Drying small logs and branches - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 Old 02-05-2014, 09:50 PM Thread Starter
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Drying small logs and branches

I am just thinking about starting to work with slabs and logs for furniture as a hobby. I have found lots of information on slab drying but none on log and branch drying.

How do you recommend drying small logs and branches to use in mortise and tenon furniture? They would obviously be stacked and de barked but are there considerations to stop checking and things during the drying process?
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post #2 of 15 Old 02-05-2014, 10:17 PM
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I hang out with a rustic furniture shop guys who use diamond willow.
Beds, tables, sets of 8 chairs, coffee tables, canes, hiking sticks, you name it.
Each spring harvest, they cut as 8' lengths, maybe 5-6 cords of wood.
Strip the bark and into the bins. Rule of thumb is 1" drying (outdoors, under cover, shady)
per year.
So, the 2013 spring havest, 3" and smaller, went into the 2015 bin. 4" and bigger went into the 2017 bin.
They don't seal the ends, they don't care, they expect 3-6" cracking.

The key point seems to be the spring weather = long, cold, rainy and the results are fantastic.
Hot & dry spring and they might lose it _all_. Has happened. Total splits.
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post #3 of 15 Old 02-06-2014, 12:24 AM
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Ok well that's a waste of wood.. No matter the species your suppose to seal the ends or essentially any end grain, I have dried many diamond willow sticks
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post #4 of 15 Old 02-06-2014, 10:55 AM
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A waste perhaps if the resource is limited. Certainly not the case here.
Seal the ends if you find that useful, there's no other reason, not a "requirement".
In fact, I scavenge the off cuts for many useful pieces, such as tool handles, up to
and including the 18" dog-leg handle on my planer knife.

If & when they burn off the scrap in the wood stove, I can get pure willow charcoal
to make a simple black paint as has been done in Pacific Northwest for perhaps thousands of years.

It is also a fact that not all furniture parts are the same length.
After 10-15 years, 50+ cords of willow, they have a very good idea of what works and what doesn't.
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post #5 of 15 Old 02-10-2014, 07:20 PM
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What species are you planning to build with ?

I am familiar with hickory but won't divulge everything I know.

If you are doing "bark on" furniture you can only harvest during months with an "R", September thru April with September, March and April being touchy depending on how the weather is. Some species such as hickory are susceptible to bugs. In the case of hickory it is the hickory borer and these rascals bore 1/4" wide D-shaped holes and make valuable wood into worthless wood very quickly. For this reason, the wood must be sterilized in a kiln before storage any length of time . . . and NO, black plastic on a warm or hot day is not adequate to create the required heat.

At the company I was working for, I set them up for production and we bought hickory poles by the semi loads and had to store everything to get through the spring and summer. When I left that company we had six or seven semi loads in storage. I purchased a used 48' semi trailer and built a sterilizing kiln. We added insulation to the trailer and would put 6-8 pallets of hickory poles down the middle per load. I had a 100,000 btu tube heater installed along the ceiling, a Nyle dry kiln unit for more heat and to remove the humidity and several kiln fans to create a circular air flow. You can do this same thing on a small scale such as with that kiln plan on this website.

Poles can be kiln dried just like lumber and I would much sooner kiln them and kill any bugs at the same time than I would waste lots of space on storing poles for years. We used poles from 1" dia up to 5-6" dia.

Last edited by TheWoodsman; 02-10-2014 at 07:23 PM.
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post #6 of 15 Old 02-10-2014, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
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Im going to be making small scale stuff as a hobby so I wont be making a kiln. Il be using mostly oak, maple and cedar I believe. Il be taking wood as I find it though so no real way to tell you specific types of wood.
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post #7 of 15 Old 02-10-2014, 09:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bloggins View Post
I am just thinking about starting to work with slabs and logs for furniture as a hobby. I have found lots of information on slab drying but none on log and branch drying.

How do you recommend drying small logs and branches to use in mortise and tenon furniture? They would obviously be stacked and de barked but are there considerations to stop checking and things during the drying process?
Leave the branches uncut , as full a length as possible .
Wax the clean cut end grain with anchor seal , log shield or the like, including where smaller branches have been trimmed off .
Leave the bark on
Lay off the ground in a cool dry shady place until seasoned , or needed .
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post #8 of 15 Old 02-10-2014, 10:51 PM
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MJ: the problems that the Americans face is/are bugs. All kinds of wood boring and wood/bark eating bugs. I have charts on my wall of the patterns of galleries that different species make!

I think it takes some talent for the Yanks to get some air-dried wood cured properly with all the bugs wanting to eat the feast.
Leaving the bark on just adds to their misery = that is the best, most nutritious wood layer there is.

Example: somebody decided that it would be cool to have the Chinese build artificial Christmas trees for the American trade. That's OK, the artificial tree things had real tree wood trunks/stems. Turned out that the trunk/stem things were infested with some sort of tree-killing bug that has now spread all over the North-eastern region of the US.
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post #9 of 15 Old 02-10-2014, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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Im Canadian and we have enough native critters to worry about on top of the crazy foreign stuff!! Im thankfully in a area without any foreign bugs (yet).
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post #10 of 15 Old 02-10-2014, 11:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robson Valley View Post
MJ: the problems that the Americans face is/are bugs. All kinds of wood boring and wood/bark eating bugs. I have charts on my wall of the patterns of galleries that different species make!

I think it takes some talent for the Yanks to get some air-dried wood cured properly with all the bugs wanting to eat the feast.
Leaving the bark on just adds to their misery = that is the best, most nutritious wood layer there is.

Example: somebody decided that it would be cool to have the Chinese build artificial Christmas trees for the American trade. That's OK, the artificial tree things had real tree wood trunks/stems. Turned out that the trunk/stem things were infested with some sort of tree-killing bug that has now spread all over the North-eastern region of the US.
Bugga
We have the odd ones that munch on sapwood ,
I've not had any get as far as the heartwood by the time I got to it
a few years later .

Oh well , off with it's bark
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post #11 of 15 Old 02-11-2014, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bloggins View Post
Im going to be making small scale stuff as a hobby so I wont be making a kiln. Il be using mostly oak, maple and cedar I believe. Il be taking wood as I find it though so no real way to tell you specific types of wood.
At a very minimum, I would still recommend making a hot box to ensure the death of anything in the wood or under the bark.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manuka Jock View Post
Bugga
We have the odd ones that munch on sapwood ,
I've not had any get as far as the heartwood by the time I got to it
a few years later .

Oh well , off with it's bark
To give you an idea of how voracious those hickory borers are, the owner of the company was slacking on giving me the OK to move ahead with the heat treating kiln so we had some of our first hickory poles around for a couple months before it was operational. We had rented space in a warehouse and had maybe twenty pallets down there. We knew there was some activity because you could see dust piles forming under the pallets. One day a couple of us walked in to check on the wood and it was totally quiet in the warehouse . . . except you could hear the borers going at it from over a hundred feet away.

Luckily, we had just gotten the kiln going and started cycling the wood through immediately. We kind of shook the skids before moving them and we were left with so much dust or fras that we had to use scoop shovels before using brooms to clean up the floor. After we got it all heat treated and got into using it, we had to toss a lot because many pieces were totally girdled under the bark and some were so bad (well into the heartwood) you could pick up a 4" dia pole and break or crumble it in your hands.
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post #12 of 15 Old 02-11-2014, 02:21 PM
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Energetic little beasties ain't they . Glad we don't have them here .
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post #13 of 15 Old 02-12-2014, 07:20 AM
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Note:
You can make a kiln for small stuff for under $20.00.
I always suggest kilning wood for bug kill. What if you made a project for someone, it had bugs and the bugs got loose and into their house?

Buy a small under desk space heater a plastic tarp and a thermometer. That's under $20.00
You also should have a Moisture Meter. Lowes and Harbor Freight have them for under $40.00.
These are essentials.

For kilning....
Drape the tarp over your wood stock, pup tent style, cut a ventlation slit in the top, seal off the ends and sides and space heat away down the end of the tent. I start when the wood is under 20% moisture content, and start with a temp of ~85-90 deg, and at the end kick the heat up to 130-150 degrees for a solid 24 hours (130 kills all bugs). I routinely get my wood down below what the moisture meter detects (6%).

Moving the space heater around to differing locations on a daily basis ensures even wood drying.

Kiln away!

Last edited by Da Aardvark; 02-12-2014 at 07:38 AM.
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post #14 of 15 Old 02-12-2014, 09:17 AM Thread Starter
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I know I am supposed to dry logs to less than `12 percent mc but what if Im drying the logs in a shed with no temperature and moisture control. The regular ambient humidity is always high 20s unless we are in drought. How will I dry the logs and poles enough to work with them, bringing them inside is not a option.
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post #15 of 15 Old 02-12-2014, 09:55 AM
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Read the posting above yours^^^
Space heaters are dry heat.
Technically in even rustic or live edge furniture you should be below 10%, fine furniture down to 6%

Last edited by Da Aardvark; 02-12-2014 at 01:14 PM.
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