Is it possible to adequately air dry 8/4 lumber?

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Forum topic by yellowtruck75 posted 10-24-2012 09:29 PM 3622 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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469 posts in 3095 days

10-24-2012 09:29 PM

I have quite a bit of 8/4 walnut and cherry, these are slabs that still have the bark on them. I have the wood stacked and stickered in my basement. The walnut has been stacked since March and the cherry has been there since Sept. I checked with my local mill and they are willing to kiln dry it for $700 which isn’t alot when I break it down per slab. Is it possible for me to leave them where they are and that they will adequately air dry? I know that 8/4 will take roughly 2 years which I can stand but I don’t want to wait the time and check the surface with my moisture meter and then have it split later on.


13 replies so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


5706 posts in 2841 days

#1 posted 10-24-2012 09:46 PM

Regardless if you decide to kiln dry them or not, 8/4 should air dry 2 years before it enters the kiln. If wood goes in the kiln too wet, it will warp and check. It creates internal stress and cracks in the wood that you simply can’t sand out.
By the way, you could build a dehumidification kiln for less than $700. I have $150 into my portable kiln that will dry 200-300 b.f. at a time.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View yellowtruck75's profile


469 posts in 3095 days

#2 posted 10-24-2012 10:25 PM

Do you have a link or pictures of a dehumidification kiln? Would you suggest the wood air dry for 2 years before using a dehumidification kiln also?

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2999 days

#3 posted 10-24-2012 10:43 PM

Also, consider that another reason for kiln drying is to kill bugs.
I have 550 BF of 8/4 cherry air drying in my basement right now.
I recently re-stacked it to flatten out some of the boards that were wanting to twist.
In that process I discovered little holes and pi;es of sawdust on some of the boards.

It’s my understanding that powder post beetles don’t lay eggs in the heart of cherry, but prefer the sap wood.
I don’t know if that is true for walnut, but is something you might want to consider.

I plan to build a dehumidification kiln. I also plan to rig up a way to heat the stack to 150 degrees or so to kill the bugs. Although, when you fine the holes, like in my case, they have already done the damage.

View WDHLT15's profile


1748 posts in 2504 days

#4 posted 10-25-2012 04:04 AM

In Georgia, 8/4 cherry will air dry much faster than 2 years. More like 1 year or less. Cherry dries fast. A moisture meter is your friend. Your climate may vary.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View derosa's profile


1577 posts in 2863 days

#5 posted 10-25-2012 04:42 AM

Really depends on the basement. If your furnace is in the basement and completely dries the basement like mine does in the winter then there is a possibility that by the end of the winter the boards could be close to ready.

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

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10123 posts in 4080 days

#6 posted 10-25-2012 05:21 AM

I’ve had a basement once… During that time, I found it the coolest part of the house…
I would think Ventilation & Dehumidification would be the most important things to ensure any drying at all.
Maybe a little heat is required if it’s very cold in there… especially during winter.

Cost-out doing that plus the electricity required… then put a Value on the Space being used & add it to the Total… worth using the space for something else? Compare that cost to having it dried elsewhere.

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

View Wildwood's profile


2322 posts in 2162 days

#7 posted 10-25-2012 01:56 PM

Drying wood simply a water removal can sum up this process in one word evaporation. Air circulation more important than heat for air-drying wood in your basement. Adding an inexpensive fan or two & optional timer should help drying your wood. Based upon current MC of boards can set up a schedule of fan on, fan off. Fan speed and placement easy learning process. Just getting air circulation through stack all you want.

I bought this MM from Lowes couple years ago when only cost $10, and recommend it at current price. Reviews at website worth a look.

-- Bill

View pmayer's profile


1028 posts in 3093 days

#8 posted 10-25-2012 03:20 PM

In Minnesota I can get 8/4 cherry or walnut down to 10% in one drying season (April to October) as long as I store it indoors. I also use a fan and sometimes a dehumidifier. The only time I bother with the dehumidifier is when I am drying a large quantity and I am concerned about all of the moisture building up in the room.

-- PaulMayer,

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2986 days

#9 posted 10-25-2012 10:33 PM

It depends on a lot of variables, but for the most part you should be okay. They should air dry just fine, provided the mc in the basement is the same as the rest of the house; if it’s warm down there you should be okay. The cherry is the wild card, it likes to crack and has more of a tendancy to attract and harbor bugs. The walnut will be forgiving, but the sap wood on both will invite bugs of all sorts especially ants. If you plan on using the live edges in your project you should get the kiln work done soon; if not, cut it off and get rid of it. I’d pressure wash the bark off if you keep the sapwood on. The heartwood is generally safe. There are many opinions on when and how to kiln dry, mine is to let it air dry 6 months to a year then kiln dry/sterilize it down to a couple percentage points lower mc than you expect the wood to be in after you use it.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2314 days

#10 posted 10-25-2012 10:58 PM

If you sticker it in your basement, keep it 10” off the floor and I’d use a vapor barrier and a fan on low speed. Be sure to coat the ends. I’d cut off half an inch on the ends and then seal them.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View WDHLT15's profile


1748 posts in 2504 days

#11 posted 10-26-2012 02:30 AM

There is a lot of water in wood, so if you use the basement, you might get mold and mildew in the basement and rust on tools. I think the dehumidifier would be a good bet.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2216 days

#12 posted 10-26-2012 02:42 AM

Air drying is a safer bet if you have the time – not only does kiln drying increase your costs, they can screw it up and trash the boards if they don’t do it right . . .

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View yellowtruck75's profile


469 posts in 3095 days

#13 posted 10-26-2012 11:48 AM

I talked with the local mill and I am going to take the walnut and cherry to the kiln over my Thanksgiving vacation. I hate spending the money to get it kiln dried but at this point I am buying other walnut and cherry to do project while this is air drying. I haven’t checked the moisture in a few months so once I do I will post the results here.

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