rough sawn expectations

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by fumehappy posted 10-20-2014 05:49 PM 1165 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View fumehappy's profile


137 posts in 2215 days

10-20-2014 05:49 PM

So i ordered some 6×6 hemlock timbers from a local sawmill for a project. Two of them were 10 foot and the rest were 8 foot. I didn’t feel comfortable driving over a large mountain with them in a 5.5 foot bed so I scheduled a delivery. The owner showed up and was a decent fellow. I noticed that the timbers seemed heavy as we unloaded.
The next day, as I was cutting my tenons, i noticed that the wood was quite green. Practically tree wet. It was made more apparent when i found one in the pile that was seasoned, with telltale oxidation on the wood, that was about 30% less heavy then the other ones. Also, I found that not all the 6×6’s were in fact 6×6… several measured 5 1/2 inches on a side, and more than few were out of square. One or two were practically trapezoid shaped.

I was expecting timber that was 6×6 inches exactly or a touch over, and fairly square with a rough texture for “rough sawn”.

So my question: Are my expectations unreasonable, or did I just get screwed?


11 replies so far

View 1371Marine's profile


23 posts in 1305 days

#1 posted 10-20-2014 06:29 PM

Unless you were specific on the “actual” size of the timbers you were ordering, I’d say the size is near correct. They should be pretty square though. As for being green, if you didn’t order kiln dried lumber, you got “sawmill grade lumber. In answer to your question, I’d say a little of both. Just my 2 cents.

View CharlesA's profile


3312 posts in 1761 days

#2 posted 10-20-2014 06:47 PM

The dryness issue is one thing. At the sawmills around here offer kiln dried lumber—one would have to special order green lumber. HF has a cheap moisture meter can give at least a rough level of what you got.

I can see your disappointment at the squareness and straightness. I sometimes have to paw through a stack of wood at the sawmill to find what I find acceptable. I would think 6×6 hemlock is not the most common lumber out there, so it may a bit of you get what you get.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View mds2's profile


310 posts in 1907 days

#3 posted 10-20-2014 06:59 PM

I buy from two different mills. One sells kiln dried lumber and the other sells lumber as is, moisture-wise. The “as-is” mill stacks everything to be air dried, but if it isnt dry and you want it they’ll sell it to you.

View Minorhero's profile


373 posts in 2568 days

#4 posted 10-20-2014 08:35 PM

Every saw mill I have seen sells rough cut lumber to be at least the size requested. 6” lumber is 24/4. 5.5” lumber is 22/4. After it gets finished (and if its being sold as surfaced 3 or 4 sided then thats different) then you can expect to lose at least 1/4 inch. To my mind if they are selling wood a full half inch smaller then they are definitely in the wrong. Just because the lumber you are buying is big doesn’t mean they get to misrepresent what size it actually is.

Greeness is a different question. If they said it was dried and its not then yea you got screwed. If they didn’t say then no you didn’t. Some local saw mills sell nothing but green. They don’t even own a kiln. Others sell only kiln dried.

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3065 days

#5 posted 10-20-2014 09:35 PM

When you say Local Sawmill. Are you talking about a one man show or a mill that employs fifty people.
Most of the local sawmills I have dealt with are the one man show variety. I have found it wise to spend some time “shooting the breeze” with the sawer.
Questions like “circular blade or bandsaw blade?” are good to know.
“What is the actual cut size?” Many of my purchases have been tax free. (Cash talks)
“When will my wood be ready?”
Some places have your sizes already cut up and sitting to dry if they have had slow months. Others are so busy they can hardly keep up.
At the box stores…....what you see is usually what you get.

So my question: Are my expectations unreasonable, or did I just get screwed?

You have to make the call….................

-- mike...............

View WDHLT15's profile


1730 posts in 2439 days

#6 posted 10-21-2014 12:19 AM

6×6 timbers takes several years to dry, at least.

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

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3548 days

#7 posted 10-22-2014 08:01 PM

IMHO it is just not worth buying green timber for anything. In my experience it is usually more trouble than it is worth.Waiting, and waiting ,to be able to use it ,sometimes a long time years even.Then checking, craking , warping, etc ,etc. I would rather Just pay the money and get kiln dried timber.I bought a few books on woodturning green timber,It turns out that doing such a thing is a long term nightmare sorry not worth it IMHO.
The only saving grace is for smaller bowl blanks it seems you can make a kiln quite cheaply with the aid of a dehumidifier which I have but I have nooot tried it yet. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2934 days

#8 posted 10-22-2014 08:20 PM

If it is green it will lose another 1/4 to shrinkage when it is dry.

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2921 days

#9 posted 10-22-2014 09:39 PM

I would deem it reasonable to expect the wood to have been sawn at 6”, and to be square. As to how dry, I don’t think that should be an issue unless you specifically requested it to be at a given moisture content. Generic timbers are rarely kiln dried. They will shrink some as they dry, but 1/2” seems like a lot. Screwed? Maybe, maybe not; I’d say yes on quality (squareness), but no on dryness. Next time you’ll know to ask more pointed questions.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 1484 days

#10 posted 10-22-2014 09:52 PM

When you say “sawmill” instead of “lumber yard”, I assume green lumber unless the sawyer states that it’s been drying for “X” number of years or months, or he has drying services.

However, in my opinion, no matter what type of facility it is, I expect the wood to be square and within tolerances dimensionally. That is, within, say 6% or 7% of the specified dimension, when dry, and always at least the stated length.

Sometimes it can be bowed or twisted, but that’s a grading issue. If you order 1sts and 2nds, the lumber should be pretty darn straight.

I’d call him. Maybe he doesn’t know one of his employees is drinking on the job.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18684 posts in 2531 days

#11 posted 10-22-2014 09:56 PM

I think a rough sawn 6×6 should be 6” square. I’ve got a small cheap bandsaw mill and sometime things don’t always come out perfect, so my 6×6s will get cut 6 1/4 +/- x 6 1/4 +/-.

As for green, it should have been part of the purchase conversation. I’d say that’s a 50/50 blame.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics