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Is cutting wet lumber smaller better for drying

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Forum topic by abehil posted 09-10-2015 06:59 PM 1206 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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abehil

104 posts in 804 days


09-10-2015 06:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: drying cedar loose tenon question

Question 1:
For the purposes of making occasional patio tables, If I cut cedar lumber into smaller pieces (I need to do that eventually anyway) will they dry faster? And/or will they be more inclined not to warp or check because of being smaller, shorter?
I’m in an area of higher humidity 65% in summer to 80% to 90% in mid winter and temperatures peak out around 80F during summer down to around 50F in winter.

What I’ve done so far:
I bought clear cedar boards (non-appearance type) available from big box store and also a cedar mill nearby. Boards from both sources seem to have the same wetness level.

I stored some boards vertically with ends just sitting on my garage floor for several months from about April to June. For the most part they didn’t warp, those that did had some small cupping over the 6’ length. I cut them down to about 20” pieces which were all pretty straight and then I planed them to 1/2” thickness.
The legs are made by gluing 4 boards together and planing them to uniform thickness, beveling 2 sides and rounding off edges.
With fall coming I’ll be seeing higher humidity here and I’d like to have a plan for drying lumber out or I’m concerned it might take forever.

In case it helps, this is what I made so far. All loose tenons except for 8 pocket screws to attach aprons to tops.


18 replies so far

View OggieOglethorpe's profile

OggieOglethorpe

1213 posts in 1575 days


#1 posted 09-10-2015 07:29 PM

The more wood you expose to air closer to finished size, the faster it will equalize.

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4169 posts in 3207 days


#2 posted 09-10-2015 07:44 PM

Somewhat – the limiting factor is more on the thickness, than the time for water to exit the ends of the boards.
So cutting boards down from 8 feet to 2-3 feet for the benches, will still mostly be drivin by the thickness and stickering.
You will get less yield because you still lose an inch or two on the ends to checking.

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

View Yonak's profile

Yonak

979 posts in 986 days


#3 posted 09-10-2015 08:59 PM

I would say they would dry faster, considering that boards lose moisture most easily from the ends. Control the rate of moisture loss from the ends to help prevent checking and create good air flow across the middle of the boards.

Devise a way to hold the boards’ shape so they don’t warp. Usually this is done with the weight of stacked lumber, but with shorter boards, another way may need to be found, such as, perhaps, clamping.

Cedar normally dries fairly quickly so, with aggressive methods, it may not take very long to get dry boards. Use a moisture meter and please report back as to how long it took to get dry for the education of your fellow woodworkers (such as me).

For common reference, usually work is not done on boards, such as final planing or gluing, until they are dry. Otherwise, surprises are likely. The good thing is, since your area has a rather high relative humidity level and, since these benches are meant for outdoor use, the wood could be at a normal ambient moisture level already. What’s the moisture content ?

View Ghidrah's profile

Ghidrah

667 posts in 687 days


#4 posted 09-11-2015 01:41 AM

Agree with DrDirt each species looses moisture at a specific rate under existing conditions, board “L” isn’t as important as “W&H”. True capillary action allows the last 1 to 2” of the ends to absorb and expel moisture faster to a point then it drops off.

-- I meant to do that!

View Joseph Jossem's profile

Joseph Jossem

492 posts in 1733 days


#5 posted 09-11-2015 01:53 AM

I cut at 1” smallest any smaller will be harder to dry straight warps easily

View SSG's profile

SSG

39 posts in 1548 days


#6 posted 09-11-2015 02:04 AM



Somewhat – the limiting factor is more on the thickness, than the time for water to exit the ends of the boards.
So cutting boards down from 8 feet to 2-3 feet for the benches, will still mostly be drivin by the thickness and stickering.
You will get less yield because you still lose an inch or two on the ends to checking.

- DrDirt


I agree with what Dr Dirt said as well, but to elaborate more I would like to point out that using stickers that are all = to each other helps stabilize your wet lumber. Ruff sawn lumber does not dry as well as finished lumber, I’m not telling you to plain everything down to 3/4 and then dry, but planing a 5/4 board into a 4/4 board will help your final product dry more evenly. Stack your lumber horizontally, and I would also suggest placing the stickers about 16” apart and as close to the ends as possible. Usually the stickers will slow the checking. Use anchorseal on the ends, and put something heavy on top of your sticker-ed lumber to keep even pressure so that your lumber has minimal twist. Good luck!

View abehil's profile

abehil

104 posts in 804 days


#7 posted 09-14-2015 05:22 PM



I would say they would dry faster, considering that boards lose moisture most easily from the ends. Control the rate of moisture loss from the ends to help prevent checking and create good air flow across the middle of the boards.
...snip…
For common reference, usually work is not done on boards, such as final planing or gluing, until they are dry. Otherwise, surprises are likely. The good thing is, since your area has a rather high relative humidity level and, since these benches are meant for outdoor use, the wood could be at a normal ambient moisture level already. What s the moisture content ?

- Yonak

The more recent boards have 17% moisture. Some others have 11% – 12%. I also checked some I’ve had for quite a while at 11%. I checked a table I made from the prior batch and the top boards are 11% but the legs are testing at 15% near the middle. The legs are 4 top boards glued together. I used Titebond 3.

Question: What moisture content is low enough for good glueing? Is Titebond 3 waterproof enough in case the tables were hosed off to wash them clean?

View nashley's profile

nashley

46 posts in 743 days


#8 posted 09-14-2015 05:44 PM

I got this information directly from the manufacturer’s website. It is a waterproof glue and is recommended for both indoor and outdoor use. In order to know if this is “waterproof enough” you would probably need to look into the ANSI/HPVA Type I water-resistance specification that this glue meets. Hope this helps.

http://www.titebond.com/product.aspx?id=e8d40b45-0ab3-49f7-8a9c-b53970f736af

-- Nathan

View markf's profile

markf

28 posts in 448 days


#9 posted 09-19-2015 05:45 AM

I don’t know what’s recommended for a final MC before you start milling but if you want to cut shorter, coat the ends with a wax or something wax-like to keep the ends from bleeding out too quickly and checking. Once I have my stack all stickered and spaced I cinch it down with ratchet straps. They usually take a click or two of tightening every morning.

View markf's profile

markf

28 posts in 448 days


#10 posted 09-19-2015 05:46 AM

Nice tables btw

View abehil's profile

abehil

104 posts in 804 days


#11 posted 10-25-2015 08:53 PM

Thank you. These were my introduction to loose tenon. I built a mortising machine to cut the slots.
Here is a pre-glue fitting.


Nice tables btw

- markf


View abehil's profile

abehil

104 posts in 804 days


#12 posted 10-25-2015 09:10 PM

Here is an update. Thanks for the help so far.

I bought some fence boards, cherry picking those without knots from the local HD. They sat leaning up against the wall for a couple weeks while I tried to figure out how to deal with them after cutting up for drying. As soon as I brought them home I lightly painted the ends with Thompsons water seal which is the only thing I have on hand.

I cut them (Oct 15) into pieces 1/2” longer than needed and also lightly painted the cut ends with Thompsons. I read about stickering so I cut a basket full of small 1/2” tall sticks and stacked the pieces up.

Moisture reading at the time of cutting was 26% to 30% measuring on the flat sides. They felt a little damp to the touch on the sides. Today (Oct 25) I checked and they are 19% to 20%.
Not sure if it helps to know this but temps are in the 60s to low 70s most of the time and it has rained a few times.
They are in a garage near the door. I run a fan in my garage 24/7 year round to prevent mildew so the air gets lightly stirred.

That’s it for now.

View abehil's profile

abehil

104 posts in 804 days


#13 posted 11-05-2015 07:42 PM

Another update:

Nov 5, 2015. Moisture meter check on the stacked boards: 16%

I’m a little surprised that the moisture content is dropping this quickly. Maybe even concerned that they are drying too quickly. My fan is located in the middle of the garage and pointed towards the rear while the boards are next to the door at the front so the aren’t getting direct air movement. Standing next to them I don’t feel any air movement on my skin so I know it’s pretty mild. It’s rained a half dozen times since the previous reading so moisture in the air has only increased which is normal at this time of year here.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

22023 posts in 1803 days


#14 posted 11-05-2015 08:33 PM

I cut nothing green less than 1” thick. Too much twisting and warping.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View rwe2156's profile (online now)

rwe2156

2198 posts in 946 days


#15 posted 11-05-2015 09:37 PM

You’re doing all the right things.

1/2” doesn’t leave much room for checking, does it?

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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