I lost a fairly large elm tree during the last storm.
I remembered seeing a chain saw attachment in a HF add. I figured...why not?
Didn't like the enclosed instructions, so I built a plywood jig with a 2x4
guide. Incredibly enough, the crazy contraption worked.
I now am in the possession of 8-approx. 48"x12"x1.5" and 4-approx.
96"x12"x1.5" pieces of very very rough-cut lumber.
Now my question. Should I just air dry these boards without any further
shaping or plaining, i.e. leave the bark on the edges and the surfaces
rough, or would it be better to trim it up?
As you may have been able to surmise,I never expected to get to this stage
of the program. So please feel free to lend me any expertise y'all may have
on the "art" of air drying home-cut lumber.
I say sticker them as is. You also might goop the ends with something
to slow drying from that area. Provide good support when stickering,
and protect them from the elements. Allow about a year per inch,
unless you're in a hotter, drier climate. Tom
They have to be properly stickered and air-dried preferably under
cover or yu run the very real risk of ruining the boards, not good.
Stickers are just sticks that are the width of your stack. They are
placed between the boards to provide for air flow.
Kiln dried 1x2 makes very good stickers. I place mine every 24".
Make sure the stack is well above the ground and that the stickers and
supports are directly above the one below. Cover the top of the stack
with something to keep the rain off but leave the sides exposed.
You never want bark on you boards so edging them is always done
before stacking. This usually means sizing the boards as well. I size
my boards to the nearest inch so I might have 2x4, 2x5, 2x6, like
that. So, pop a line and saw off one edge. Ripping green wood with a
circular saw can be done. I edge mine on the sawmill but will
sometime rip later with a worm drive.
Then measure to the nearest inch on the other edge and pop another
line. Or, you can leave them a random width, just cutting off enough
to get a good edge. Or, you could use a draw-knife to remove the
bark. It conserves wood and some will incorporate the wavy edge into
A couple of years ago I had a large elm tree cut down, sawed into
lumber, stacked, stickered, covered and ends painted.
Last year I dug through the pile and have never seen boards as warped,
twisted, cupped and every other type of misshapedness. I was able to
use a few of the boards and the grain is quite different from most of
the typical woods I work with. Hope your drying experience is better
There is no doubt that air drying is risky compared to a dry kiln. A
dry kiln is expensive though. There are large operations which air
dry exclusively so it works for at least some people. There is some
waste in any pile but air drying will almost always cause more
It will partly depend upon the way the wood was cut. If the wood was
"live sawn" then it can be cut quickly and you get more boards. You
also get more of the problems you mention.
When you cut "on the cant" you take your board from the side of the
log this "side wood" if of a higher quality than wood from the center
of the log where the wood is of a lower quality. It slow down the
work since the cant has to be turned four times to reach the final
When you are done cutting the side wood then you are left with a final
cant of a certain width determined in advance by the sawyer. You
determine what size cant you want to be left with and then you
subtract the desired width of the boards including the blade width to
make the cuts.
The final cant can be left as a dimentional timber, which is the best
use for it. If it is cut into boards, however, then you will get more
of the twisting and cupping you describe in those boards. It does
give you more boards which is what some people think they want.
Do you know by which method your wood was sawn?
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