Wood slab table advice

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Forum topic by kivel posted 08-14-2014 04:26 AM 1178 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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42 posts in 1385 days

08-14-2014 04:26 AM

Topic tags/keywords: wood slab cookie trunk tree table top advice plane saw question tip

Hey guys,
I’ve done some work in plaque making/odd jobs so I know an “average” amount of info about wood working. But I ran across a tree on the side of the road that the city cut down. Well long story short, I acquired some 5in thick wood slabs (I believe birch) that are about 3’wide 4’long. I know I need to dry them , but have no idea for how long( I live in Southern California) and the slabs have a u-shape bow in them., which is bugging me because I want to get in there and cut straight slabs, but don’t have a big enough saw to do so. I’m guessing i need to find a saw mill…and I don’t know if I should attempt to get it straight before or after it dries.
I heard some where that it takes an average of 1 year per in of wood thickness… Any truth to that? Especially since I’m in a desert environment.
Also, I’m thinking of cutting the slab to half the thickness to maximize profit, and possibly keep one for myself… Any reason not to?

So i need to know how I can cut the 4’ slab in half (thickness) or how to plane it down to level. Will a hand plane work?
And how long to dry, or how do I know it’s ready to be worked with.

Any help is appreciated.

3 replies so far

View Jake's profile


850 posts in 1626 days

#1 posted 08-14-2014 07:19 AM

IF you intend to half the thickness you should do it before the log dries, makes things easier. As far as I know 1” per year is the standard rate, a dry desert might be quicker, but for a 2,5” slab you are looking at 2 years anyhow.

In addition, for such a short slab you need to seal the ends right away, otherwise you will have huge problems with checking. Depending where the log is is from (which part of the tree) you might get bad checking anyway.

And I would not bother trying to get it flat before you have gotten it resawn – resawing will release some stress in the wood and before doing that you will have no way of telling what exactly the new slab will do. Once you have resawn it, I would juts sticker it, put some weight on it and let it dry and deal with the cup/twist once the slabs are dry.

-- Measure twice, cut once, cut again for good measure.

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2953 days

#2 posted 08-15-2014 05:28 PM

The “1 inch per year” thing is too average to be relied upon; if you dried ebony that way then douglas fir you would have wet ebony and dried fir for 3/4 of the waiting time. It is a rule of thumb, absolutely not scientific. Wood moves as it dries, and it pretty much does what it wants to. What you do with it now, to me anyway, depends on its current moisture content. If it is still quite wet, say over 50%, then it will move even more than it already has; halving it will allow you to end up with two bowed slabs instead of just one, potentially ruining the whole thing. If it has dried down to 30% or so, you may be ok. There are a few ways to flatten a piece of wood like that, using a router sled is 1 way that works well; a plane will work just as well. A friend of mine takes them and gets them close with a hand-held planer, then takes them to a shop with a big sander to finish them off. As you are in a desert environment the wood will dry very quickly, possibly too quickly causing plenty of splits, cracks, and cups/bows. I would recommend allowing it to dry down and make sure you get at least 1 good piece from it.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View kivel's profile


42 posts in 1385 days

#3 posted 08-16-2014 12:58 AM

I appreciate the help. I’m just going to put some weight on it and put it in the back of my shop and forget about it for a while. It’ll give me time to figure out how to build a router sled. It was just cut down a couple of days ago, so it’s still wet, but I saw the slab in the ditch and just had to have it. Again I appreciate the advice and I’m looking forward to working with it and passing it down in my family.

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