Sap leaking from tap hole.

Sap leaking from tap hole.

Sap leaking from the tap hole.

Sap leaking from the tap hole.

“Tap-tap-tap-tunk”, that’s how it was described to me by my friend Jim about what sound to listen for when hammering the taps into the trees. I remember last year on a wet snowy day, I was helping him tap the trees in front of his house. This was my first experience in the sap collection work. He gave me a drill, hammer and a few taps and showed me where to place the hole, angled up into the tree so the sap runs out, and then how hard to hammer the taps in.

He said to listen for that change in sound when tapping the taps into the hole. If you hear the “Tunk” then stop, don’t hammer anymore! If you do then the hole will split ever so slightly and then the sap leaks out. Well, I did remember those words this year, but  I was so sure that the taps weren’t seated firmly enough. So I went and tapped a few more times, just to be sure. You can see for yourselves the result.

It reminds me of a good proverb that my son actually just memorized: “Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention, that you may gain understanding”


So far I have obtained the needed equipment to collect the sap. I have the hoses and about 10 5- gallon buckets and all the taps and “T”‘s. A friend of mine who I am going to use for boiling the sap lent me the hoses and taps. My wife went around calling the local restaraunts and food service places and got a bunch of free buckets that I  picked up.

I washed the buckets and boiled the taps and tees and cleaned out all the tubing with soap and again with a little bleach. Now I am just awaiting permission to tap my neighbors trees. I went for a wal with my boy, Charles, and found some really nice maples on field edges and creek bottoms. I am careful to not ask for permission to tap maples in woodlots as those would be considered premium lumber trees.

The time has come. The Maples are flowing! It actually has come a bit early this year. I have been wanting to start collecting sap for Maple syrup for some time now. And now that my oldest boy is old enough to really appreciate it and help somewhat (2 1/5 yrs old), I will start with him this year..

I am planning on tapping only a few trees and am going to use hosing to a 5 gallon plastic bucket that will sat at the base of the tree. I will try to find one near our house and maybe a few on the way to work. I will than take all the sap to one of my coworkers and put it in his pickup. He will then take it to his sugar shack and boil it down with the rest of his sap. He has quite the system in place already. The deal is, for every 40 gallons of sap I collect, I get a half gallon of syrup back. You see it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. So I get half the product because I am counting on them to boil it down and put it in containers.

The above photo is a photo I borrowed of a sugar shack that my friend has. This one looks just like it. Its kinda set out in the woods. It has quite a nifty boiler in it and just enough room for some folks to sit around and have a good time keeping watch over the forming syrup.

I am very excited about it. Now that the days are a bit above freezing and the nights are below freezing, and its only early February….this might make for a good long season! I cant think of many better things than walking through the big woods with your boy, tappin’ trees for sap!

I’ll post pics of our progress!


I was in Alabama this past week for a great reunion of brothers and sisters in Christ. During this trip I got into an interesting conversation about a new method of obtaining old growth lumber without chopping down the old growth that is still living.

You see, back in the 1800’s they would cut down trees, cut off the branches and then drag them, or rail them to the nearest river. Then these logs would float their way to larger mills down river in the bigger cities. The logs had markings on them of the companies that did the cutting so that compensation could be made to the correct company. As the logs floated, some got water logged and sank to the bottom. Theres no telling how many logs are still deep under the currents of many of our large, and mid sized rivers. These logs are amazingly preserved.

Another kind of old growth timbering is that of harvesting forests that were flooded by dams. There are many forests that have been under water for 50-100 years due to the construction of dams across North America. There are special saws that are lowered into the water and clamp onto these forgotten trees and cut them cleanly. So far it seems to be a win-win situation environmentally. Here is a link of interest for this type of timbering. And another with photos.

Businesses have grown from this sort of specialty of diving for old growth. The lumber and end products from these logs are quite expensive. The advantage is that alot of thse logs are so large that you can mill very wide planks from them. This is advantageous to many woodworking projects. It certainly has caused me to raise an eyebrow in interest.