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how long to dry western red cedar?

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Forum topic by smithereen posted 09-03-2012 06:59 PM 7496 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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smithereen

3 posts in 1553 days


09-03-2012 06:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: red cedar drying

I’m new to the wood working world and am starting a project to build a dining room table out of western red cedar. I just picked up the wood (it’s beautiful) from a local sawmill here on the west coast of British Columbia. It’s all 2x stock, and I’m wondering how long I need to let it dry in my garage before I can plane it and start making the table. It was milled 2 days before I picked it up. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Conrad.

-- Simplicity, it's the least you can do...


8 replies so far

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pmayer

864 posts in 2527 days


#1 posted 09-03-2012 09:05 PM

The rule of thumb is 1 year per inch of thickness, which is generally a high estimate in most parts of the country. I have never dried cedar but I would think it would dry more quickly than other woods. Be sure to sticker and stack it properly.

On another note, I would think twice about building a dining table out of western red cedar since it is so soft (janka rating of 350 puts it right near the bottom in terms of hardness). If you do build a table, plan on it getting very dinged up, especially if kids will be eating at it. I would probably distress it, even though I am not a fan of doing so, so that the first ding doesn’t stand out.

-- PaulMayer, http://www.vernswoodgoods.com

View derosa's profile

derosa

1568 posts in 2298 days


#2 posted 09-04-2012 02:00 AM

Find someplace reasonably dry and warm and it will dry in less time then a year. Other big thing is make sure your stickers are truly dry; my applewood was very wet and the stickers weren’t perfectly dry, thankfully I checked the stack after 3 weeks and noticed mold was just starting to form between the stickers and wood from the dampness. A quick restack stopped that problem completely. Also don’t use oak as the stickers as the tannin is good at staining other woods.
Agree with Paul about the softness, I tried building one with butternut which is 490 on the scale; I dinged it so many times just making it that I cut it down to size and gave it to my daughter. You wouldn’t believe the size of the dents that break completely through the poly finish and into the wood and that is just with one 2 year old.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

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Monte Pittman

21997 posts in 1800 days


#3 posted 09-04-2012 02:51 AM

The softness issue can be handled by using bar top epoxy on the table top. Brings out the beauty as any clear coating, but stops the dings. Happy working.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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Moron

5032 posts in 3355 days


#4 posted 09-04-2012 03:43 AM

Conrad

it takes a long time

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Doss's profile

Doss

779 posts in 1726 days


#5 posted 09-04-2012 07:36 PM

Temperature and airflow in your garage?
What sizes?
How many?
Interior or exterior use?

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

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smithereen

3 posts in 1553 days


#6 posted 09-04-2012 11:10 PM

Thanks for the info folks. I have 3 or 4 of each 8 foot 4×4’s, 2×4’s, and 2×12’s. The garage has minimal air flow, and it’s getting cool out (the leaves are starting to change color up here) and the garage is not heated (daytime temps in the garage are probably around 15 celcius). I thought about pointing a couple of fans onto the pile, but not sure if that would result in warping due to inconsistent drying. I don’t know how long the logs were sitting prior to the milling, likely a couple of months.

Bottom line that I’m picking up is that this table won’t be set for christmas dinner this year.

Monte, do you have a specific product you would recommend for the epoxy?

-- Simplicity, it's the least you can do...

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Doss

779 posts in 1726 days


#7 posted 09-05-2012 02:35 AM

Hmm… it could be ready depending on how dry it already is. You will probably want to go pick up a moisture meter. Even a $20-30 unit would work well enough. If you have room inside the conditioned portion of your house, move them there. Depending on how wet they are, they could possibly be ready by late November.

I’ve had 8/4 stock dry down from 18-20% to below 10% in 3 months. I “think” WR cedar dries relatively quickly.

As to whether it’s a suitable tabletop material… well, that all depends. I used pine (200+ year old northern cabin floorboards cut with a water-powered sawmill) for my in house dining table (relatively light usage) with only a coat of beeswax and orange oil to protect it and it’s held up wonderfully.

Here it is before it got coated:
http://www.southernsprout.com/inspiration/furnished-table-1/

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

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pmayer

864 posts in 2527 days


#8 posted 09-05-2012 03:29 AM

Derosa raises a good point about stickering. I generally store my fresh cut boards vertically until they get down to about 20% MC, at which point mold won’t be a threat and the chance of sticker staining becomes remote. This time of year it normally takes just a couple weeks for 4/4 stock to reach 20%.

-- PaulMayer, http://www.vernswoodgoods.com

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