Help with rough sawn lumber

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Forum topic by Dennis Fletcher posted 01-21-2010 02:25 PM 3549 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dennis Fletcher

467 posts in 3076 days

01-21-2010 02:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: oak cedar mahogany willow basswood cherry maple pine walnut finishing refurbishing sanding question arts and crafts rustic shaker traditional

Hello, this is my first real post, other than my workshop.

There is a small sawmill near me that I have built a relationship with recently. They can give me rough cut at a great price, allowing me to have some material around, waiting for my next project.

My question is this, how long must I let this stuff sit and cure before I can use it in things like furniture and boxes?

--, Making design and application one. †

9 replies so far

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1567 posts in 3587 days

#1 posted 01-21-2010 02:52 PM

Check out this link:
But rough estimate, 1 year per inch of thickness.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View rhett's profile


742 posts in 3689 days

#2 posted 01-21-2010 02:53 PM

Depends on the wood species and the thickness of cut. If this is looking like it may be your main source for hardwood, invest in a moisture meter. If you have space a solar kiln is cheap to constuct and can dry wood fairly quick with little energy. Without some sort of drying method, you are looking at years for wood to be seasoned.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View PaulfromVictor's profile


228 posts in 3367 days

#3 posted 01-21-2010 02:53 PM

Has the wood been kiln dried?

View douglbe's profile


369 posts in 3983 days

#4 posted 01-21-2010 03:33 PM

As Timbo’s response, roughly 1 year per inch of thickness. I can only speak of here in the mid-west, use a good open space, out of direct sun light, and if possible keep air movement through the stickered pile. Species will make a difference, maple air dries slowly. As suggested above invest in a moisture meter. Air drying will only get you to 10 – 14 percent moister and you have to be careful with what projects you use it for. I generally stick to small projects with air dried lumber. Kiln dried will get you 6-8 percent. I would suggest kiln dried for furniture. There are a couple of lumberyards in my area that dry lumber for $.35 and $.40 a bd/ft, I think a pretty good price.

-- Doug, Reed City, Michigan

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 3914 days

#5 posted 01-21-2010 04:03 PM

Air drying lumber here on the East coast can take years because of our humidity levels, and like douglbe pointed out, it may never get down to an acceptable moisture content.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 3719 days

#6 posted 01-21-2010 06:41 PM

Even with kilm dried I use my moisture meter, in a pile of lumber you can pick up a few boards that have picked up moisture.

View hunter71's profile


3185 posts in 3209 days

#7 posted 01-24-2010 03:13 PM

I use saw mill lumber almost exclusively. One thing the mill is only a mile from my shop and 4PM it is a gathering place for all sorts of people. Second is the price and quality. Building supply companies around here do not handle much outside building materials and what they have in specialized lumber is quite expensive. I am lucky to have a large barn I use to store my lumber in. Keeping it filled up for future projects. Drying in a barn is much better than outside under cover. The 1”-per/year rule is a broad based rule. Only a moisture meter will give you an exact reading. Here on the mountain in NE Alabama 1” cheery cut in the early winter can usually be used by late summer.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3547 days

#8 posted 01-24-2010 04:21 PM

I use small mill lumber almost exclusively also. I built a small solar kiln to get my lumber to the correct MC to work with because of the wide variance in moisture that air dried lumber has. I dried a load of american elm during a cold midwest winter last year and it only took a few months to dry the 4/4.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View bandman's profile


79 posts in 3412 days

#9 posted 01-26-2010 07:15 AM

I’d suggest talking with the sawyer and finding out when the material you purchased was sawn as a starting point. Depending on when the board was milled and how it was stored will give a good initial crack at how
long the lumber has been air drying. I typically air dry the materal as much as possible, and then take it down to 6-8 percent in a dehumidification kiln. Typical hardwood sawn on my mill can vary from 25 percent to 40 percent mc depending on conditions. Once the material reaches an air dry state at around 17-19 percent
lumber the material can be taken into a heated environment and it will continue to dry out over a period
of 2-4 weeks during the winter heating season. If its a larger quantity of material, there are numerous small
mill and kiln operations that will dry the wood for you at a relatively low cost. Solar kilns are another great
and inexpensive way to dry material, they typically take some time but produce exteremly well dry and stable material. Investing or borrowing a moisture meter is the best way to be sure of where you’re at throughout
the drying process.

-- Phil

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