I'm sure this discussion has happened more than once on this site,
but I've been doing some reading up on wood lately. There's a local
guy who sells rough cut wood VERY inexpensively. All of his wood is
air dried. I've read that there is a strong preference for kiln dried
wood. I've only really used kiln dried myself till this point, I'm
wondering what people's experiences are about using air dried for
general WW purposes.
For production purposes, kiln dried tends to greater stability because the
moisture content on the low end is more readily controlled.
That said, I've been using primarily air dried solid wood for upwards of 15
years now with no ill results, IF enough care is taken. I use a moisture meter;
I allow a full year per inch; I try to do the last three to six months indoors,
in my shop is preferable to my basement, because it is drier. I've been away
from this area for a few years and have to relocate my wood sources, but I'll
be getting on a couple pick-up loads (real pick-ups, not the S10 toy I'm
currently driving) of red oak, as much white oak as I can get my hands on
(probably not a whole lot: it looks as if I'll actually have to buy QS white
oak, or rift sawn, through a cabinetmaker friend in S2S, which costs like
compared to what I'm used to paying...though he gets a pretty good deal). The
red oak and cherry that has been aging here is going to be just fine.
When you figure your losses on rough wood, especially if it begins green, you
can double the price for losses in drying, and then you're getting what might
be described as "log run" lumber, not graded stuff.
It's still worth it, IMO, but...
Another point: how dry is your source's wood. Where was it stored; how was it
stacked; was it stickered properly.
Unfortunately, saving money on wood requires both work and some extra
knowledge, but your way may be a very good way to get started.
"I think the most un-American thing you can say is, 'You can't say that.' "
a totally engrossing work about the builder and building. Several references
were made to drying lumber in a kiln.
In 1804 one of Thomas Jefferson'd builders, James Oldham, reported to
Jefferson that kiln-dried lumber was indeed just as serviceable as
air-dried, seasoned lumber, but "there is no such thing as a Kiln for dying
Lumber in Richmond." Oldham therefore built his own with not much luck. He
wrote, "Unfortunately for me Last nite about Twelve Oclock my plank kiln
took fiar and was intirly consumd."
Certainly not a complete history of the process, but it offers some record
of its use.
Ever notice any difference with air dried with respect to look (grain
differences, better color, etc.) when finishing?
I've heard old timer's say they can tell a difference, particularly with the
Walnut is one helluva lot prettier. It retains its coloring much better. You do
get greater variations from white sapwood in more areas...walnut sold as KD
these days is commonly, or so I'm told, steamed during drying, which creates a
more uniform color. I like the way it comes from the tree.
"I think the most un-American thing you can say is, 'You can't say that.'"
I buy almost all my wood either air dried or fresh cut and air dry it
myself. More often than not kiln dried wood has defects from being
dried to quickly. Unless it was left out in direct sun on a hot day,
air dried wood tends to dry more slowly. Ever have a board warp
terribly after you ripped it on the tablesaw? It *could* have been an
inherantly unstable board, but chances are it was kiln induced stresses.
There are some good kiln operators out there who don't ruin boards this
way, but my sampling of a half dozen or so yards is that the good ones
are few and far between. I've had very few issues with air dried wood
Scott Post email@example.com http://home.insightbb.com/~sepost /
Agreed. At the local yard (Northland Forest Products in VA), I find that
the 4/4 cherry is great, but the 8/4 and 12/4 often has internal checks
in it, or warps furiously if you resaw it. From what others on the wreck
have said, I suspect drying too fast is leading to case hardening.
Scott Post wrote:
This is a serious issue. I had the good fortune back in the 1970s to
connect with a hardwood yard that knew its stock and would tell me if
something had been abused in the kiln (and price it accordingly).
I got beautiful, properly dried quartered white oak, 4/4 planks, none
of which have ever so much as checked on the plank end. I also got
beech from which I could make rabbet planes without having to redress
the sole after the wedge hole, etc, were cut.
In another place I heard the proprietor on the phone, telling an
upstate kiln operator that he needed "that batch of walnut" right
away. Needless to say, I never bought anything from that guy.
There are tables of kiln cycles for all native hardwoods available,
and if you think of the inventory cost some of them entail, you can
understand the temptation to speed things up, but it does ruin a lot
of good lumber. There is a special place in hell for those people, I
Rodney Myrvaagnes NYC J36 Gjo/a
"Nuke the gay whales for Jesus" -- anon T-shirt
Once the first couple of "cycles" are over, it's all the same except drying
I do my own.
Once it's dried to your desired moisture content, it's dried. Wood dried by
either technique will absorb moisture if exposed to moisture levels higher
than they were dried to so it becomes somewhat moot after the fact. The
obvious advantage to kiln drying is speed. The disadvantages are that it
imparts some other peculiarities to the wood that air drying does not.
Because of the speed of the drying, kiln dried wood will often exhibit
stress problems when cut that air dried wood will typically not exhibit. I
prefer air dried wood myself, but to be honest, it's more because I like the
fact that it's a natural way of drying. Not that it means much, and I'm not
much of a natural way guy in most things, but for some reason air drying
just seems to strike me. Don't bother to try to figure it out - it must be
my hidden feminine side coming through or something Freudian.
I' ve used air dried wood for a few projects, but I'm very considerate
of the fact that air dried wood moves much more than K.D. If you use
"old Fasioned" wood work joints and allow the wood to move how it
wants (floating panels and drawer bottoms, slotted screw holes that
sorta thing ) just keep in mind that all wood will move a.d. or k.d.
and keeping long grain alligned as much as possible will really
minimize a peice tearing itself apart. Laminating wood is especially
troublesome. read about how it was done in the the begining of the 20
century. I doubt you'll have much problem if you plan well.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug) wrote in message
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