Potentially stupid woodworking question

I’d like to do some projects using twigs and small branches from my fruit trees. Is there a particular time of year that would be better to harvest this wood? How long should I let it cure before trying to work with it?

Hoping some of the woodworkers here can lend their insight on this, as I (clearly) have no experience with this sort of thing.


After the leaves drop is the time to prune. I live in San Jose, CA and I usually wait until January to prune. The prunnings will be very green and wet, you will probably need to let them dry for nearly a year before you can use them, unless you can dry them indoors with some warmer temps. - Rich


First off fruit trees are awesome to harvest wood from. Best time of year is winter once the sap isn’t flowing. You increase the chance of the bark not coming off if you harvest in the winter. A really rough rule of thumb is one year per inch of wood thickness for drying. So patience is your best friend. Depending on what you want to do with it you can work with it green or even microwave it to speed up the drying process. You run the risk of cracking and warping with the microwave though. There are some good resources for microwaving wood if you do a quick google search. Good luck and have fun.


For any wood taken from a live tree, you want to typically wait a year for the moisture to naturally leave the piece. There is some variability to the timeframe given depending on the size of the piece.

There are also other ways to speed up the process (baking in an oven or microwave can work)


yep, @Jamie had a better answer.


Yes, absolutely. Normally, you don’t want to prune off branches larger than 1-1.5" in any one year. And of course, use a good tree pruning sealer on the tree where large branches are taken ( not that awful black paint stuff). - Rich


Thanks for the insightful (and speedy!) replies all :slight_smile:

I always have a ton of small branches and twigs dropping from trees. Will start with those. Although you can’t cut, I’d think gathering small fallen branches from a local nature area may be OK. They’d already be partially dried. Definitely don’t take from outside your area to avoid insect migration. Emerald Ash Borers are devasting trees in Wisconsin. If in a park or on private land, may want to ask owners or park officials.


That was a great question and not stupid at all! I’m constantly amazed with the breadth and depth of knowledge evidenced by this group!

…but I’m still going to post this just because I’m an incurable Demotivator fan :wink::


In the northern tier of states about February would be the normal time of year to prune fruit trees. They are still dormant, but the hardest winter freezes are over. If all you’re doing is collecting twigs and small branches (and not denuding the tree) it most likely doesn’t matter.


Perfect, thank you for this info. I’m in the PNW (and Feb sounds right, now that I think about it) and it would just be twigs and small branches.

As mentioned, if you want to get to using them, drying in an oven on the lowest setting would be fine, too. I mean, it’s how a lot of lumber gets dried at the big stores, anyway!

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