Help with Cherry that doesn't stop moving.

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Forum topic by pidaster posted 12-28-2014 11:49 PM 1538 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 1943 days

12-28-2014 11:49 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question cherry planer jointer milling cutting board cupping movement warping

I had a cherry tree milled last summer, they plain sawed it and kiln dried it down to 6%-7%. It’s awfully warped, cupped, and twisted. I took some of it and cut it into short pieces of about 2’ long and 3” wide, joint and planed, let it sit inside for 2-3 weeks, joint and planed again, let sit for another 2-3 weeks, joint and planed again if needed, and glued up a few boards for a face grain cutting board. I make sure it stays dead flat before I do my final routing and sanding. I’ve had a few cutting boards stay completely flat, and a few that move again after I’ve put mineral oil on them.
This is really aggravating and I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong.
I also had some catalpa that moved on me after I glued it up for a jewelry box even though it was flat for a week inside the house. I go do the work in the shop and then bring it back inside when I’m done.

What do I need to do to stop this?

10 replies so far

View pjones46's profile


1001 posts in 2666 days

#1 posted 12-29-2014 08:29 AM

Sounds like it is being stored outside where it is absorbing ambient moisture and may have not been stacked and stuck for storage correctly with lots of weight on top of it. Was it cupped, warped and twisted when you first got it? If it was not then it is absorbing moister.

Not much of a solution other than take it into a heated dry space and stack and stick it with very heavy weight on top. I have never had much luck with trying to straighten wet twisted wood. Depending on the moisture it could take up 10 months to get it out when air drying.

Once dry try to match up directions of grain when you use it so it expands and contracts at the same rate.

-- Respectfully, Paul

View Minorhero's profile


373 posts in 2628 days

#2 posted 12-29-2014 11:40 AM

Some wood is just reactive like this and there is no fixing it. Doesn’t matter how dry it is. If you had the tree on your property then you might know if the tree was growing on a side of a hill? trees that grow on hills are VERY prone to being reactive. It apparently has to do with how the growth of the tree occurs to try and compensate for gravity pulling it the other way. Also tree limbs are usually useless for woodworking except turning for this very reason. Only trunks and then only ones that are not growing sideways are useful for woodworking.

View pidaster's profile


10 posts in 1943 days

#3 posted 12-29-2014 11:57 AM

The tree was on flat land and grew straight. When I got the lumber back from the mill it was kiln dried and cupped/ twisted.
It’s currently stored in a dry, non-climate controlled area. After I cut it to approximate size it comes inside the house to acclimate.
I can’t help but think they dried it too fast in the kiln.

View levan's profile


472 posts in 3002 days

#4 posted 12-29-2014 12:22 PM

I believe you answered your own question. It’s called case hardening, and it causes the wood to act exactly like what you describe. It’s to bad, but I don’t think anything can be done now to correct it. Find another tree and different mill to dry it.
best wishes

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View Wildwood's profile


2322 posts in 2157 days

#5 posted 12-29-2014 12:44 PM

Plain sawing easiest way to mill lumber but there are some drawbacks too! An experienced mill operator will look at growth rings, amount of sap wood to heart wood and tell best way to mill a log.

As the wood dries and ages, the tension of the tangential grain can make plain sawn planks cup, twist and sometimes bow. They also tend to absorb more moisture from the air which can also lead to unwanted movement.

Also improper kiln drying operation does not help. Just because wood went through kiln drying cycle does not mean will keep the same MC. Wood strives to reach EMC with its environment. Relative humidity will change wood MC.

Do not know where you live or average relative humidity for your area but would not cut any more wood until it gets acclimatized (EMC). If do not have a moisture meter, use a bathroom scale. Divide boards into bundles that will fit on the scale. Either number each board in the bundle or tie into a bundle with string. Weigh bundles and record weight weekly. When bundles stop gaining-losing weight for two or three weeks they have reached EMC.
Equilibrium moisture content (EMC) occurs when the wood has reached a water content equilibrium with its environment and is no longer gaining or losing moisture. Actual use ECM is plus/minus 1 or 2%.

Bought this meter back when darling of woodworking message boards for $10. They raised the price but see it is on sale for $20 at my local Lowes. Will get you in the ball park of where you are now, and tell you where need to be.

-- Bill

View bobro's profile


320 posts in 1333 days

#6 posted 12-29-2014 03:13 PM

Way too dry way too fast.

I get cherry from a sawyer in the country, air dried a year a centimeter (so, 2 1/2 years an inch) and you could use it for a ruler, except at the edges of the tree, that’s always going to move a little no matter what.

-- Lao Ma: You are so full of anger and hatred. Xena: Everybody's gotta be full of something.

View bonesbr549's profile


1557 posts in 3090 days

#7 posted 12-29-2014 03:36 PM

Others have given you the answers. Looks like the sawyer/dryer did not know what they were doing. It takes some skill to do it right. If the sawyer does not cut it right, problems can occur, and add to that a fast dryer that is not skilled to do it right, you end up with kindling.

You could keep it and use in places where it won’t matter, but I’d stay away from it for doors and such. Shame.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


4204 posts in 2332 days

#8 posted 03-14-2015 11:40 PM

+1 the kiln operator must know what he’s doing.

Do you have a moisture meter to verify the MC of your wood?

When you milled it in your shop did you leave it so air could circulate around all sides of the wood?

No matter how wood is treated it will move when the MC changes. Wood is like a sponge, it absorbes and releases moisture depending on the moisture in the air (humidity). If you store it outside where it’s 80% humidity and take it into your shop at 40% humidity it’s going to move until it reaches the Equilibrium Moisture Content in your shop.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View pidaster's profile


10 posts in 1943 days

#9 posted 03-22-2015 12:33 PM

My shop is not climate controlled so before I build anything, I bring the wood inside my house for about a month.
I do have a moisture meter and the cherry was at 6-7%. I have the cherry in my grandfathers shop right now for storage. I’m going to let it sit for a while, then try again later.

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2537 days

#10 posted 03-22-2015 01:00 PM

I bought a large load of cherry from a fellow in SW Pennsylvania, stacked in the snow, in the winter of 2002-2003. Didn’t have a real way to dry it, so I stacked it in our storage locker for the summer of 2003. Those suckers must get hot and dry, because that wood came out flat and dry, around 6%. We left SW Pennsylvania in 2004, the wood part of our belongings. Moved to North Mississippi for 14 months, then to SE Tennessee where we’ve lived since. I still have three planks left, and plan on making a golf club hat rack out of some if it starting today.

My thoughts? Your tree was cut in the summer, when it was full of water. Mine was cut in the winter, when the wood was dormant. Your wood probably was kiln dried too fast, and it takes and gives ambient moisture between your shop and your house, causing it to move. Mine was slow air dried over half year in a hot/day, cold/night storage locker.

My storage locker might have acted somewhat like a slow kiln – since the wood was in there for about six months. I lost about 15% to splitting in the drying process, but almost all of it stayed straight and flat, and it was simply flatsawn. Oh, and it was left unplaned until I used it. About 1” to 1 1/1/8” thick planks, random widths and lengths.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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