Please be careful. I am a tree farmer, and sell hardwoods to a local
sawmill. Black Cherry, white and red oak and hard maple. They export
almost all of it.
While visiting and touring thier facility, I was shown a huge vat, that
all the woods for export were dipped in, in accordance with export
laws. Can't remember the name of the chemicals used, but remember them
saying it was extremely toxic, and was all machinery handled from that
point on. This was to kill any bugs, molds, virus etc. I have no idea
of the persistance of these chemicals.
Regarding useing branches of oak trees. The white oak used for barrels
is all heart wood, very hard and dense. Small branches will contain
very little heart wood. You can however distress age hardwoods useing
freezing and heating in rapid cycles.
Best of luck to all.