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Table legs from green lumber?

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Forum topic by Jeremymcon posted 02-01-2017 09:07 PM 427 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jeremymcon

186 posts in 512 days


02-01-2017 09:07 PM

I have been reading about chair making lately, and noted that many (most?) chair makers make their chair legs from green lumber, then allow them to dry after they’ve been turned.

Well, I have access to some dead fallen trees that have not been milled, and I also have a problem finding 8/4 and 12/4 leg stock. Now, I suppose I could have a tree milled, but I don’t have a truck or trailer. Or a place to stack lumber and let it dry for 3 years.

What I do have is access to a chainsaw, splitting wedges and a sledge, and a 14” bandsaw. If I find a nice straight and section, could I split out or saw out a table leg blank, roughly 3”x3”x36”, or 2”x2”x36”, seal the ends, and allow them to dry? I wonder how badly they would check and warp being cut to these dimensions, and how long they’d take to dry stacked near the dehumidifier in my basement? I imagine significantly less time than in 8’ board form.

Anyone have any experience with this sort of thing?


7 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4799 posts in 3793 days


#1 posted 02-01-2017 09:22 PM

Typical thoughts are to use green wood for the seats an dry lumber for the legs. That way the seat would/will shrink to the legs.
Just my thoughts.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

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Jeremymcon

186 posts in 512 days


#2 posted 02-02-2017 12:27 AM

Right. I’m not really really talking about using it green in the the finished product though. I’m basically talking about drying lumber in table-leg-sized and chair-leg-sized pieces, and whether it will save me time and can work.

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1322 posts in 1781 days


#3 posted 02-02-2017 01:56 AM

If I read it right, I believe what you are reading is similar to bowl turners. take the blank and rough turn it then let it dry (so it can twist and move) then turn it to the finished product after its dry. Here are some clips of making logs more manageable sizes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76ryw9ZV1Ck

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vODXyUmkEoo

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

1269 posts in 753 days


#4 posted 02-02-2017 01:59 PM

Jeremymcon,

I see nothing wrong with your plan, but then I have no experience with air-drying green lumber. I really do not know, but I have heard a rule of thumb for air drying lumber that states it takes 1 year per inch of thickness to dry to a workable moisture content. Since the moisture will leave the lumber slowly though the face, where the ends are sealed to reduce checking, surface level moisture meter measurements will probably be misleading. An accurate reading would have to be taken near the center (thickness-wise) of the lumber. Therefore, if you end up with some wood that cannot be worked but is roughed out to about the same dimensions as the rest of the stack, it too could be dried along with the other lumber. The unworkable piece could then be periodically tested at its core to get an idea of drying progress.

My guess is that if the lumber is split with the wedges, the lumber will remain more stable as it dries than if roughed out by cutting. But then unless the grain is fairly straight, more milling would be required for a project since the rough split lumber would probably not be very straight.

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Jeremymcon

186 posts in 512 days


#5 posted 02-02-2017 02:20 PM

Drying an unworkable piece and using it as a test piece is an interesting idea. I don’t own a moisture meter, though. I’d need to buy one. But if it worked out, it’d save me enough money to be able to afford the meter. The only supplier of 12/4 dried lumber I can find in my area sells red oak for $6/bf, and white oak for $10/bf!

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4472 posts in 2184 days


#6 posted 02-02-2017 02:27 PM

Your plan sounds workable. I wouldn’t try to rush the drying process though. Slow and easy on air drying lumber will best avoid, twist, check, cup, bow and crook.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

1493 posts in 1220 days


#7 posted 02-02-2017 02:36 PM

Checkout Season 2, Episode 5 (The Chair Maker) of “A Craftsman’s Legacy” PBS series. You will have to register to watch online but there are other good episodes so it is worth it. This episode briefly shows the part of the process of splitting, turning, drying and building a Windsor chair from green wood. There is a quick view of the drying kiln he uses around 12 minutes in. He uses a draw knife to get the spindles down to a rough dimension and then dries them in a light bulb powered kiln at around 140 degrees for a few days. By the way, he uses a froe to do the final controlled split after rough splitting with wedges.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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