Advice on cutting lumbar into 1/8" art canvas

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Forum topic by TreeWorks posted 12-23-2013 03:51 PM 2223 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 1790 days

12-23-2013 03:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: wood lumber tree saw cut advice thin smooth dry cure milling planer

Hey folks,

I was hoping some of you professionals could give me advice on a small home project regarding cutting a pine tree into small 1/8”+ artwork canvas. I’m planning on cutting down a smaller pine tree in my backyard and I’d like to utilize the resource and make my wife some art canvases. I figure the tree is about 12” thick and I could probably make enough wood canvas (with bark still attached) to last her years. The trouble I’m having is in picking the right saw. To best of my knowledge, it seems that a planer might be a good choice, as it can cut precise measurements at a really smooth surface (idea for painting). This would leave me with the task of cutting close-enough measurements with the chainsaw and then running them through the planer. A friend of mine recommended a chainsaw mill device that actually holds the chainsaw and allows it to be used sort of like a radial arm saw.. but I’m not sure..

Any advice in this area?!


For curing/drying the wood I’m thinking about using 1” sticks for spacing, stacking the wood in a closet in my home studio, as the temp is always at around 72F. Any advice in this area?

Thanks so much for your time and advice!


17 replies so far

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2247 days

#1 posted 12-23-2013 03:53 PM

Some more information would be helpful. You are wanting to cut 1/8” thick “rounds” out of the trunk?

-- Who is John Galt?

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2684 posts in 3096 days

#2 posted 12-23-2013 11:33 PM

Cutting to 1/8” will allow the wood to split while drying. You need to cut them to 1” allow to dry, at least a year and if dry enough down to 1/4” I would not try to get to 1/8”

-- No PHD just a DD214 Website>

View TreeWorks's profile


7 posts in 1790 days

#3 posted 12-24-2013 04:31 AM

I should have been more specific. I’m wanting to use both the trunk and some of its branches, for a mix of sizes ranging from 4” – 12”. And thanks Jim Finn, I actually didn’t mean to 1/8”, more like 1/2” or even 3/4”, and also 1” & 2”.

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3735 days

#4 posted 12-24-2013 04:37 AM

Don’t use the branches. They have “built in” (actually “grown in”) stress and will warp like crazy after they are cut.

-- Joe

View MT_Stringer's profile


3182 posts in 3405 days

#5 posted 12-24-2013 04:45 AM

If you are talking about ripping pieces lengthwise, you would need a band saw so you can resaw the logs into thinner pieces. Right?

With that said, read the specs carefully on band saws. Just because it says 14 inch doesn’t mean it can cut a 14 inch log. Most only allow about 5 1/2 inch thick material to pass through the blade. Now the throat (depth from blade to the back of the saw housing might be almost 14 inches.

Some saws can cut thicker material after adding a “riser” block. They are a few saws that do allow thicker material to be cut. The models vary. A 17 incher would probably be a good choice.

Check out You Tube for resawing lumber using a band saw.
Good luck.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View TreeWorks's profile


7 posts in 1790 days

#6 posted 12-24-2013 05:31 AM

One more detail, my wife has kiln she uses for pottery. Would this work for wood as well? I only know of lumber kilns..

View HerbC's profile


1790 posts in 3034 days

#7 posted 12-24-2013 09:16 AM


Your best bet on milling the log(s) into lumber would be to find someone who has a bandsaw sawmill and pay them to mill the lumber to the rough size (thickness) you need. A chainsaw would waste a lot of wood in the wide kerf it cuts. Do not try to run the freshly milled lumber through a planer before drying it.

Do NOT put the lumber in a closet to “dry” it. You need airflow to carry the moisture away from the wood. Putting it in a closet will result in a LOT of mold and mildew.

Stack the wood for drying outside. Create a stable foundation (I used cement blocks for the base and then 2×4 and or 2×6 framework to support the stack. Use 1×1 stickers to provide spacing between the layers of lumber. For 1” thick pine, space the stickers no more than 2 ft apart, closer if the lumber is thinner. Cover the top of stack with something to shield it from sun and rain (old plywood, old roofing tin, etc). Do NOT cover the stack with a tarp (unless you build a frame to hold it up away from the wood so it won’t trap the moisture under the tarp.

The ceramics kiln would not be suitable for drying lumber. It get too hot and does not provide for a decent flow of air. You might want to build a small solar or dehumidifier kiln. Google should find several sources for plans and ideas.

Good Luck!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View TreeWorks's profile


7 posts in 1790 days

#8 posted 12-24-2013 11:09 AM

Thanks for all of the feedback, everyone. Glad I found this forum because I’ve already learned a few valuable things that just saved me a ton of headache, such as the mistake of drying the wood in the closet! I live in Florida, are you sure my state’s weather (mostly hot and humid when it isn’t raining) is appropriate for drying wood outside? Would a garage work?

Also, here’s a link to give you an idea of just what I’m trying to do:

Herbc, thanks a lot for the advice. I don’t happen to know anyone with a mll saw… anything else that I might be able to use? I’ve got a few hundred bucks I spend on a saw… or possibly rent one..

Ajosephg recommended not using branches as they will split, how big of an issue is this? I thought I might be able to use some branches, say 4” or 5”+ for smaller little canvas cuts. The idea here is the same as in the picture above, to create 1/2” width cuts on smaller lumbar with the bark still intact.

Again, thanks A LOT for all of the sound advice. Really glad I found this forum!


View Wildwood's profile


2449 posts in 2309 days

#9 posted 12-24-2013 02:18 PM

Think your project more involved than cutting down a pine tree and turning into canvas wood slabs. You can certainly cut down your tree and slab into various thickness with a chain saw. Now getting uniform thickness a planner can handle, have my doubts.

Might work a little better is cut down the tree, cut logs into manageable pieces (18” to 24” long). End seal with something like Anchor Seal or Green Wood Sealer. Stack those logs out of the weather and direct sun light, allowing air circulation to bring down moisture content. Since pine, think three to six months.

IMO, when it comes time to slab those smaller logs onto canvas wood slabs. A band saw with proper blade, and band saw sled only way to go. Would shoot for 3/8” to ½” thickness.

Now for real dilemma, do you re-seal that end grain on both sides canvas wood slab again? I would knowing still a chance of checking and cracking in storage. After re-sealing, would weigh each slab with a postage scale and record it! Would weigh until slabs no longer losing weight. Once slab stops losing weight wood has reached ECM, and ready for scraping off end sealer, planner & use.

-- Bill

View HerbC's profile


1790 posts in 3034 days

#10 posted 12-24-2013 03:06 PM


I also live in Florida. I’m in Panama City. Our climate IS rather humid but you can successfully dry lumber outside here using the procedure I discussed above. The air-dried lumber in our area will get down to the range of 10% in most cases. If that’s not dry enough for your projects you can further dry small pieces in a microwave oven at low power or in a oven at very low temperatures. Some people have reported good luck drying small quantities lumber to lower moisture level by stacking it in the attic.

Even small, short logs like Bill (Wildwood) mentioned, will not dry quickly throughout the log if left unmilled with the bark on. I had Cypress milled which had been logged for three years and it was still very wet inside when we milled it.

You might be surprised to find that there are probably people in your area that have a sawmill. You might find them by looking in craigslist or at websites that include a lot of people who participate in that activity such as the Forestry Forum.

-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Wildwood's profile


2449 posts in 2309 days

#11 posted 12-24-2013 04:50 PM

Drying wood is simply a water removal process. How a freshly cut log loses water weight or how we dry wood think evaporation. Since will lose water weight from ends of a log faster than through sides end sealing slows down that loss.

Wood on outside of log dries faster than center of the log. On hardwood, we say sapwood dries faster than heartwood. On pine may not be able to distinguish sap from heartwood. Plus, some pine species very resinous not talked about previously.

Unless you slow down drying process will end up with worthless wood. Yes, will need to adapt your procedure a little based upon relative humidity where you live.

Cutting logs into manageable lengths and end sealing& bark on the log just first part of control drying process. Also, need proper storage, air circulation, and time. You can definitely tell a difference by lifting a freshly small cut log and that same log after a few months.

Processing that small log into even thinner slabs will also shorten dry process even further. I recommend re-sealing those slabs because have end grain front & back. If that pine is very resinous might alter my thinking somewhat. Set aside to dry further. For thin slabs, a postal scale easiest way to track weight loss, once weight remains constant or not gaining or losing weight wood is ready for intended use.
Leaving the bark on slows down the drying process & part of the charm of wood slab canvas.

-- Bill

View TreeWorks's profile


7 posts in 1790 days

#12 posted 12-26-2013 04:30 AM

Thanks for the advice, folks. Lots of options here, but I’m still unclear on a good sawing option. I am looking into someone local with a mill saw but then the problem arises in transporting the lumber to them, etc. If I can manage this at home I’d much rather do it myself.

To be clear, I’m going for a width cut on the lumbar, not a length cut typical to getting long boards.
Here’s a picture:

Would anyone recommend a chainsaw mill? I’ve looked into jigsaws as someone suggested above but they get really expensive for a powerful one that is also large enough to cut several + inch thick lumber.

Much appreciate on the drying information, I’m looking further into this. Can this be done in my large garage? It’s fairly vented..

Happy Christmas, everyone!

View Wildwood's profile


2449 posts in 2309 days

#13 posted 12-26-2013 03:30 PM

A chain saw mill will slice a log along the grain of wood.

If want wood cut along the grain get a chain saw mill. sticker and stack in your garage until wood reaches ECM. Follow procedure already mentioned above

The picture you keep showing us with bark shows log cut across the grain.

If want bark on all side cut logs across grain with just a chain saw and follow procedures already explained previously. Let short logs hang out in garage for few months, before cutting into slabs.

Will need some end sealer no matter which route you go. Other optional gear might be postage scale, or inexpensive moisture meter, and or band saw.

-- Bill

View a1Jim's profile


117276 posts in 3751 days

#14 posted 12-26-2013 04:12 PM

Lots of good information here, I noticed a couple folks told you to seal your wood after cutting it and about it drying quicker on the outside verses the inside but i’m not sure they said why,simple put it will crack big this.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View hobby1's profile


344 posts in 2472 days

#15 posted 12-26-2013 04:46 PM

As an alternative, have you considered, making your own slabs, from wood already processed, and given them your own freeform look.

For example:

If you consider it, Charles Neil, has a very imformative way of making slabs loook like they have bark on them, you can visit his website, at,
and look in his “video tips”, “called creating a live edge”, you may find his instructions very helpful.

showing 1 through 15 of 17 replies

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