Air dried vs kiln dried

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Forum topic by yellowtruck75 posted 02-15-2012 02:53 AM 1956 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View yellowtruck75's profile


469 posts in 3066 days

02-15-2012 02:53 AM

Topic tags/keywords: walnut

I recently got a call from my local hardwood mill that they received 2 twelve foot 8/4 black walnut boards (12’ wide) and wanted to know if I was interested. I immediately dropped my tools and raced over there. The manager told me that they were air dried in a barn for the last 10-15 years and he can’t put it in the racks with the kiln dried so he wanted to sell them cheap. What is the difference that I will face with using air dried walnut opposed to kiln dried? Can I mix air dried and kiln dried in one project?

BTW it turned out to be 48 BF for $120 :)

7 replies so far

View tinnman65's profile


1357 posts in 3413 days

#1 posted 02-15-2012 03:21 AM

I would not mix the air dryer with the Kiln dried because the two dissimilar woods will acquire different moisture content at different rates ( the air dried will be quicker). This could cause problems with your joinery, at least this is what I was told by an instructor at MASW. One other reason is if you look at air dried walnut next to kiln dried you will definitely see a noticeable difference in the color.The air dried has more red tones that are not in the kiln dried. It may work but as the chairs and such that you build are time consuming I,m not sure I would take that chance. Maybe someone else has more experience with doing this. In any case nice find on the wood!!!

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View Scsmith42's profile


125 posts in 2676 days

#2 posted 02-15-2012 03:34 AM

Yellowtruck, I am a miller and a kiln operator. First things first, you got a GREAT DEAL on that walnut! Nice score!

Second, the reason that a lumberyard does not mix AD and KD lumber is because KD lumber is sterilized at the end of the kiln run, and there is no danger of insects, etc in it. For a commercial business, stocking AD lumber in a KD warehouse introduces the risk of insects, which can cause the potential loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars of lumber, which is why your mill would not mix them.

Third, walnut is naturally insect resistant, and it is one of the best species to safely air dry. Other than inspecting it for potential insects, I would not hesitate to use it.

Fourth, air dried walnut has much deeper and richer colors than walnut that is dried in conventional (high temperature) kilns, because walnut dried in conventional kilns is typically steamed in order to turn the bright white sapwood dark (which leaches out some of the natural dark colors from the walnut heartwood). Walnut dried in vacuum and dehumidification kilns is closer in color to AD than high temp KD walnut. AD walnut also benefits from darker pigments due to the longer moisture retention within the wood cells during the drying process.

The only reason that I can think of for not mixing the two different walnuts in the same project is color. Depending upon where you are located, you will want to let the AD walnut acclimate within your shop for a few weeks, but other than that use it with confidence.

Not all species are as forgiving re air drying as walnut, nor are they naturally insect resistant, so high quality KD lumber is always your safest bet.

Good luck on your project.


-- Scott, North Carolina,

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3687 days

#3 posted 02-15-2012 03:55 AM

”(12’ wide) ” ?
I’ve got to see some pictures of that !
I can’t even imagine the diameter of the tree to produce such wide lumber.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10100 posts in 4051 days

#4 posted 02-15-2012 05:00 AM

Heck, a few weeks ago, I got 65 bf at $7.99/bf!! 8/4

$1.20 !!!

You STOLE it!!


-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View yellowtruck75's profile


469 posts in 3066 days

#5 posted 02-15-2012 12:29 PM

12” wide not 12’ sorry.

If it were 12 foot wide I think it would be a crime not to post pictures.

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3687 days

#6 posted 02-16-2012 02:48 AM

lol : ) It would be a crime for sure !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View bondogaposis's profile


4727 posts in 2350 days

#7 posted 02-16-2012 02:59 AM

I much prefer air dried to kiln dried. The wood seems more alive, takes a finish better, easier to work. Cherish your find.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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