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Forum topic by ChrisCarr posted 12-31-2010 05:30 AM 6386 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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ChrisCarr

196 posts in 1550 days


12-31-2010 05:30 AM

I have several very small logs in my shed from a tree I cut down 3 months ago. The bark it is still on the logs. I want to use the wood for some small projects. I know they can’t be dry already.

Should I wait to mill them into lumber until after they are fully dry or mill them in my planer now and let them dry the rest of the way rough cut?

Your help is appreciated.


23 replies so far

View cabmaker's profile

cabmaker

1311 posts in 1461 days


#1 posted 12-31-2010 05:59 AM

Three months may be enough time to play with them if they were short small diameter logs. Are you bandsawing first or what ? If so your next step would likely be the jointer, you ll know imediatley if thy are dry enough to proceed. Good luck with it !

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ChrisCarr

196 posts in 1550 days


#2 posted 12-31-2010 06:13 AM

No, I don’t have a bandsaw right now so I figured I would secure it a planer sled and flatten it with only the planer.
I could use the Table Saw to resaw but i would have to get both sides flat a little so I could flit it to cut all the way through.

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cabmaker

1311 posts in 1461 days


#3 posted 12-31-2010 06:30 AM

You can do that . You would certainly want to remove as much roughage as you can first. (drawknife, hatchet or even a machette) Be carefull. JB

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14742 posts in 2328 days


#4 posted 12-31-2010 07:21 AM

What moisture content is best of rough milling logs to lumber?

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View dfdye's profile

dfdye

372 posts in 1689 days


#5 posted 12-31-2010 07:32 AM

Warning sirens are going off with how you are describing cutting these logs. You are in for some SERIOUS work if you are trying to establish a flat with a planer, even if you do succeed in getting all of the bark off first (which you should DEFINITELY do or else your planer will start launching chunks of bark and probably rip itself apart when one of the bark chunks gets stuck in the head), you will probably have to go through a few sets of knives. This doesn’t really seem the best solution.

If you don’t have a band saw, I would think about riving the logs before you start to try and flatten the boards. This has two benefits: 1) you will be maintaining the long wood fibers which will help maintain the stability of the wood, and 2) it will leave you with more manageable boards to pass through your planer. Do you have a buddy with a band saw? Is there a local mill around your area that will do small jobs?

You didn’t mention the species or the size of the logs (diameter), but this may suggest the next step in prepping it. For example, if you have oak, then riving makes a lot of sense, but if it something obnoxious like dogwood, then splitting it is nearly impossible (at least in my experience).

Regardless, milling it at this point is perfectly fine, but be sure you let it dry in a good stack and seal the ends with exterior latex paint (or even better something like anchorseal).

I have a bunch of cherry from a tree my neighbor cut that is drying in my shop right now. I was pretty lazy and didn’t stack it like I should have, and I am seeing the effects of it now—lots of cupping and twisting. A lot of it will end up as firewood, but I can honestly say that I have learned my lesson the hard way, and I will pay much more attention to properly caring for green wood the next time I have some available!

Good luck, and let us know some more information about the wood in question so that we can offer up a few more suggestions.

-- David from Indiana --

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dfdye

372 posts in 1689 days


#6 posted 12-31-2010 07:37 AM

Topa, you can do it green, but I am not sure if there are benefits to letting logs age before milling, quite honestly. All the logs I have ever had access to has been milled pretty soon after felling. I do know that the moisture content of trees is lower in the winter, so harvesting live trees is best done sometime in January or early February before the trees start getting ready for spring and filling back up with water.

I can also say that you should seal the ends of the logs with anchorseal as soon after they are cut as you can to avoid checking if you are going to wait to mill them! This helps a lot down the road, and is another lesson I learned the hard way.

-- David from Indiana --

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14742 posts in 2328 days


#7 posted 12-31-2010 08:28 AM

I currently have a pile of red alder and big leaf maple rived logs aging. I piled them in an old open shed out of the sun and weather. They are stickered and piled solidly in a pile so they will hopefully not develop stresses. They were cut in the early last spring as dangerous trees cut along the access road to our tree farm. I didn’t have time to do much more than cut them 6-8 feet long, split them in half and paint the ends with several coats of latex paint. I also have some small rounds of cherry, madrona, holly and alder that I am experimenting with. I guess I’ll find out, eh?

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View ChrisCarr's profile

ChrisCarr

196 posts in 1550 days


#8 posted 12-31-2010 08:22 PM

Dfdye, Didn’t take into consideration the planer knives. I think I will take off the bulk on the side by hand sawing then run it through the planer so it only takes 1-2 passes.

View dfdye's profile

dfdye

372 posts in 1689 days


#9 posted 12-31-2010 11:24 PM

Chris, I have actually used my chainsaw to do this pretty effectively, even though my chain really isn’t specifically set up for ripping. It may save some time if you have a chainsaw and feel comfortable with the cut. Good luck!

Topa, you should be more than find milling that pile up whenever you feel like it. If you are lucky, it should only take a few months to get to a stable humidity after you mill it if the weather is right. That sounds like a great score! I am especially jealous of the alder since I don’t have a good source for that around me, and I usually am too lazy (and cheap!) to buy wood from anyone but my local sawyer. Who knows, he may get an alder tree from someone this year and I may get lucky! :)

-- David from Indiana --

View Loren's profile

Loren

7545 posts in 2300 days


#10 posted 01-01-2011 01:27 AM

Logs crack as they dry from the outside because the outer layers
dry first, shrink, and are forced to crack by the inner layers which
are not dry and haven’t shrunk.

Therefore, it is common practice to mill the wood into rough boards
as soon as possible. If you wait for the log to dry out you’ll have
a lot of very flawed lumber when you mill it up.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View ChrisCarr's profile

ChrisCarr

196 posts in 1550 days


#11 posted 01-01-2011 02:14 AM

I looked at my small logs today and they all are cracking!!!

Seems like I can’t use them now. They are marple, I love using hardwood but from my few years in woodworking all I could afford was pine and spruce.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14742 posts in 2328 days


#12 posted 01-01-2011 02:36 AM

Thanks for the info Loren. I have never been able to find any source that said how long to leave it in a the log form. I have always wondered about the piles of logs at mills. I may try to get out there this winter and mill some of it if we get some nice weather.

ChrisCarr, I have never seen a maple log that that wasn’t cracked. I think they have them while they are still standing. The first thing I did was spiit on the major crack to work around it instead of across it.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View ChrisCarr's profile

ChrisCarr

196 posts in 1550 days


#13 posted 01-01-2011 04:59 AM

Topa,The problem is if I split the logs at the crack my lumber won’t be the size i need it. I am working with very small logs. The only reason I took the tree it was down is because the tree looked like it was titlting towards the house at a extreme 30 degree angle!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14742 posts in 2328 days


#14 posted 01-01-2011 05:11 AM

There is probably some stress in that wood. Maple will split on the pith. I have several pieces of various sizes i expiremented with and they all did it.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View dfdye's profile

dfdye

372 posts in 1689 days


#15 posted 01-01-2011 05:57 PM

Chris, if you are willing to work with it, you can saw down the cracks and laminate the pieces back together. If not, this will be a valuable lesson to seal your logs as soon after you cut them as possible to prevent checking. The same thing happened to me with some of that cherry I mentioned earlier, so this is definitely a common learning experience—don’t feel bad!

I will be cutting a couple of ash trees later this month (or February depending on when I can get to it) and I have a can of anchorseal that will be applied to the cuts as soon as I get the trees down and cut into logs. Fortunately, all it takes is one time to learn the lesson, even though it really hurts when you start getting those massive end checks!

-- David from Indiana --

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