Drying a few cherry slabs, indoors? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 Old 08-28-2013, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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Drying a few cherry slabs, indoors?

Hi folks, by way of introduction, my name is Rad and I live on the eastern part of Virginia. I have been digesting the art and science of drying recently and learned that I need guidance. I appreciated the tone and quality of what I have seen on here and so, here goes


I have been tasked with building 300 feet of book shelves for my office and my mom is a fan of cherry.

My question is, what in the world do I need to do with 5, nine foot long cherry slabs I have sitting in the horse stables? The basic facts are:

- March 2013 cherry slabs cut (six months ago) 5 slabs, nine feet long, bark attached, about 18 inches wide
- Air dried on a mountain (3,000 ft) inside on a concrete floor, stickered, flat so far, and two ends have cracked.
- I brought them to my home last weekend which is on salt water
- They seller guessed the mc at 18%. He suggested against using them for furniture at this time. I told him I wanted to make counter tops.
- Changed my mind and want to use them for end supports of these extensive shelves.
- Two days ago I laid plastic, then a wooden pallet and stickered them in an empty horse stall
- Today I put one coat of latex paint on the ends. (will add another coat tomorrow)
- Today I looked for hours for a kiln to finish the drying, with no luck.
- Today I purchased a $30.00 moisture meter and measured the wood in the stable wall (14%) then the slabs (13%)
- Today I measured the wood inside of my home, kitchen cabinets (10%), unfinished pine cabinets in the living room (10%), kiln dried cherry (4/4) laying on the living room floor (6%)
- the average humidity in Virginia is 13%, they are destined to be used in climate controlled office.

Waiting another year or so would be ideal, but not practical today. Not having access to a kiln, I am a bit lost. I have spent a large amount of time reading on the science and art of drying, but am not better practiced than I was when I started. Building a solar kiln is not practical. With the small amount of investment in this wood, if a solution is time consuming, I will pass along the wood and use something else. My concern is, using this and then having issues in a completed piece of indoor furniture.

I am halfway thinking about building a plastic tent inside the home and putting a dehumidifier in it and see if I can get the mc down to between 5-8%. Guidance and feedback would be appreciated. (even if it is the advice given by a co-worker 2 years, which was to go to Costco and buy a bunch of pressboard shelves….. )

Obviously, with lumber inside the house, unfinished furniture sitting around and an option of drying in the living room, I am not married….smile..

I am marginally handy but have enjoyed 'thinking' about these shelves for several years. Analysis paralysis is a character fact with me.

So is long windedness. Thank you all for creating this informative environment. Rad

Last edited by VA_cherry_fan; 08-28-2013 at 10:00 PM.
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post #2 of 11 Old 08-28-2013, 10:10 PM
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post #3 of 11 Old 08-28-2013, 11:55 PM
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dehumidifier will work.........

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is."– Albert Einstein
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post #4 of 11 Old 08-29-2013, 09:54 AM
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PLUS ONE with djg !!! I personally have and use this plan with GREAT results!!! ....and I've built it on every possible size level from minimum ( 4' x4'x2' pink board ) to the MAXed out SUPER KILN !!! LOL BUT as all of us I'm still learning!!
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f26/s...arriage-51228/

WELCOME ABOARD!!!! bbuuut five 9' boards aren't going to add up to 300' of bookshelves unless there really skinny shelves LOL!!!

Have a Blessed and Prosperous day in Jesus's Awesome Love, Tim
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post #5 of 11 Old 08-29-2013, 11:58 AM
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I recently built a kiln from those plans & dried some maple. It worked surprisingly well, but now I gotta figure out how to relieve the stress without having to completely overhaul the kiln. Thinking of adding a steam generator, heater, and insulation. As of now the insulation is minimal & there's no supplemental heat. To get the box up to the 140-160* ultra humid atmosphere required for stress relief, it's gonna cost a few more dollars. But like Tim said, still learning.
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post #6 of 11 Old 08-29-2013, 04:13 PM
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Qbuilder, How green was the wood when it went in?? From my readings (and I could've misunderstood something) IF it enters a kiln at less than 20% MC I don't think it will stress any and it's done cycled down and relieved itself...THAT'S the advantages of ADing and solar kilning where the temps fluctuate up and down it relaxes the stresses in the wood PRIOR to entering a kiln . ALSO (and Daren may need to correct me) with this set-up AND the temp we do the main drying at we can't pull the moisture out fast enough to stress the lumber....UNLESS it is the cut of the log (a bowed log sawed into straight boards...It's going to MOVE!!). From my understanding, it's the speed the large kilns are trying to dry at that combined with higher heat and larger DH's causes their stresses. I've read a lot that Dr. Gene on Woodweb has written ( he has great knowledge of commercial large scale drying).
BUT I'm interested in learning more!!

Have a Blessed and Prosperous day in Jesus's Awesome Love, Tim
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Reveling God's awesome beauty while creating one of-a-kind flitches and heirlooms.

Last edited by Tennessee Tim; 08-29-2013 at 04:14 PM. Reason: wrong word
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post #7 of 11 Old 08-29-2013, 07:19 PM
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It went into the kiln green, as in off the mill & into the kiln. It's hard maple, cut in June, so it needed to begin drying immediately to retain color & prevent gray stain. The kiln never really got much over 100*, but the wood reached solid 8% within 6 weeks. Air drying a bit before kilning would have been nice, but wasn't an option in this situation.

I might add that the wood is intended for billiard cues, so stability is paramount. If it were for furniture and going to be left close to thickness, then I would have full confidence in the wood. However, turning the wood into tapered dowels with much at a diameter near 1/2", any stress in the wood will become apparent.
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post #8 of 11 Old 08-31-2013, 04:37 AM
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Skin moisture content isn't internal.
The only way to really know what the internal moisture content is (unless someone else can chime in) is to cut it open and immediately test it with a meter. IF you are at 13%, I would imagine the internal will be about 5-10% higher.
You need to get that skin MC down below 10%, via kiln, and then let it sit a few days and remeasure the skin (which will come up due to outside conditions).
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post #9 of 11 Old 09-08-2013, 12:39 AM Thread Starter
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Drying follow-up 7 days later

Thank everyone for their feedback and guidance. I built the kiln and dried these five slabs for 4 96 hours at about 95 degrees with a DH and several fans. Cut everything off for 12 hours then ran 12 hour cycles for 3 days, then ran a 48 hour cycle at 90 degrees.

When I began the surface MC was 14%. Internal kiln humidity was never below 42 percent. Slabs had been air dried for six months prior to beginning. The top two slabs in the stickering were the smallest. The bottom two were the thickest. The bottom two had some pronounced end checks. Today, I pulled the plugs on the drying when I noticed the top two had pronounced surface checking. It may be that the smaller pieces had then all along or the process I put it under tore up the smaller top pieces. MC on the top two is 5.6% according to my prong meter.

I will see if these dried cracks and splits seal as the wood regains equilibrium. Thing is, the equilibrium this month will not match indoor winter conditions. The top piece which today is rather checked out is not a piece I was counting on using, it is a practice piece. I think I may ultimately have to glue it closed, or wait and see how the planning leaves it.

Next question I will post will be about bark removal on dried cherry. There’s no real question right now other than feedback on where things are. Tonight, it appears DH drying even briefly has caused the slabs to become much worse than they were, with the only known option waiting 2 years for the slabs to air dry, which was not an option. :-) I will keep the questions coming, thank you all again.
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post #10 of 11 Old 09-08-2013, 01:26 AM
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Slow and steady.
It sounds like you are allowing the wood to expand and contract too much. That might be why you are seeing checking. Keep the temp steady and at about 85-90 degrees with dry heat (I use a small space heater). It could take a week from the start to end, depending on the thicknesses.
At the end, if you suspect bugs, get the temp above 130 deg., for 24 hours, and slowly over another day drop the temp back to room temp..
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post #11 of 11 Old 09-08-2013, 11:55 AM
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Not sure how thick your slabs are but I did have a couple of thoughts for you. If you're working with thick stock you really don't have much choice than to be patient. When I dry 8/4 stock it generally takes 8 weeks from green to dry in my home made kiln which is based on the plans linked to by a previous poster.

With 3" and 4" stock I air dry for a year before I would even put the wood in a kiln.

As Aarvark pointed out, a surface moisture reading will not be the same as an interior moisture reading. Below is a picture of some 4" thick Butternut (which dries faster than cherry) that had air dried for 2 years. It was mostly dry on the outside but as you can see, the interior is still wet. It measured 25% and the outside was 14%. One way to determine that interior moisture content is by using a pin meter. The pin goes into the wood to get you a more accurate reading inside the wood.

Good luck with your project.


Drying a few cherry slabs, indoors?-butternut-center.jpg
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