air drying oak fiasco - salvageable?


I was given 3 large white oak trees back in May. Had 'em cut up at a sawmill and ended up with 400BF of 4/4 varying in width from 8 to 16 inches and mostly 8 to 9 feet long. Not wanting to give up so much shop room to air dry this wood, I put it outside at the back of my yard in a mostly shady area. I put one layer of 2x4's on the ground, then stacked and stickered the oak with 3/4" thick stickers I cut from scraps. I put cement blocks on the top of each stack. Then I put an 8' x 8' canopy over it with the legs collapsed so that the canopy was only 3 feet off the ground. I filled in around the edges with some old luan paneling to keep the rain off.
I think I did everything wrong. Limited air circulation. And down here in the deep South we get some hellacious afternoon thunderstorms - wind and rain, sometimes daily. Well, the ends of the boards were getting wet. Not good. After two months in the elements, I finally decided to "make room" in the shop and bring the wood inside. I'm glad I did. While the boards in the center up high under the canopy were looking good, the boards on the edges and down low were not. My stickers were molding as high as 18" up the stack. It was damp everywhere except high center under the canopy. The boards next to the ground had mold on them.. There were snails and other creepy crawly things living in there. I cleaned up the boards best I could. None seem to be warped, twisted or cupped, but some have a very musty odor. They are now in the shop with new 3/4" stickers and a dehumidifier running next to the stacks. Moisture content is 20 percent, same as it was the day the trees were cut. Actually, I think my moisture meter only reads to a maximum of 20 percent......
Any thoughts on how salvageable my "gloat" is?
Thanks.
Bob
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Here's a forum that might best answer your question: http://www.woodweb.com/cgi-bin/forums/sawdry.pl
I personally don't think you'll know the damage to the bottom boards until you mill them. The rest were probably gotten to in time to salvage them. Good thing you're an attentive person. A lot of folks would have set it up and gone back in a couple of months.

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You might get some spalting with the mold. It could make the wood very pretty.
Alan
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wrote:

Spalting would be unusual with oak. You're more likely to get permanent dark staining. Oak stains if it gets iron anywhere near it and this can even include dissolved iron from water that has passed through masonry. With rainwater you might be OK, but just splashing from a nearby brick wall can be enough to cause this permanent staining.
Oxalic acid is you best hope fro trying to lighten any of this staining, but it's probably permanent to some degree.
I have a stack of 2" thick wide oak boards that got damp in storage. I'm using them for Jacobean repro work with a liquid ammonia darkening (super-fuming). So long as I want a dark timber anyway, it's still fine to use.
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SNIP of a guy who didn't go to http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/ for stacking info.

Imagine there are some nice water stains down there. The rest? Are they still straight? Even though you didn't give them the ground clearance a stack demands, if you had them on a good planar surface, you can get most of what you want out of them if they're straight.
The site above will return a lot of good info on stacking for dry and stacking for storage.
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