for plats. even tho its a hardwood but on the softer side I will be using that. yes it will root faster than say oak but chances are I will chance the aquascape in a few years anyway...
This brings up a point that is not often mentioned when we speak of hardwood or softwood. The softwood will rot faster in some cases but then we need to look a little closer to get what we each may want. A piece of pine laid out in the yard will rot pretty quick, like 5 years or so, but if we put that same wood in our tank underwater it may last twice as long. Part of that is there are no bugs eating it in the tank! Wood lasts longer if termites are not eating it? So it pays to find the wood that is left up off the ground where bugs are not already working on it. Flooded areas where the wood is left hanging in trees, etc. are good hunting. The wood hangs there and weathers for a long time but not on the ground so far fewer bugs get into it. Don't fight nature, let it do the work of removing tannins.
So when deciding if I want to use a piece, part of it is how actually soft it feels. If it is soft and I can squish it now, I don't expect it to last long but if it is hard as brick and I find it hard to cut, I may use it even if it is a softwood like cedar. And most of my tanks are never set in stone so that I don't care if the wood only lasts five years. Given a choice between a free piece that lasts five years or a great piece I buy for $40 and will last forever, I go for freee.
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