When working with Cedar ?

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Forum topic by Tmtoolman posted 06-11-2014 05:28 AM 1644 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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40 posts in 1695 days

06-11-2014 05:28 AM

Topic tags/keywords: cedar

Today I picked up a load of cedar wood from a small mill in Tenn and was wondering how dry should cedar be before using for a project ?
I know the wood came off the mill on Friday and the trees were most likely cut within the last 2 weeks. Add to that for the last week or 2 we have had lots of rain and the order was sitting outside but off the ground. The cedar will be used in my wife’s kitchen for wainscoting. I had him cut 50—(1/2”x 6” x 8’) and 25—(1”x 4 ” x 8’).
I will use the 1×4s as chair rail and base board. Each board will have a trip through the planer and I plan to use a clear finish. I will have some questions about that in another post in the proper forum.
Tomorrow I plan to sticker and stack everything in the shop and put a fan on it in hopes of drying it out so I can use it. The shop is just that, A metal building, No AC and No heat. I can keep track of the moisture content with meter. For now I have a few 8’ pallets and will rotate the wood in hopes of everything drying about the same time.
After the 140 mile trip home in the pouring rain this wood is WET !!! Any chance I could get it dry enough to use in about 30 days ? The wife can get impatient, so I just have to keep her distracted. But a man can only do so much of that.
Have a nice day and thanks for any and all reply’s.

T. L.
 photo IMG_20140610_135417_321.jpg
 photo IMG_20140610_135437_481.jpg

-- Turning fine wood into sawdust !

13 replies so far

View Paul's profile


721 posts in 1589 days

#1 posted 06-11-2014 05:41 AM

30 days from rough sawn lumber, no. You’re looking at 1” per year. I personally wouldn’t cut it for a few years. Sticker them and dream for a bit.


View Crank50's profile


173 posts in 1601 days

#2 posted 06-11-2014 06:00 AM

For air drying a rule of thumb is one year of drying per inch of thickness.
I think a fan in a building with un-conditioned air could possibly reduce the time somewhat.
I just dried 500 board feet of 8/4 (2 inch) Cherry enough to build an island cabinet in about 14 months like that.

I think you might be pushing it to dry 4/4 (1 inch) wood in 30 days; even in a kiln.
Certainly not in humid Tennessee summer conditions.

I have heard of using a room dehumidifier in a sealed box with controlled air flow to dry lumber in a few weeks.
A fellow on another forum I used to frequent sold plans for these DH kilns. I’ll try to find that information.

Another option is to build a solar kiln. I have read where these can dry wood in about 6 weeks. Your 1/2 inch material should dry faster than that.

Lastly, I noticed you seem overly concerned about surface water. Rain on your wood while transporting it, etc. That is not the moisture you have to be worried about. It is the internal moisture that has to be removed. And the shrinkage of the wood that will take place when it is dry has to happen before you build anything from it. And that shrinkage can be substantial. I built a work bench out of green wet poplar about 15 years ago. After it dried the top was 3 inches narrower.

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2379 days

#3 posted 06-11-2014 08:16 AM

You want it between 12 and 16% moisture content….

This is not oak, it will dry much much faster than 1” per year, and may already be somewhat dryed at the mill.

It really just depends on where it’s at now, and where you are as your climate conditions have a direct effect on drying times. Go to harbor freight and pick up a cheap moisture meter. That will be your best way of knowing when it is in fact ready.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View lunn's profile


215 posts in 2333 days

#4 posted 06-11-2014 10:51 AM

Your main problem is resin bleeding from the knots if not dry. Lesson learned the hard way.

-- What started as a hobbie is now a full time JOB!

View WDHLT15's profile


1747 posts in 2500 days

#5 posted 06-11-2014 11:52 AM

Eastern red cedar is about the fastest drying wood out there. The fans will help greatly, plus many of your boards are only 1/2” think. Plus, you have a moisture meter. Keep your stack width narrow, say 3’ wide, and that will also speed up drying. 1” stickers versus 3/4” stickers will also speed up drying. If you run the fans 24/7, I bet that you will be close if not all the way air dry (about 15%) in 4 – 6 weeks in Tennessee. Keep the shop ventilated so that the water vapor from the drying wood has a way to escape the building so that it does not re-condense back on your tools and stuff. You would probably want the moisture content to be below 10% before using it inside a heated and cooled space, so once the wood reaches 15% or so, re-stack it inside your house for a week or two, and I bet that you will be there.

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

View Ocelot's profile


1980 posts in 2662 days

#6 posted 06-11-2014 02:32 PM

According to the charts I’ve seen, aromatic cedar also shrinks less in drying than most woods.

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2097 days

#7 posted 06-11-2014 06:27 PM

Here is what a stack of cedar drying can look like. Now I was running an AC when I did this, but I took this from very wet %20 to %8 in ten days. Cedar can dry very fast under the right conditions. Note: there is a box fan on the other end as well that can’t be seen. Edit: Yours look a lot thicker, but the only way to know is start them drying!!

-- Who is John Galt?

View HerbC's profile


1763 posts in 2884 days

#8 posted 06-11-2014 07:55 PM

+1 on the advice from WDHLT15.

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

View Crank50's profile


173 posts in 1601 days

#9 posted 06-11-2014 08:52 PM

joeyinsouthaustin, I have to ask if you checked the moisture content at different places along the length of those boards. Was there no difference between the end and the middle?
The reason I ask is that it seems to me the air from the fan would be blocked when it hit the first sticker.
Would that not work better if you blew the air across the width of the stack instead of the length. That’s the way I have always seen it done; even at the sawmill, except their fans were 6 ft in diameter.

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2097 days

#10 posted 06-13-2014 03:40 PM

Crank50 Yes I did check along the whole board. Your point is a good one, and I should note it if I post that pic again. For my purposes if you look on the wall, there are two AC units… (this was taken in my shop office) and the air return intake from both effectively pull air right through the center, so the fans are helping to circulate at the ends. I have used that pic a couple of times and never thought about how I was getting my cross draft. Good catch.. thanks for pointing that out.

-- Who is John Galt?

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 1545 days

#11 posted 06-13-2014 08:11 PM

”... so the fans are helping to circulate at the ends.” – joeyinsouthaustin

Since moisture most easily exits boards from the ends and because dry ends versus middles contributes to checking, I question whether you need fans at the ends at all. It seems to me like they would do the most good blowing on the sides of the stack, notwithstanding the air conditioners.

View nicksmurf111's profile


367 posts in 1475 days

#12 posted 06-13-2014 08:29 PM

Has anyone ran a dehumidifier for drying lumber? I see it mentioned above. Mine is all in my fairly leaky garage, but I have my basement shop dehumidified.

-- Nicholas

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2097 days

#13 posted 06-13-2014 11:04 PM

You all are all right… but it worked great and there was no checking. Cedar is quite forgiving to dry, so quite frankly I did what was expedient. The pile I dried after this, I had set in the shop, with the fans off to the side.. I just don’t have a picture of that one. I tried to defend my stack, but alas.. it all got planed down and turned into shutters, none the less. :)

-- Who is John Galt?

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