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American elm milling and drying tips please

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Forum topic by Julian posted 10-17-2008 02:23 AM 8496 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Julian

880 posts in 3667 days


10-17-2008 02:23 AM

My next door neighbor just had his large American elm tree cut down today, and I got the 36” diameter, 8’ long main trunk of the tree for free. I’m planning on getting that heavy trunk over to a semi-local sawmill; there is only one guy milling lumer that I know of around here, and he’s 40 miles away in Indiana. I’ve never had green lumber milled, then air dried it before, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

To say that I’m excited would be an understatement. I’ve always felt a connection to the wood as I transform it from rough lumber to something useful, and beautiful. Now I will be able to have had my hands on the lumber from the time the tree fell.

I have used many different types of wood, but never have seen or used American elm, so I am quite curious to see how well it machines and finishes.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL


12 replies so far

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Julian

880 posts in 3667 days


#1 posted 10-19-2008 03:24 PM

The tree is going to the mill today. I found a guy with a bandsaw mill that is a bit farther away, but it will save more material than the radial sawmill I was going to go to. The plan is to paint the ends with latex paint, and get it on 3/4” stickers in my shop as soon as I get it back, then weight it down with some of my 8/4 mahogany stock that I have laying around.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

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Boardman

157 posts in 3903 days


#2 posted 10-19-2008 03:55 PM

I’d love to see the resulting lumber. There are several sites that will describe air drying procedures – I just don’t have on handy. But it seems you’ve got the basics figured out. Just make sure the base of the pile is level, to prevent twisting. I’ve air dried a little bit myself and I bought some scratched/dented pieces of metal roofing at a BORG for cheap, and used that as the covering. Air drying in winter is slower than summer, but you’ll atch next summer.

You’re supposed to rotate the material in the pile (inside to outside) to promote equal dryning. Pick a spot exposed to the wind to carry moisture away. In your location you can probably get it to 10-11% moisture. A kile will probably be around $.40 bf if you want to take it down to 6-8%

In my neighborhood in St. Paul MN there are scattered American elms that escaped the initial attacks of the Dutch Elm disease and they are really impressive specemins. I’ve seen some with 48” diameters. Some are dying off now and the city is just burning/mulcing the lumber.

I’ve used red elm and it’s really nice stuff, but never seen american elm. Good luck on the project.

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Karson

35134 posts in 4542 days


#3 posted 10-19-2008 04:09 PM

A lumberjoc called Zipsss had an Elm log like yours milled. I’ve got a couple of pieces. Send him a message and find out what he did.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia karsonwm@gmail.com †

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Julian

880 posts in 3667 days


#4 posted 10-20-2008 03:46 AM

I have just returned from the mill. Turns out it was a red elm. The color is just amazing. I’ve never seen a wood with the variety of color this one had. There is red, brown, and orange shades all in the same pieces.

Look at my blog for the pictures

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

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Boardman

157 posts in 3903 days


#5 posted 10-20-2008 02:12 PM

Man, did you score!!!! Red elm is one of my favorites. When it’s planed and sanded it has this dandy little chevron pattern that’s completely unique. It easy to get a great finish on it. Sometimes it can can bow after planing, but not that many pieces usually. And I’ve NEVER seen any red elm that wide!

And it’s one of those woods that really benefits from air drying – it preserves it’s color better.

You lucky dog!

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Boardman

157 posts in 3903 days


#6 posted 10-20-2008 02:17 PM

Just looked at the pics.

That’s truly “lumber of a lifetime!” I’ve never seen red elm so beautiful.

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Julian

880 posts in 3667 days


#7 posted 10-26-2008 02:45 AM

Well, now that I have the lumber sitting there drying, I decided to build a solar kiln due to my impatience. I figure that it should be dry by springtime, and be ready to work with. I will update this thread periodically to the progress of the wood.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

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Boardman

157 posts in 3903 days


#8 posted 10-26-2008 11:16 PM

You figured out what you’ll build with it yet? Looks like you could make a good sized table with it.

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Julian

880 posts in 3667 days


#9 posted 10-27-2008 11:10 PM

Boardman,

After talking it over with my wife, I decided the first piece to make with this beautiful wood is going to be a hutch. I’m shooting for a Greene and Greene inspired design. The finished project will have ebony square plugs, and splines, and maybe even pulls.

I have been hard at work learning sketchup these last few weeks, and so far I have designed the outer shell of the hutch. I used actual photos of the elm to skin the piece, so it will look as close to the finished piece as possible.

Here’s a link to my blog about the construction of my solar kiln to dry the elm.http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/Julian/blog/6264

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

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Boardman

157 posts in 3903 days


#10 posted 10-28-2008 04:48 AM

Well, if you’re anywhere near as good at woodworking as you are at Sketchup it should come out great. I’ve been meaning to try sketchup and now that I can see what one can do with it, I’m inspired. I like the simple design – will really show the wood off. Red elm is really striking since you hardly ever see it used. That’ll be a dandy.

And thanks for the link to th solar kiln project. Another thing on my “to do” list.

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Julian

880 posts in 3667 days


#11 posted 11-06-2008 02:17 AM

My solar kiln is now in full swing, and the elm is drying away. I’m guessing that the boards will be ready to go in the springtime, so I have all winter to dream up ideas using sketchup.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

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NavyDC

2 posts in 24 days


#12 posted 09-23-2018 06:42 PM


My solar kiln is now in full swing, and the elm is drying away. I m guessing that the boards will be ready to go in the springtime, so I have all winter to dream up ideas using sketchup.

- Julian


So long since a post. Wondering if the solar kiln worked, have an American Elm and live in the NV. dessert, plenty of solar! RJ.

-- RJM

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