Firewood Treasures

Sentinel Sycamore
(Platanus occidentalis)

At the edge of a field along Coppermine Road in Frederick County, MD stands a lone sentinel. It stands guard over long fallow ground within sight of the old graveyard of Grace Rocky Hill Lutheran Church. In the summer of 2000, a severe windstorm swept through the county and felled a large branch of this towering tree. A local farmer dragged the branch to the side of the road, cut it up and then left the wood to be picked up by anyone looking for free firewood. Rick Smith took him up on his unspoken offer.

Sycamore is only a moderately hard wood with a bold, beautiful ray pattern. Beneath its mottled white and green bark lies sapwood the color of cream and rich brown heartwood. Quartersawn sycamore shows a distinctive ray fleck pattern and it is hard to turn a piece that does not demonstrate this attractive feature. Artworks that incorporate both sapwood and heartwood result in a pleasing two-toned effect.

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