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Freshly milled board thickness?

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Blog entry by Chip posted 12-13-2007 06:41 AM 2484 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Ok, I have the log and I have the sawyer but now I have a couple of questions.

First, a quick background. Last year a friend of mine cut down a huge pear tree and I missed the opportunity to get it. So when the same friend said he was cutting down another one recently I jumped at the opportunity. It’s 100+ years old and the radius is about 20”. The cut trunk is about 11’ long. The cut ends look terrific and tight grained. But before I get it milled, a couple of questions occured to me.

What is the optimum thickness I should make the boards and what formula should I use to determine this. With the trunk described above, how should I dissect this thing to its maximum potential. I have no project in mind and am aware that it has to be stickered while I monitor it with a meter. But I also know that it has to be planked now.

I would think it makes good sense to keep the boards as thick as possible, thereby maximizing my design options down the road. By this I mean, if I cut 6/4 boards now, table legs would probably be out of the question later. If I cut 12/4 boards now, just about anything is possible. Could I basically cube the thing and then just rip pieces as I need them like a hunk of cheese? I realize that would not dry properly, but what thickness does? Does it change by tree type? What deterimines how I will decide all of this? I am sure that the sawyer will have suggestions but was wondering what you LJ’s thought.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!



10 comments so far

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2904 days


#1 posted 12-13-2007 07:20 AM

Talk to treebones, He has his own mill and does this for a living. He gave me a slab of Walnut fresh from the falling, and says it needs to dry 1 year per inch. He also said that the thicker the slab, the less likely it is to warp or cup so I’d suggext cutting it into 3-4” thick slabs as wide as possible and wait for 3 years to resaw it to the thickness you want.

View Dorje's profile

Dorje

1763 posts in 2664 days


#2 posted 12-13-2007 11:06 AM

Another LJ, Daren Nelson, helped me think about my recent milling project. I cut everything to 8/4+

Also, there’s some interesting info in this topic…http://lumberjocks.com/topics/1363#reply-15060

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

765 posts in 2841 days


#3 posted 12-13-2007 03:24 PM

Chip,
If you don’t yet have projects in mind, at least you can evaluate what you’ve done in the past and what you might do in the future and make your cuts accordingly.

You could also consider building a kiln (solar, even!) or finding someone with a kiln and speed up the process.

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

View Chip's profile

Chip

1904 posts in 2760 days


#4 posted 12-13-2007 10:15 PM

Thanks guys.

I spoke with the sawyer this morning and he basically echoed what Obi said. Cut it any thickness you want but be prepared to wait the extra months (years) for drying. He also mentioned what Ethan pointed out but said that natural drying is preferred over a kiln which sometimes dries the wood out to fast and creates extra twisting, thereby kinda negating the thickness advantage I was trying to achieve. I think I’ll go the moderate route, cutting 8/4’s as Dorge mentioned and let it dry naturally.

Thank you all very much for your input.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View Karson's profile

Karson

34878 posts in 3068 days


#5 posted 12-13-2007 10:26 PM

Well I hate to change you plans. My suggestion is cutting it 5/4. With that thickness you can usually plane to 7/8” If you cut to 1” then 3.4 is about all you would get.

5/4 wood is usually very stable if stacked with weight on top.

Cutting to 8/4 and then resawing later is going to be a problem. That would make you have to resaw everything before it can be used. except legs. So if you want one thicker then by all means cut a slab thicker. But I’d cut everything else to 5/4.

I’m using a couple of pieces of cherry now that were probably cut to 2”. It dried to 1 3/4 ” it had a little bow (I didn’t dry it) and it went to 1 1/4 after planing. Too thin to resaw and too much of a hassle to plane it to 7/8. So I’m using it as is.

So I think you might not get as much usable wood as you would get if it was cut thinner.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Chip's profile

Chip

1904 posts in 2760 days


#6 posted 12-13-2007 10:32 PM

Excellent point Karson. Perhaps I will vary the size of the boards as you suggest. That makes a lot of sense to me because it gives me the best of both worlds so to speak. Thank you Don Karson (godfather to all LJ’s ;-) for your wisdom.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View Dorje's profile

Dorje

1763 posts in 2664 days


#7 posted 12-14-2007 04:31 AM

My thinking on cutting 8/4 (actually 2 3/8 to allow for shrinkage), was that the thick stock could be left as is for mantles, table tops, etc. Then, sure, stock for panels will have to be resawn, but being in the 15” wide range and cutting the edge off, it’s really doable. And, leaving it a little thicker will probably allow me to resaw and still get thicker than 3/4 stock once planed. I may be full of baloney – but I’m giving it a shot!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Karson's profile

Karson

34878 posts in 3068 days


#8 posted 12-14-2007 04:48 AM

Dorge. I don’t know what your resaw capacity is but resawing a 15’ board is not an easy process. My feeling is that the closer you get it to what your anticipated use is the better off you are. All the lumber yards that I get wood from all recomend and cut 5/4. If your needs are for thicker stuff then by all means cut it.

I have a friend that got some 2 3/8” walnut from a farmer and he took it to a woodmizer guy and he resawed it for him. The wood for my walnut shaker cabinet came from those boards. So yes it is duable, but it puts another process in the way of your completed project.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Blake's profile

Blake

3437 posts in 2541 days


#9 posted 12-14-2007 06:43 AM

You just gave me an IDEA.

-- Happy woodworking! http://www.openarmsphotography.com

View Joey's profile

Joey

275 posts in 2482 days


#10 posted 12-16-2007 07:48 AM

I know a guy that has a semi portable saw mill. It’s really too big to move very often. I get most of my cherry and walnut from him. He is a former finish carpenter, and knows how to cut what you want. He always wants me there when is cutting a log up, and I would suggest the same for you if possible. Usually I will get every board a little bigger than 4/4, but not quite 5/4. This takes into consideration shrinkage when the lumber is drying. But a few weeks ago a got him to cut the middle of the log into 12/4 slab. I’m going to make table legs from them and need the extra thickness.
Don’t forget to paint the ends of the boards. Any paint will do. This helps keep the board from splitting and you’ll notice most boards you get from lumber sellers are done that way. Also when stacking make sure you put stickers, I use 3/4 lumber and plywood, between the layers.

-- Joey, Magee, Ms http://woodnwaresms.com

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