I cut a couple of 8' 6" long basswood logs in June of this year. I finally
got them sawed into 4 X 4's and planks last week.
I had not coated the ends of the logs with anything. Now, of course, there
is some end cracking. I did paint the ends of the sawed wood yesterday with
some old white paint.
My next step is to sticker them in an attic (with plenty of ventilation)
above my woodshop to dry.
Here's the question:
Should I saw off the cracked ends and repaint them before I put them up
to dry? Or--- has most of the damage already been done?
I doubt they have dried significantly, so they may check a little
more. There is likely a good bit more drying to be done. If the
present checking is not too long, up the length of the boards, cover/
wrap the checked areas (rather than paint, lengthwise, along the board
faces). Maintain the painted ends.
I wouldn't cut off the checked ends, yet. Do your cutting when you're
ready to do the future project, when the boards are dry enough for
doing the future project.
Most useful lumber, in a home, is in lengths of 8' or less. Most
lumber is milled in lengths a bit beyond 8', as you did. This extra
length allows for checked ends to be cut off, later, hence fitting the
8' or less in-home use. I've always cut my logs, or had them cut, to
9', so as to have 6" cutoff allowance on each end.
End grain wicks moisture out of the wood faster that the face,
encouraging splits due to uneven drying. Painting the ends helps slow
this down, waxing slows it down a lot. I've had great success melting
wax with an old steam iron (less the steam) into the end grain. I've
also melted wax on a whole entire lamp I turned green with good success.
Splits can and will still occur just due to internal stresses in the
wood, to varying degrees, but waxing helps a LOT in my experience.
Unless you are using a kiln, a 4x4 is not likely to dry in 6 months, my
guess is more damage could/will occur.
Add Life to your Days not Days to your Life.
A couple of area lumber mill owners who air dry, or partially air dry
have told me the rule of thumb is 1" of thickness / year (SE Kansas
and SW Missouri = humid). Both air dry for a few months and then put
it into a kiln to get it into the 6%-9% range.
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