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should i age live oak wood before making live edge table?

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Forum topic by metroplexchl posted 07-12-2018 01:19 AM 412 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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metroplexchl

85 posts in 424 days


07-12-2018 01:19 AM

Ladies & Gents,

I have a neighbor that is going to be cutting down a large Live Oak tree. I’d like to use it to make a live edge table or something similar. I’ve never done this before mainly because I’ve never had the opportunity. I have skills, but this is new to me.

Do I need to let it age/dry before doing this or is green better? If drying is preferred, how long?

chris

-- What ever you do, be good at it. -Abe Lincoln


11 replies so far

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

1662 posts in 1917 days


#1 posted 07-12-2018 01:38 AM

The live oak that grow around my area is very difficult to dry.It warps and cracks like crazy.
You will need it to be dry if you want a table to be proud of.
That might be the easy part.

-- Aj

View Mario's profile

Mario

181 posts in 3515 days


#2 posted 07-12-2018 01:39 AM

You definitely need to let it air dry down to the equilibrium moisture content for your location (emc), being live oak you might be tempted to work with it when it is not fully dry and somewhat easier to work but unless your design includes warps and cracks I would definitely allow it to dry, the usual 1 year per inch of thickness or if it is available in your neck of the woods, have somebody kiln dry it for you, it will save you time and allow for quick feedback as to how much lumber will still be usable.

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metroplexchl

85 posts in 424 days


#3 posted 07-12-2018 01:41 AM

Should i cut it into rough planks while green and then let dry?

-- What ever you do, be good at it. -Abe Lincoln

View msinc's profile

msinc

497 posts in 623 days


#4 posted 07-12-2018 02:01 AM


Should i cut it into rough planks while green and then let dry?

- metroplexchl

If you mean having a fresh cut “green” tree trunk milled into slabs then yes, you will need to do this. Leaving the log intact is not very conducive to drying. I would also suggest you sticker stack it in a place where it will stay dry and it should not be out in the sun, it could dry too fast and crack. It will be challenge enough to keep cracking to a minimum. I would also suggest that once you get it milled into slabs and get them stacked with spacers where you want them to dry that you also put some weight on the stack to help with cupping and bowing. Most live edge tables are usually milled to eight quarters {2” thick}, the more mass the more to warp or crack.
I don’t know how many tables you intend to make, but I suggest that you have the trunk milled into several “extra” slabs to insure you get at least one usable after drying. If by some chance some of the others are also good and usable you can always sell them or make more tables. I have had pretty good luck with cherry and walnut getting about 2 out of three that are good and flat. Oak and hickory like to crack…they are about 2 out of 4. The others are still usable, just cupped or warped and need more work to get them flat and square. In so doing they end up not as thick as I had intended. As to having the slabs kiln dried, it will definitely speed up the process by a lot. Something like 3 or 4 months instead of 2-2 1/2 years. There is no evidence to suggest that properly executed kiln drying lumber can/will causes it to crack any worse or any less.

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metroplexchl

85 posts in 424 days


#5 posted 07-12-2018 02:08 AM



The live oak that grow around my area is very difficult to dry.It warps and cracks like crazy.
You will need it to be dry if you want a table to be proud of.
That might be the easy part.

- Aj2

ANy other suggested uses for the wood? I rarely get this opportunity where i live and would like to put the felled tree to good uses. Maybe some large hammers, axe handles, bowls maybe? What would you suggest?

chris

-- What ever you do, be good at it. -Abe Lincoln

View metroplexchl's profile

metroplexchl

85 posts in 424 days


#6 posted 07-12-2018 02:13 AM


Should i cut it into rough planks while green and then let dry?

- metroplexchl

If you mean having a fresh cut “green” tree trunk milled into slabs then yes, you will need to do this. Leaving the log intact is not very conducive to drying. I would also suggest you sticker stack it in a place where it will stay dry and it should not be out in the sun, it could dry too fast and crack. It will be challenge enough to keep cracking to a minimum. I would also suggest that once you get it milled into slabs and get them stacked with spacers where you want them to dry that you also put some weight on the stack to help with cupping and bowing. Most live edge tables are usually milled to eight quarters {2” thick}, the more mass the more to warp or crack.
I don t know how many tables you intend to make, but I suggest that you have the trunk milled into several “extra” slabs to insure you get at least one usable after drying. If by some chance some of the others are also good and usable you can always sell them or make more tables. I have had pretty good luck with cherry and walnut getting about 2 out of three that are good and flat. Oak and hickory like to crack…they are about 2 out of 4. The others are still usable, just cupped or warped and need more work to get them flat and square. In so doing they end up not as thick as I had intended. As to having the slabs kiln dried, it will definitely speed up the process by a lot. Something like 3 or 4 months instead of 2-2 1/2 years. There is no evidence to suggest that properly executed kiln drying lumber can/will causes it to crack any worse or any less.

- msinc

Excellent info. I appreciate your help. Maybe a table is better left for another project. What would you suggest some good uses of that wood could be….i don’t want to waste the opportunity.

chris

-- What ever you do, be good at it. -Abe Lincoln

View Sludgeguy's profile

Sludgeguy

34 posts in 242 days


#7 posted 07-12-2018 02:16 AM

Live oak is closed grain and finishes nice. Very hard and heavy. I made a coffee table with it and liked working with it. USS Constitution is made of live oak

View metroplexchl's profile

metroplexchl

85 posts in 424 days


#8 posted 07-12-2018 02:35 AM


Live oak finishes nice!

- Sludgeguy


Live oak finishes nice

- Sludgeguy

Man that’s beautiful

-- What ever you do, be good at it. -Abe Lincoln

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Aj2

1662 posts in 1917 days


#9 posted 07-12-2018 04:25 AM

There’s a lot different species of live oak here in Califfornia. I’ve passed on many opportunities for live oak trunks.Because everyone I’ve talked to says it’s very difficult to dry even with a solar kiln.
I did make a wooden hand plane from live oak. It never behaved long enough for me to enjoy.
Do you have any idea what species it is?
If it’s the coastal live oak then your probably gonna end up with firewood.:(

-- Aj

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msinc

497 posts in 623 days


#10 posted 07-12-2018 11:09 AM


Excellent info. I appreciate your help. Maybe a table is better left for another project. What would you suggest some good uses of that wood could be….i don t want to waste the opportunity.

chris

- metroplexchl

Well, it can be said of many different wood species that it is prone to crack and warp…hickory is one of the worst I have ever worked with and both red and white oak will definitely crack on you, yet folks still make all kinds of things out of all of it. Some woods really are bad about cracking, but in my experience it has much more to do with just how much stress is in a particular piece of wood more so than the type or species of tree it came from.
If I am working with some wood and I see cracks in it just from being air cured or kiln dried and I see it either open way up or try to close down after passing the riving knife on my table saw I might be cautious about what I use it for. I will either plan on cutting it in strips and gluing it up or use it for end grain butcher block type projects {still cut and glued}. Wood that has a lot of stress or is prone to cracking can still be worked, I just cut it down and glue it back up. This helps to relieve a lot of the stress and make wood I otherwise wouldn’t want to use usable.
I guess I would look at your situation this way…you got a free tree, if you spend the money and have it milled you are only out that small amount and you will have a lot of wood to, at the very least, make a bunch of nice butcher blocks out of. The problem with all this cutting up and gluing back together is that there goes your live edge.
On the other hand, if live edge tables is really what you have your heart set on then don’t mess with it. My first suggestion is that you find the mill where you would take this tree to have cut up and talk to the person that runs it. He can tell you his experience with that exact wood in your area. He should also be able to suggest the best type of wood in that location to make live edge stuff out of. He might even have some live edge slabs sitting around he will sell you that are already dry. Best of luck.

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msinc

497 posts in 623 days


#11 posted 07-12-2018 11:17 AM



Live oak is closed grain and finishes nice. Very hard and heavy. I made a coffee table with it and liked working with it. USS Constitution is made of live oak

- Sludgeguy

What a nice looking table!!! Looks like it is finished very well and so nice and flat. Funny how it takes another woodworker to appreciate just how much work goes into getting a few boards to look like that. Most people believe wood is either automatically nice and flat or it makes itself that way!!!! I didn’t know that any kind of oak was closed grained.

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