Perferred length of rough cut lumber

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by john posted 06-04-2010 07:28 PM 2025 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View john's profile


11 posts in 3544 days

06-04-2010 07:28 PM

I hope this is the correct area to ask this question.
I have a trunk of a Maple tree I recently cut down. I would like to have it cut up to air dry for future projects.
The trunk is 16 ft long and 32 in wide.
The problem I have is I can’t move it enough to load on to my trailer to take to a sawyer.
I may have to cut the trunk in two to be able to move it.
Any suggestions as to what lengths I should cut it too?
Thanks for any suggestions you can provide!


26 replies so far

View SnowyRiver's profile


51452 posts in 2897 days

#1 posted 06-04-2010 07:40 PM

I think I would do 8 ft lengths if the log is 16 ft.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View dbhost's profile


5589 posts in 2649 days

#2 posted 06-04-2010 07:55 PM

IF possible, 8’ lengths (or shorter depending on your typical projects) is what I go for… Unless of course you are doing flooring, then I would try my hardest to get a mill to the log and slice it up there and haul it off on a ladder rack / pickup truck.

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 3322 days

#3 posted 06-04-2010 08:03 PM

If it is straight, 2 – 8’s…if it has a crook (bend) in it cut it at the crook. You will get more lumber from say a 7 and a 9 (or 6 and 10, whatever) that are straight than 2- 8’s that one of them has a crook in it.

View Greedo's profile


470 posts in 2377 days

#4 posted 06-04-2010 08:25 PM

unless you know exactly what you will make with it, i would say the longer the better. have one part as long as possible, but make sure the rest isn’t too short either.
that is, if there are no bends or branches.
i always take the longest wood i can handle, usually 15ft, it’s often difficult to handle but you can cut so much parts out of one 16ft board, then out of two 8ft boards.
(well maybe not so much out of 1 board, but over the many board you work with, it makes a notable difference)

View a1Jim's profile


115166 posts in 2994 days

#5 posted 06-04-2010 08:28 PM

What about leaving it 16ft and cutting up the middle. It would mean having a big chain saw or cutting from both sides. I guess it also depends the size of the area you have to store the milled material.

-- Custom furniture

View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 3232 days

#6 posted 06-04-2010 09:23 PM

Check with the sawyer to see if they can handle lengths shorter than 8’. (it can be a problem.)

Generally speaking you want at least 8’ 6”. That you when the board checks you can cut the checks off and still have an 8’ board. Or if it wasn’t cut square, bark edge, whatever. You always want something longer. Since 8’ covers most full height walls….

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2491 days

#7 posted 06-04-2010 09:33 PM

In my shop I have sufficient room to run 8’ boards through my TS, Planer and jointer. However, it is a lot easier to handle boards that are 6’ or less. For me, I would cut the wood for 6’, 6’ and 4’. However, every shop and every situation is different.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2375 days

#8 posted 06-05-2010 12:08 AM

You could run a chainsaw along a guide, aka Alaska mini mill style, and get it in half lengthwise if you want. 16’ is a long board, if you have a market for it, say a bar top, then it may be worth the trouble. I support Catspaw above, I would take a longer board from the best side to ensure a 8 footer to be clean. The shorter end will still be very useful (provided it would have been anyway) at less than 8’. Look closely for nails and holes thru the bark, as maple loves to spalt/rot quickly from damage; this may be a guideline you end up using to choose where to split it.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3185 days

#9 posted 06-05-2010 12:20 AM

I would do 8 and 8…. It will probably check at least a little bit on the ends especially if you are planning of cutting wide boards. Then you may only get 7 feet of usable material out of it. But like darren said above you have to really judge it by the log and the crook in the log to see how it should be cut.

View YoungestSon's profile


93 posts in 2473 days

#10 posted 06-05-2010 12:31 AM

How big of a log can you move? At 32 inches it will weigh a lot per foot. Can you move an 8 foot length?

-- Don - Rochester, NY

View rhett's profile


734 posts in 3084 days

#11 posted 06-05-2010 12:37 AM

You should be thinking about how thick you want it. 8’ is standard length, but how many furniture pieces do you see that are 8’ long. Personally I would get it cut into 3 sections and have it sawn thick. This way you can do bookmatching and whatnot.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View john's profile


11 posts in 3544 days

#12 posted 06-05-2010 02:09 PM

Thank you for all your well thought out suggestions!
The trunk is straight the whole 16’.
I have an old timer nearby that tells me he knows how to get the log on the trailer. We will angle 2 8’ locust logs off the side of the trailer, wrap some chain or straps around the log then pull it up the locust logs onto the trailer with a tractor.
Will try to leave it the 16’ and cut it up into 2.5” slabs to dry.
Plan on doing it this weekend.
Thanks again for all the suggestions, they are all very helpful.


View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 3322 days

#13 posted 06-05-2010 02:36 PM

View john's profile


11 posts in 3544 days

#14 posted 06-05-2010 02:58 PM

Excellent post!
That is exactly what I was talking about. The pictures cleared some questions I had about the procedure because I have never done this before.
Thanks Daren! Will try this today if the rain holds out.


View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 3232 days

#15 posted 06-05-2010 04:50 PM

1” = 1 year air dry time. Don’t know about active kiln drying…depends on the kiln. You might ask those who you plan to have dry the wood for you.

I would be curious about hearing what affect that thickness might have on splitting, checking, etc. I wonder about maybe more thickness may add stress and such. My first instinct is to say that there would be more unwanted forces acting on the wood.

Most of the time, the general plan would be to build up the thickness with edges, etc. to save wood and give the appearance of thick wood. If you have specific plans that require 2+” fine. But if you need thinner stock, you may find you’re wasting alot of wood bringing it down to thickness from 2.5”. Some could be sawn to 2.5” to cover, say, a table top. Then have the rest sawn to 5/4 or something.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

showing 1 through 15 of 26 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics