I closed the question because, "Is it feasible?" is too broad and it isn't clear to me which question glw really intended to ask. As it is currently written, there can be no single objective, definitive answer. In fact, glw's conclusion is technically, "No, it isn't [easy or convenient]," by the dictionary definition (or, "No, it isn't worth the effort," by Caleb's interpretation), while bowlturner's conclusion seems to be the opposite. As I'll explain later, the title is also inconsistent with the body of the question.
feasible, adjective: possible to do
Based on the above definition, "Is it feasible?" is a silly question because we all know wood comes from trees. So there must be some additional context omitted from the question.
feasible, adjective: Possible to do easily or conveniently
If we are to use this second definition, any answers will be subjective because it isn't clear what constitutes easily or conveniently. glw's self-answer to the question opens, "Short answer: it is an enormous amount of effort but it can be done. The resulting wood can be prone to cracking." But for some reason, glw was compelled to go into great detail about the steps required to harvest usable wood from a tree or even its fallen limbs. It seems to me that much of the context included in the anecdotes of glw's answer should have been in the question instead.
If we are to use the Oxford Dictionary definition of feasible, then glw wasted an incredible amount of effort detailing the process when the first couple lines of the answer would have sufficed.
Getting beyond the technical definition of feasible, the title and body are inconsistent with one another, and there are several possible interpretations of each, some of which I've outlined below.
Here are some possible interpretations based on the title. Note that a fallen tree specifically refers to a tree that fell without being intentionally cut down--for example, it may have died and rotted, or the wind could have snapped its trunk or uprooted it. A fallen tree could also be a tree that has been dead and perhaps decomposing for a long time.
- "How does one determine whether a [naturally] fallen (not cut down, or felled) tree is likely to yield usable hardwood lumber?"
- "Is it easy to cut a [naturally] fallen tree into boards?"
- "Under what conditions does it make sense to try to harvest hardwood lumber from a [naturally] fallen tree?
- "If I find a tree that has been fallen for some indeterminate amount of time, how can I tell if it would be worth trying to mill it into lumber?"
Below are some interpretations based on the body, which refers to a tree that was intentionally cut down, or felled. Perhaps glw only intended to mention a "tree removal specialist" rather than an arborist, but the mention of an arborist implies that the tree was unhealthy. Some people may catch this detail and consider it in their answers, while others may not. The question should either omit the mention of the arborist (allowing answers to address both healthy and unhealthy trees), or it should more explicitly state that it applies only to unhealthy trees.
- "If I'm cutting down an unhealthy tree, is it easy to harvest lumber from the trunk for some future woodworking projects?
- "If I'm cutting down an unhealthy tree, under what conditions does it make sense to use the trunk in woodworking projects?
- "If I'm cutting down a tree [for any reason], is it easy to harvest wood from the trunk for some future woodworking projects?
- "If I'm cutting down a tree [for any reason], under what conditions does it make sense to use the trunk in woodworking projects?
If the question does not want to specify whether the tree has naturally fallen or whether it was felled, it should clarify that point.
Simultaneously, the question is overly-specific in one respect. Obviously it would not be feasible to harvest hardwood from a tree which does not belong to a hardwood species.
The answers posted thus far, including glw's self-answer, primarily focus on answering a completely different question, which is, "How do I harvest wood from a tree?" I suspect glw wanted to share a particular answer but did not properly frame the question with respect to that answer.
I think the question and answers, as they stand currently, are trying to address too many things all at once:
- the decision-making process for determining whether it makes sense to harvest wood from a tree
- all conditions of trees, ranging from long-since-fallen to recently-felled, and from rotten to infested to fully-intact--and also including branches which broke off a tree while the rest of the tree is still standing
- the process, from start to finish, for milling a tree into boards
Not differentiating these concerns could cause this to be treated as a general catch-all question; in turn causing many future, more specific, questions to be marked as duplicates when the answers to this question may not specifically address the nuances of the more specific questions. I've observed this problem many times on SU and have been disappointed when a very good, very specific question was summarily closed because it fell under the umbrella of a generic catch-all question. (For example, "How do I do X on Linux?" is often closed as a duplicate of, "How do I do X?" even if all the existing answers are only relevant to Windows.)
I think the question should at least be split into the following questions, each of which should be written such that it can be answered definitively and objectively:
- How do I determine whether milling a tree into lumber will be worth the time, cost, and effort?
- What is the process, from start to finish, for milling a tree into boards?