by Eric Meier
Allowing lumber to passively sit at a given humidity level in order to obtain a desired EMC (air-drying) may be the simplest and least expensive method of seasoning wood, but it is also the very slowest. Drying times can vary significantly depending upon wood species, initial moisture level, lumber thickness, density, ambient conditions, and processing techniques.
Drying times and kilns
The traditional rule-of-thumb for air-drying lumber is to allow one year of drying time per inch of wood thickness; this adage obviously only takes a few of the aforementioned variables into account, but it’s at least a rough starting point in understanding the time investment required in order to properly air-dry lumber.
In situations where green wood is to be processed into usable boards, (especially in the case of thicker lumber), a kiln is frequently used to control the drying process. While there are various types of kilns used to dry lumber, the basic premise is usually the same: a large insulated chamber or room is used to balance and control humidity, temperature, and airflow to safely and efficiently bring wood down to an acceptable moisture content.
The main advantage of a kiln is that with the increased temperature and airflow—all while carefully maintaining and controlling the ambient humidity—the wood can be dried much more evenly, minimizing any sort of moisture gradient between the outer shell (which dries very quickly) and the inner core (which slowly equalizes moisture with the shell). Thus, a kiln is able to dry wood much more evenly, and it’s this uniformity in drying that allows it to also dry the wood quickly—simultaneously avoiding the drying defects usually associated with rapid, uneven drying.
But kiln drying may also introduce internal stresses into the wood—particularly if an improper kiln schedule is used, or if corrective measures are not employed—resulting in a condition known as case-hardening. This defect is caused when the outer shell begins to dry faster than the core: the shell tries to shrink, but is inhibited by the still-wet core. If the moisture difference between the core and the shell is too great, the shell can dry in a stretched condition. Later, as the core eventually begins to dry and shrink, the condition is reversed, and the stretched shell prohibits the core from completely shrinking. In extreme instances of case-hardening, the core can split and check in an irreversible condition called honeycombing.
Kiln drying wood at elevated temperatures also has many other secondary effects as well, such as killing powderpost beetles (a destructive wood pest) in all stages of their development. However, it can also cause some woods—such as black walnut (Juglans nigra)—to lose the vibrancy of their heartwood colors, resulting in a more uniform and/or washed-out appearance.
For most woodworkers, running their own kiln to quickly dry lumber may be impractical or excessive. In most instances, simply storing project lumber at a targeted humidity level is the best option to ensure it will be at the correct EMC when building time comes. However, in some cases, such as when processing logs or other green wood into lumber, a more meticulous procedure will need to be followed.
Home air-drying tips
Process logs in a timely fashion. If a tree has just been cut down, or there has been recent storm damage, it’s best to process the logs into lumber as quickly as possible; doing so will help to open up the wood and aid in drying, which can prevent rot or stain from marring the wood. Bark on whole logs can act as a natural moisture-barrier, and if left unsawn, can contribute to fungal decay and deterioration in some species. A hallmark of poorly processed, do-it-yourself lumber is the presence of spalted or partially rotted wood.
Cut the wood slightly oversized. Remember that wood shrinks as it dries. This, along with the material that will inevitably be lost when the boards need to be jointed/planed smooth, mean that green wood should always be cut larger than the desired finished size. (And you usually don’t need to bother jointing/planing the wood prior to drying, since it will no doubt distort at least slightly during the drying process, and the edges should be dressed after the wood has dried to EMC—an exception to this is that two surfaces of a log should be jointed level to facilitate getting even and predictable cuts on the bandsaw.)
Seal the ends. In addition to processing logs in a timely manner to prevent stain and decay due to excessive moisture, the opposite is also to be avoided: allowing the wood to dry out too quickly will result in splits and endgrain checking. It is important to remember that moisture escapes from wood about 10 to 12 times faster on the ends than through other surfaces. Sealing the endgrain forces the moisture to exit in a slower, more uniform manner. If this is neglected, the ends will tend to shrink faster than the rest of the wood, creating tremendous stresses on the piece that’s ultimately only relieved with endgrain checks—a very common drying defect. (Although there are specially formulated endgrain sealers on the market, just about anything will do in a pinch: paraffin wax, polyurethane, shellac, or even latex paint can be used to seal the endgrain surface. The key is to build up a thick, obstructing film that will inhibit moisture from escaping at the ends of the board. In order to minimize the risk of checking, it is best practice to coat lumber ends within minutes—not hours or days—after coming off the saw.
Stack and sticker. Having lumber of uniform lengths and thicknesses greatly aids and simplifies the stacking process; once a log is sawn up into planks of satisfactory dimensions, it’s crucial to stack them in such a way that they will be exposed to air on all sides—stickers are typically used for such a task. Stickers are small pieces of wood (usually about 3/4” x 1 1/2”) that are used to add space between sawn planks, which increases ventilation and aids in a more uniform drying process. Sticker spacing varies depending on the species and thickness of the lumber being dried; a conservative spacing scheme would be every 12”, though usually 16” or 24” spacing can be safely used on thicker pieces.
Add weight. Once the stack of wood is stacked and stickered properly, it’s helpful to add weight to the stack. The lumber at the bottom of the stack is probably weighed down sufficiently by the wood on top of it, but boards near the top greatly benefit from added weight. Weighing the stack of wood down helps to prevent warping or distortion, which is especially important during the initial drying phase when going from green to an ambient EMC. Neatly and properly stacking, stickering, and weighing wood will go a long way towards ensuring that the drying process will result in flat, stable, and usable lumber.
Add heat once EMC is reached. It’s important not to rush the drying process too quickly, but once a wood pile has safely reached EMC, it may be necessary (especially during humid summer months) to bring the MC down even further for a specific project. This can be as simple as moving the lumber stack from a garage or shed into a heated basement indoors. In cases where shorter pieces are used, a drying cabinet can be used to gradually reduce the MC down to 12% mc, 6% mc, or any other level that an application may call for.
A drying cabinet can be nothing more than a simple wood cabinet with an incandescent lightbulb on a dimmer to finely control the light output—which in turn dictates both internal temperature and consequently relative humidity. Many thermometers (both traditional and digital) sold by big-box retailers also feature a hygrometer with a somewhat accurate readout of the relative humidity; the ability to know the RH of both the drying cabinet and the wood shop proves to be a helpful and prudent investment.
Warp and distortion
When a wood species has a high T/R ratio, it will tend to shrink in one dimension more than another while drying, causing distortion or warp. A good way to visualize the tendencies of wood during drying and shrinking is to picture the arc of the growth rings trying to flatten themselves out. (This of course is not actually the cause of the shrinkage, but it serves as a good memory tool to help visualize dimensional changes.)
The results of uneven shrinkage vary depending upon the particular shape and grain orientation of the board; flatsawn boards become cupped, riftsawn square stock becomes diamond-shaped, and circular dowels become ovoid.
Additionally, there are a number of warping issues that can occur which are not solely related to uneven shrinkage. In certain cases, a pre-existing flaw is present in the wood itself, which is only brought out and made apparent by the drying process. This can result in defects such as: bow, crook, twist, or a combination of two or more defects simultaneously.
Regardless of the specific names that can be applied to distorted lumber, most drying-related warping issues can at least be minimized using a few simple guidelines:
Use proper stacking techniques. As mentioned previously, by far the most important deterrent to warp is the adequate stacking, stickering, and weighing of a lumber stack.
Avoid juvenile wood. Juvenile wood is wood that is formed during a tree’s early years of growth, and can be thought of as an extension of the pith. There is no officially determined width of juvenile wood, (usually excluding the first few central growth rings is sufficient), but generally, the further the wood is cut from the pith, the better. Much like the pith itself, juvenile wood is very unstable, and has an elevated rate of longitudinal shrinkage; this increased shrinkage rate pulls against the mature wood and causes it to contract and deform either along the face of the board (bow), or along the side of the board (crook).
Avoid processing branches or leaning trees. Wood that has been growing at a slant doesn’t have uniform growth ring spacing and varies from the topside to the underside. This abnormal wood is called reaction wood, and it can cause a number of unpredictable warping problems during drying. In softwoods, reaction wood forms on the underside of a branch or trunk, and is called compression wood. Conversely, in hardwoods, just the opposite is true: its reaction wood forms on the topside and is called tension wood.
Avoid knots. Simply put, knots are sections in the trunk where limbs once grew. In addition to shrinking unevenly or possibly coming loose during drying, (leaving a knothole), knots can also create areas of concentrated abnormalities in the wood grain, and consequently impact its shrinkage properties. The presence of large knots can result in dramatic and exaggerated warp during drying.
Handle spiral or interlocked grain with care. Some wood species have what is called spiral or interlocked grain. Just as the name implies, the wood fibers grow in a twisted or interlocking manner. Not surprisingly, this can result in drying problems, most commonly twist—where one of the corners of a board is raised up out of the plane of the other three corners. Careful drying, along with proper stacking, stickering, and weighing can help alleviate difficulties caused by irregular or spiral grain.
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How long should we dry the 75 millimeter thick Fraxinus excelsior timbers? What is the preparing drying schedule?
Eric, I do believe that your air drying time is off for thick timbers. I generally recommend 1 year per inch plus a year, so 2 inch timbers take 3 years, 3 inch take 4 years etc. Also, when stickering, I always recommend to my students to use the same tree (good use of limb wood, trunk wood) or same type wood to prevent staining. Also, always be sure the stickers are in a straight, vertical line. That keeps the timbers flat and the most weight available. One other suggestion is to stack the timbers in order, a flitch, makes… Read more »
Hi Eric – this was incredibly helpful! Thank you. I picked up this 14”thick by 30”diameter cedar slab the other day in the hopes of making it a natural stump looking side table. Was planning on letting it dry outside for months (maybe years) but wondering if I use a hatchet to hollow out a large crater about 7” deep and 15” across on the bottom side – would this lead to worse checking or possibly splitting the piece completely ? Or help with the drying time/overall weight? Thank you so much – anything you might be able to offer… Read more »
I recently pick up a heavy log from the beach on the east cost of South Africa. it is still wet on the inside.
I live inland in Johannesburg which is not humid at all.
how do I preserve this piece to use as a glass topped coffee table.
We cut down an English Oak (we think) a year ago. The tree trunk was cut in a log 3000mmx450mmx650mm and a plank 3000mx150mmx650mm. There is no treatment applied to date. All sides have been sanded. See photos attached. We live in South Africa (Pretoria) fairly dry not a lot of humidity here. Any recommendation on how we could dry/preserve this wood.
At this point, it is pretty heavily checked throughout. I would just embrace those flaws, and once more thoroughly dried, you could filled the gaps in with epoxy, possibly with a contrasting color if so desired.
So thankful I stumbled across this! Been looking into drying these cuban mahogany logs I have. My plan for these logs is to make display benches for Bonsai trees. The logs are halved. An idea I had was a type of drying box, you are the first indeed to mention this. One log is 7′ long, the other 5′. So I have 4, half logs. My plan was to build a 96″x 24″x 24″ box from 3/4″ plywood, line it with duct board, add sodium bicarbonate to the bottom of the box to absorb moisture. Then add a small space… Read more »
Yes, I use the incandescent bulb method all the time. For me, it’s really only a final step for wood that’s already more-or-less dry, but is stored in a location where the humidity is higher than ideal. By this time, the bulk of the drying has already been (slowly) happening, and I place the wood in the drying box with uncoated/raw endgrain — even finished components before assembly. In this way, it shouldn’t take more than a week to nudge the wood down just a little further to the proper EMC. But I’d guess that 6 to 8 inch thick… Read more »
I just “slabbed” (if you want to call it that) a 36in dia red oak trunk and produced varying thicknesses of slabs, which were very rough from the chainsaw — I then used a router sled to “flatten” to a point where I could stack. I have several thick slabs (ranging from 2-4in thick, 8 feet long 14-16 in wide) . . .Is there any value in cutting those down to smaller sections (say half the width) to speed up the drying process or is that a mistake that will render the slabs useless or cause them to cup/warp/twist more… Read more »
It might shorten the dry time a little bit to reduce the width, but generally thickness is the limiting factor. The only reason to cut width-wise would be if you had initially included the pith, which might be helpful to cut out. But at 4″ thick, it’s going to take a while to air dry properly.
hello…!I live in Turkiye … I have a two questions… 1-Is it necessary to peel the bark after cutting the tree in correct drying?
2- Is it appropriate to dry the tree in logs after cutting it? Or is it necessary to slice immediately?
thank you from now…
Generally, if the tree will end up as boards, it’s best to saw them up into rough-sawn boards as early in the drying process as possible. Not necessary to strip the bark off for drying (if sawing the log up into boards), though this can help with some species, and is generally more sanitary as it can get rid of some pests that may be present in the bark.
Thank you very much for your interest … I have read in some sources that trees such as eucalyptus should be watered after cutting and placed in the pool for 3-5 months. Is this true? If so, how should the irrigation process be done?
Kullanacak oldu?un ah?ab? a?ac? kestikten hemen sonra kestirme. A?aç mümkünse kuru bir ortamda tomruk halinde en az 1 sene dinlendirilmeli. E?er a?ac? keser kesmez biçtirirseniz çal??ma oran? iki kat fazla olacakt?r vede çatlama kaç?n?lmaz derecede çok fazla olur. ?artlar müsaitse a?ac? 1 sene tomruk halinde bekletip ondan sonra bictirilip bir daha kurutulmaya al?n?nca çal??ma ve çatlama oran? çok çok dü?ecektir.
çok te?ekkür ederim aç?klama için en az?ndan kesersemde 5-6 cm kal?nl?kta kesmeyi dü?ünüyorum … ama tomruk olarak muhafaza edebilirsem dedi?iniz gibi b?rak?r?m seneye kadar … tekrar te?ekkürler … sa?l?cakla kal?n
I live in Oklahoma, and recently had a pin oak sawn into slabs that had come down in a storm last summer. We are planning to store in the garage for even drying and keeping as flat as possible. My concern is am I attracting termites by doing so? We will remove all bark prior to stacking and storing. Any suggestions would be welcome.
We are using Queensland cypress for our gates. We have trouble with weight over 8 foot long hanging from hinges and gudgeons as our glue seems to be failing. Can you recommend an extremely strong glue for this purpose.
Our timber comes from our local sawmill so it does seem a little wet and heavy whilst working with it, maybe this is the problem? We have rails and bracing and now having to screw at the stiles for added support.
Resorcinol resin is 2-part glue often used by shipwrights for waterproof permanent bond. Requires tight fit and strong clamping.
Techniglue….a 2part gel so it doesn’t run out of joints. Very strong bonds! Can he purchased in Oz via ebay.
If I let the slabs of Eastern cedar dry and have a moisture between 6-12% do I need to still heat dry before working with. I am making signs with live edges. These are rough sawn pieces. Thank you
Assuming you can get the wood down to 6-12% MC, your job should be done. Only thing really heat would be needed for is to kill insects or other pests, but in terms of drying, should be sufficient.
Barging in here -How is that done? The heating?
Generally, most heat used in wood drying would be in a large commercial kiln, so not really something that most people would do at home. However, there are some plans online for a DIY solar kiln, which might be a feasible home option if you’re really set on using heat instead of passive air drying.
Question is alright to move white oak inside after siting Outside for a year? It’s starting to cup. It has cupped a bit. Thank you
Thank you. Just lost a massive oak and saved several pieces (3″ trunk slices) to use for tables.
Making stuff with recently fallen trees.
Red Cedar, Black Walnut.
I’ve been in the water damage restoration business for years.
Any info or advice on using dehumidification equipment to dry out chainsaw milled lumber.
Hello – just wondering if you received an answer to your question? I have a large ash tree I’m about to mill with chainsaw and was thinking of drying in a garage with a dehumidifier. Any information you have would be appreciated. Thanks, John
i have a mature Prunus Avium that for safety reasons (position )has to come down what is the best way to store the wood for drying out i want to keep some big pieces of stem to make a bench with a back, and others to make bols ect.
Thank you, great basic info, as I thought there is much more than simply just “dry” wood. Lots more details to learn.
I have a Holly tree that has a 24 inch circumference and an almost clear trunk of 6 feet high. It needs to come down as it is too close to the house . I would like to make a solid body electric guitar out of it. What thickness planks would I need to start with if the finished product is to be 1.75″ thick for the body and 3-1/2″ thick for the neck?
Length x Width of body: 20.500″ x 13.875″ (520.7 mm x 352.4 mm)
Thickness: 1.750″ (44.5 mm)
Thanks for any help you can provide
Hi, came across your question. Usual practice is to leave at least one quarter inch per face for shrinkage and later dimensioning, so you need 1/2 inch thicker. However, bear in mind holly can be a right bugger drying and you will almost certainly find knots in profusion from growth earlier in the tree’s life before the clear trunk formed. Twists and pockets forming around knots is common with holly. I’d think about cutting out strips from your eventual dry timber, skirting the blemishes and laminating up the guitar from this plus another timber. The grain of holly is nothing… Read more »
Thanks Ian, I expect to do just that, strips instead of planks in about 3 years time. Thanks for the drying info. C
Well , I have cut it down and milled it into 5 foot, 2 usable 2.5 inch thick planks and two outer planks that are about 1.5 inch each, lots of cool looking dark brown knots in very white wood, looking forward to watching it dry
I have milled Ash logs 5”X5” in lengths of 8, 12 and 16 feet to be used for a small cabin.Can I air dry these outside with the same sticker and stacking system as 1” thick lumber or should I use a different system and how long should they dry?
I have acquired 1000 board feet of Malave hard wood which is 6’x2″x12″. It’s literally coming right out of the jungle to be delivered in a week or two. The intended use is for hard wood floors so I will have the 2″ pieces split to 1″ upon arrival. I have a concrete room I can seal off with plastic on one side. Will then cut and seal the ends. Sticker and stack with 1 dehumidifier and 2 box fans to move air. I am getting a pin type humidity probe and wireless temperature and humidity sensor. We are in… Read more »
Hello, I inherited a garage full of miscellaneous wood from a fellow who had a custom furniture shop. There are a lot of ash strips that he used for the edges of plywood shelves. I have been gluing the strips together to make very nice cutting/chopping boards. I have been reading recently that ash doesn’t make very good cutting boards because of the “open” grain, but I really like these boards. Using the data you present for wood species, how do I determine if a particular wood is open grained and unsuitable for cutting boards? The benchmark cutting board wood… Read more »
Yes, I’ve always thought of the term “closed grain” is somewhat of a misnomer, as technically all woods are “open” to an extent–that’s how sap and other nutrients are transported through the tree trunk. But really the best metric for finding suitability is found in pore size. Maple has pores that are just small enough to cause them to become plugged up with sawdust during the building phase. So when a finish is applied, the surface of the wood seems smooth (it is smooth, but only because the small pores have been jammed with sawdust). With woods like ash, oak,… Read more »
John Richie: You could do a simple search on Google, Just ask Google if ash or whatever wood types you are wanting to use are suitable for cutting/chopping boards. I make cutting boards too and sometimes I am lucky enough to inherit small slabs of walnut and maple from people in my local neighbourhood, usually from people who don’t make cutting boards. I am a member of a very busy cutting board forum on Facebook which has thousands of members and who are all very helpful, it is called “Cutting Board Hobbyiests” you can learn a lot on this forum… Read more »
Hello, today a >10years Maple tree downed by Isaias hurricane (NY) was cute by the Park & Recreational Dept. We asked to keep some pieces for future furniture project-Tree stump side tables. It’s our first time acclimating/seasoning from the very beginning of the process and with this size of wood logs… we live in the basement, have access to the house garage (landlord storage) and open garden. Currently our area in Queens, NY, is under a heat/rain showers wave (81/69-88/74F). Please advice to treat humidity, drying, and stacking. Thank you.
I was given a walnut log by a friend that I had milled to 6′ x 5″ x 7″ to be used as a mantle above a fireplace. My local sawmill told me it’s too large for a kiln so I am curious how long I need to air dry it. Much of what I see on-line are air-drying directions for traditionally-sized boards in order to use the walnut for fine furniture. For what I need–just a rectangle hanging on the wall–how short an air-dry time can I get away with? Thanks!
Are you going to do a more refined finish, like a glossy, pore filled finish? Or are you going for a more rustic or rough-sawn look? If it’s the former, you could be waiting for several years, but if the latter, it depends. It think you should probably get a wood moisture meter if you don’t already have one, or at least regularly weigh the wood to see how things are progressing.
Thanks Eric. Very helpful. Should I have it outside (sheltered from rain/snow) or is my uninsulated garage OK? In the sun? Shade? I’m in New England so would it be good to bring it in the house during the winter or should it stay outside?
I wouldn’t bring it indoors anytime soon, though a garage should be okay. Definitely keep it out of the sun. Cold temperatures shouldn’t have any negative effect.
I just cut a lot of cherry. It’s my first time attempting to dry this volume of wood. I (very) rough cut the logs with my chainsaw. Thickness is very uneven throughout the boards, and frankly, some have bulges and some are wedge shaped. Should I plane the boards for uniform thickness before stacking?
Yes definitely. When you stack on stickers and have a lot of variance in thickness. The thinner parts aren’t touching a sticker on the top side. Leaves room for movement and warping. Green would does not like to feed in a planer. Might have to live the bed with wd-40.
Thought I read somewhere that wood stickers should be of same species as wood being dried …
I want to cut some Larch trees about 15” x 15-20’ to use as porch posts on my log cabin. How much shrinkage should I expect ? If I want a 15” log how big does the green size have to be? I am going to debark and paint the ends immediately and stack them with stickers 16” to space them for drying, I’m drying them in a pole barn, how long will it take them to dry?
A lot of hardwoods shrink about 7%. Length does not shrink near as much. I’m not familiar with larch. But most species would take years to dry that size. I would wait 1 year and hope for the best.
I love in Oregon. They cut down my grandfathers old oak tree on Friday. They delivered five slabs cut from the trunk. They are approximately five feet in diameter and approximately six inches deep. Too heavy to move them. We did stack them on wood to get them off the asphalt and between layers. It’s winter here so the sun won’t really shine. How do I process these?
Hello Nancy cd you please share a photo? Thankyou
A recent storm just brought down a 75+ year old (dying) mulberry in my yard. I am interested in using the wood for projects (nothing specific yet). What’s the best course of action to harvest this wood?
Get it cut, seal the cut ends, slab it with a chainsaw or split it into whatever size is manageable, raise it off the ground, and get it stacked and stickered in a windy, shaded spot with some kind of cover over the top. Do it as soon as possible because the tree was already dying/dead and rot and decay will set in within days to a couple weeks with direct contact with the ground, even though mulberry is very rot-resistant.
In Iran and the region Mulberry is exclusively saved and used to build string musical instruments: Taar, Setaar and Tanbur ( Tambur )
STICKER STAINS…. I had a green Walnut tree sawn into 2” live edge slabs. I air dried them inside my pole barn using 3/4 x 1 1/2 red cedar stickers. I found that while sanding then applying topcoat there is a faint line where the sticker was. I had to sand off finish and sand deeper than desired. Any ideas on an alternative choice of sticker material?
I use 3/4 x 3/4 poplar stickers. They won’t stain any wood. I place them on 12″ centers and put a 4×4 cant on top with 2″ ratchet straps on 3′ centers. The stack is dead flat.
Im new to this all. And now, after waxing up these discs, I’m reading bark on is a bad idea for what may turn out to be coffee tables (that is if I dont break them first lol). I’m assuming once its waxed cant take the bark off? Or should I just give it a shot and see what happens. Also, should I dry these babies out before putting on legs? I’ve watched so many things on YouTube it makes.my head spin. Here are some pictures. It’s a maple tree (Norway or Canadian, not sure. The arborist told me different… Read more »
These are sections and will dry with high stress. After time, say 6 months to a year, the wood will suddenly split from the edge to the center in one place, leaving what looks like a wedge defect. This is due to the circumrferential shrinkage (tangential) being greater than the radial shrinkage. There are two fixes. You can saw the blank in half, then dry it down, then resaw the two pieces which will develop a convex angle of a degree or two along the cut surface. Alternatively, a chemical treatment to keep moisture in the wood can be used.… Read more »
Steve thank you. It’s only been a week or two, after applying some wax, and it’s starting to split and develop mold. Yikes. Maybe I need to wipe off the wax and let the sun do its job. Any suggestions?
I would keep it out of the weather, the sun will just bleach it. Put it in your garage or somewhere dry and put a fan on it to help discourage any more mold growth.
Pour denatured alcohol onto the surface of the pieces and let it flow trough to the bottom side. Wood is like a million tiny straws when cut into discs, this will force the moisture out. If you have a pan big enough you can catch the alcohol as it comes through an reuse. I made about 100 oak disks out of green wood and used this method I only had 1 crack.
I’m curious, what diameter and thickness were the wood disks you were drying? Sounds like that worked fantastic with those!
I have someone offering for sale some raw ( never stained or varnished) hardwood flooring that has been stored in his garage for years ( 10 plus). He says some is cherry and some is black walnut. He got it from a flooring company that went out of business. Pieces are variable lengths but is 3/4″ thick x 3 1/4″ wide. My cabinet maker told me to stay away from it as it will likely be too high in moisture and will distort after installing it on my floor. I live in London,Ontario Canada. High humidity. What is your opinion.… Read more »
If it has truly been stored for 10 years, it should be dry. I wouldn’t take anything for granted though. Maybe just bring a moisture meter along and test some of the middle/inside boards in the stack to see what moisture level they’re at. Also a good idea, if you do end up getting them, to let them acclimate to your humidity level indoors for a while in the same location where they will be installed. Best time to do all this is in a drier time of year such as fall.
It sounds like your cabinet maker wants that wood.
How long does the powder post beetle larvae live in air dried wood that is about 3 inches thick, 2 feet
wide and 4 feet long, the wood is sycamore.
I will be air drying a disc of white ash recently cut. It is 3 feet in diameter and at least a foot thick. That is, cut right across the trunk of a huge tree killed by Emerald Ash Borer. (Here, only White Ash could be that big.)
I bought a square metal outdoor fireplace box to use as a drying stand. I can shade it with an old table-tennis table I use outdoors. Will this work?
I just had a bunch of hickory sawn down into 2.5″ slabs roughly. 2ft + X 10ft. They are in a uninsulated garage with a fan moving some air. The problem that I am having are the slabs are starting to spilt at ends. I never painted or sealed ends. If I cut and seal ends will this help? Do I turn off fan to let them just dry slower?
Anytime you attempt to just air-dry wood without sealing the ends, you’re asking for trouble. I would both cut and seal the ends and turn off the fan. You can stack the wood in a more “open” configuration to allow natural/passive air flow throughout the wood stack.
Hello I want to cut oak trees (northern California) and use the tree trunk together with the bark to build a bed frame. Any suggestions how to dry the wood to keep the bark on and prevent mould ? Thanks for any recommendation.
Great ambition to leave the bark on the wood, but that adds exponential difficulties to your finished product. Even if the wood is dried, cured, treated, prepared, set up in your home, then what will happen when the bark gets “bonked?” Even if you seal the bark with urethane, chunks of bark will fall off when impacted. Bark on looks great for synthetic wood-looking displays at restaurants and outdoor living stores, but my advice is to keep away from leaving the bark on. Bark on inhibits mold, mildew, critter infestation, and compromised wood integrity; when the tree was “alive” then… Read more »
I have roughly 1.5″ thick cookies about 12″ wide. Hoping to preserve the bark, and prevent cracking as much as possible. Some have frozen sections (Canadian winters are fun). Would you suggest soaking in pentacryl (once thawed out), stacking and drying, or just painting it on almost like poly throughout the drying process? – Thanks!
I have imported Peruvian walnut slabs from Honduras. They are 3 inch thick and kiln dried aggressively for 3 weeks. A very short time, I know. Unwisely, I had relied on local expertise. Upon completion the slabs registered 6% MC. Once shipped and delivered and after checking a small sample, the MC inside was much higher and checking was visible. What are my options? Is there any comeback? Should I just leave them out to continue drying or should I find a kiln that can properly finish the job or is it now firewood? In the future I think I… Read more »
Hey Larry, I live in Honduras. If you´re getting your wood in Olancho, best thing is to get it sawn (even quatersawn) as soon as you cut it. Dry it slow, keep the humidity high enough so that the outside of the wood doesn´t dry too fast. This is really beautiful stuff–I like it even more than american black walnut. Regarding the pile that you have, you might want to cut a foot or two of the ends and dry it all as slowly as you can, though in all honesty, this is a very stable wood. All the best… Read more »
I had a small tornado hit my place and knocked down alot of trees cedar, oak,hickory ,walnut ect i want to mill the cedar into 1 inch boards and Shiplap side my house I have a big shop area with a wood stove In it my question is how long will it take the cedar to dry and what is the optimal temp to keep the shop while drying??
Mixed blessing with all that lumber; cedar is a softwood which will be surprisingly light once fully dried, which a 1″ board will take less than 1 year, however cedar has so many knots and grain curve that your dried finished pieces likely will all have natural twists and bends to it. That is one reason for high use of cedar shakes rather than timbers. If you can be flexible regarding exposure of each siding piece, then you can easily overlap each cedar piece according to its natural curves (and your aesthetic will be a rustic, great look to it!).… Read more »
I recently cut 4 white paper birch trees to use as braces from my cabin’s gable end to the loft approximately 10-12 feet. The poles will not support anything, just brace the outer wall from movement when the patio door is closed and add aesthetic value to the open area. The trees will remain intact with the bark. How do I dry these birch poles to ensure they do not rot and the bark stays put? Thank you.
Curious if you ever got a good answer on this anywhere, Doug?
I have a question… My husband has been drying out wood for a few years and I am trying to have a wall created (similar to shiplack but not tight or finished) just propped that way on the wall for storage purposes.
Will it damage the wood at all to put it on it side like this? It will still get air. It will just be stored on its thin side and not wide side. Does this make sense?
Great article – I have a question. I cut some rounds and some 45 degree slabs from a black cherry to make cutting boards. Do you think i can apply salad bowl finish right away to reduce any cracking and splitting? I was wondering if applying the finish would displace the moisture and then i could sand them down when a bit drier.
Did you find a solution to this? I’m working on the same thing, and looking for some answers on this specifically.
Did u ever get an answer to ur question about ur blk. cherry tree? I’m wanting to know the same thing for my blk.cherry tree limb.
I am remodeling my house and bought red oak retreads for my steps and they are 1 inch thick. I double coated the topside (not the underside) with polyurethane and left them in the garage (about3 weeks ). Unfortunately the all occurred during prolonged periods of rain and they cupped upward. The installer cannot use them. I am looking to salvage the retreads if at all possible. Can I use a kiln to dry out the retreads and will they straighten out? Is there any advice that anyone can offer to help me out of this expensive error. I was… Read more »
Ouch, that sounds like a very unfortunate turn of events! It’s been my experience that cupped boards can be pretty hard to straighten back out. I do not believe that simply drying them (or otherwise adjusting the moisture content) will be the standalone solution. You might try a combination of weight and lowering moisture content. Maybe someone else can chime in with better ideas.
While traveling the Great Lakes, I visited a colonial style boat building display. They were using a homemade steam box to heat the wood to allow it to be bent around the bow of the boat. Would it be possible to steam the boards, the lay them on a flat surface with good stripping and weight on the top to force them back straight?
Might salvage by planing thinner or squaring up 2-inch strips and edge-gluing. Not a bad look and done historically for more stable surface. Really, once boards have dried to a certain shape, they have taken on a “set”, which cannot be much reversed by adding or subtracting moisture in some way. If in early stages, maybe a little, but once cell walls harden up, can’t really plump them up again. A good experiment is to take a thin, partially-seasoned, plain-sawn Pine board, throw it on a moist lawn on sunny day and see how fast it cups. Turn it over… Read more »
Cut the boards into 2 in strips alternate the cup and glue back together. Run through a planner/jointer when your done. Lots of work but the only way to eliminate cup.
Honestly I would advise getting them as wet as possible then weighing them down heavy and letting them dry, steaming would be most effective followed by weight. I’ve straightened tons of wood up to 2 inches thick by soaking then then re drying with weight.
What does “EMC” mean? “Eric Meier Cured”? :)
I’m sure I can find a definition elsewhere but it would be good to define it when it is first used.
Equilibrium moisture content.
At what mc can I do the heat treatment? Looked all over and can’t find this info. I only mill Burl and usually a/d but just started kiln drying to kill powder post beetle. My first batch is down to 8% and the larger turning blanks are at around 12%. I don’t need it any dryer and in a rush for the next load. I work exclusively with madrone/big leaf maple Burl. I should note most of this Burl is air dried in the whole from 3yrs-40yrs, it’s very stable but I worry that the high heat may be harmful… Read more »
I just picked up 4 , 6 x 6 posts 10 foot long to replace front porch pillars. Green treated. 2 are very wet. What is the best way to dry these before use?
Do you mean its Pressure treated and it’s wet? this article is in reference to green lumber that’s been cut from a recently live tree. “green” is usually used in reference to Pressure treated in home construction. If so, leave that bad boy in the sun for an hour or so, the slime will dry off quick, just be sure to install them not long after.
What would you recommend for drying roughed out green Bowls that I’ve turned on my lathe?
Drying bowls is a different process than flat slabs of wood. I’ve always used the double paper bag method. Keep rough turned bowl inside a paper bag (or double bag for sensitive species) and then weigh it intermittently until the piece stops loosing (water) weight. After that, it should be ready for final turning.
Several good schools o f thought here – I turn wet Cherry to the finished dim and shape then use planer chips from a hardwood (Walnut) pack the piece tightly in these shavings in a paper bag and inspect a month later. Uaually I win! Don’t cheat, wait a full month plus!
I have some large Black walnut trees in my yard & occasionally they lose limbs of big enough size to have what I would consider usable material. Meaning if the bark were removed I would still have a piece with a minimum Diameter of 4″ I am just a hobbyist but would like to make some Pistol grips or even gun stocks with some of this lumber. I am certain I haven’t dried it out properly over the years as I just kinda piled it up out of the way. But this year there have been some bigger limbs coming… Read more »
I believe that kiln drying walnut actually causes some colors to be lost, your best bet, with regards to color, is to air dry the material. Walnut color is highly variable depending on growing conditions. Are you sure that the other stuff that you’ve used was heartwood? Sapwood is a pale gray color and can take up at least a few inches of the outer edge of the stem.
Has any one else dried wood in a microwave? I play with a lathe and have have had good luck cooking small raw pieces. Red cedar scents the shop kitchen too.
I will be sawing beams from sourthern pine for timber frame . 6×8- 6×10 . Up to 30ft . Have dehumidifier room set up for short lumber up to 10’ what would be the best plane of attack to bring this size timber down to a workable moisture level ?
im planning to purchase rough cut bunya pine to build a furniture piece which will be stained eventually, would i need to let it dry or acclimatise? any information is greatly appreciated
We are currently slabbing Norfolk pine and we’re wondering what the recommended drying time for the slabs would be? They’re 2.5 inches thick, 2 metres long 900 wide
A year for each inch in thickness is the standard drying time for all timber. But it will depend on were it is to be used as to the target mosture content around 11% for internal use and 15%- 20% for use outside.
Hey there Steven. Just wondering what saw was used to slice cut the tree?
Great job there. Am slabbing up some European pine here in Newcastle NSW at the moment. Easier to slice through than Ironbark!.
I just bought rough cut lumber to build a wall in my basement is there anything I need to do to prepare it
good thing would be to acclimate them for a week or so in the room where they are going to be used
How to home dry fresh planks with crusty bark? Seal ends with something?
I just got 2 8 ft long planks of wood with crusty bark on the edges. I’d like to preserve the bark. Should I seal the ends with something while it dries?
I plan slow on drying it in my house and then making shelves with the wood. Any other advice about drying or working with these planks is appreciated. is appreciated.
Hi. I recently acquired two dozen or so logs of silver maple. I sealed the ends with end grain dealer within about 24 hours of them being cut down. I’d like to turn them into wood turning blanks for bowls and other various projects but don’t have time yet to cut them down or turn them. Do you think the logs will be alright stored in my garage for a few weeks/months in log form before I can get to them all with a chainsaw?