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Any reason not to use Elm as dimensional lumber?

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Forum topic by aussiechippie posted 746 days ago 1326 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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aussiechippie

21 posts in 1678 days


746 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: elm dimensional green construction

Any problems with using Elm in place of SPF dimensional lumber? The hardness seems to be up there and it seems like it should be stable enough once dried.

-- If at first you don't succeed... then skydiving's not for you...


8 replies so far

View WDHLT15's profile

WDHLT15

983 posts in 979 days


#1 posted 745 days ago

The problem is that elm has spiral grain and is difficult to dry straight without twist or warp. If it was straight, it would not be a problem. The issue is keeping it straight. This characteristic is why woods like sycamore, sweetgum, elm, and hackberry are generally only commercially used as pallet wood. The beauty is there, but there is a devil inside.

-- Danny, Located in Perry, GA, Forester, Wood-Mizer LT15 Sawmill

View crank49's profile

crank49

3245 posts in 1473 days


#2 posted 745 days ago

+1 what Wood Mizer just said.

Elm and Sweet Gum can both be beautiful woods but they won’t stay straight.

Black Gum is another twisty wood. But it does have an uncanny ability to not split which makes it a good choice for rollers and wheels.

Often woods have characteristics that make them unsuitable for one application while makeing them ideal for another.

-- Michael :-{| Diapers and politicians both need to be changed often; and for the same reason.

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knotscott

5151 posts in 1878 days


#3 posted 745 days ago

The red elm that I’ve used is more prone to movement than other woods I’ve used. Letting it acclimate is important. I went as far as to dimension it slightly oversized, then let it acclimate some more before final dimensioning. It can be incredibly beautiful wood.


-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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aussiechippie

21 posts in 1678 days


#4 posted 745 days ago

So if I cut oversize (1/8, 1/4?), dry, then dimension it should be ok?

-- If at first you don't succeed... then skydiving's not for you...

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knotscott

5151 posts in 1878 days


#5 posted 745 days ago

Every lumber situation is unique, so there’s no way to know for sure until you try it, but it did work fairly well for me. The wood moved alot in the first day to two after the first dimensioning session, but has held well for the few years since making these pieces.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

9370 posts in 1509 days


#6 posted 745 days ago

i say 1/4 would do it aussie.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View WDHLT15's profile

WDHLT15

983 posts in 979 days


#7 posted 745 days ago

That is a lot of work for framing lumber, if that is what you are going to do with it. You can buy SPF dimensional lumber pretty cheap.

-- Danny, Located in Perry, GA, Forester, Wood-Mizer LT15 Sawmill

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aussiechippie

21 posts in 1678 days


#8 posted 742 days ago

Those elm pieces look great knotscott! I appreciate that they don’t look over-stained – I do appreciate seeing wood as it looks naturally instead of stained and dyed to within an inch of recognition.

It’s true that dimensioned lumber is cheap WDHLT15, however with a limited woodworking budget, a limited patience budget from the wife if I overspend, a limited set of abundant tree species in the area (SLC Utah), and the fact I cannot pick up a part time job to pay for the materials (have a work visa but am only allowed to work for my sponsor employer), the only commodity I have left to work with is my time – so I’m just trying to figure out how to best use that and what my options are. I figure if I learn to fish (instead of going to the fishmonger) I’ll be able to get more wood with which to work/play.

I appreciate the comments from everyone and am grateful I found this site for advice – there are so many friendly folk willing to help, and plenty of diverse opinions!

-- If at first you don't succeed... then skydiving's not for you...

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