My friend recently had a tree die and fall over on his property. He cut it up with a chainsaw, and offered a few of the pieces to me for use in woodworking. I have never started a project with just a raw log, so I figured it would be a fun learning experience. The tree died in the winter, and it was soaked with rain water, so I put the pieces on a few bricks to keep it off the ground and covered it with plastic on rainy days, leaving it uncovered on dry days. After the rainy season was over, I removed the plastic, and left it sitting in the sun for few months. It's dry now, but badly cracked. I have a feeling it may have been cracked even before the tree even fell over, but I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has experience drying logs.
I chose one of the smaller logs and sliced off a piece with the bandsaw.
Next, I clamped a 4x4 to the bandsaw table to act as a crude fence. It's set to a little over 1" of thickness from the blade.
I jointed the exposed log face before cutting each 1" slice with the bandsaw. I then jointed the other side of each board, and also jointed one edge. I then planed each board to exactly 1" and used a table saw to square up the other side. I now have flat, square stock ready for the project. The wood had lots of cracks, but the figure was really pretty. I think this was an almond tree.
I ended up cutting the boards into 1"x1" x 12" long strips. I decided to make a napkin holder, since it was something that I could build with a small amount of wood, and would be useful. I used standard yellow wood glue and only used tape while drying -- no clamps.
I used a 1/8" radius round-over bit in my router table to smooth the edges, then sanded with 150 grit on a random orbital sander, and also did some hand sanding. I applied a Tung oil finish (my favorite finish) in a few heavily-rubbed coats.