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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I own acreage that is covered mostly in hardwoods, primarily various type of Oak. But there are massive cedar trees, some I estimate to be about 30’ tall. I intend to build next fall, and would like to utilize these cedars, some would be kept whole for the most part, others I would like to have cut into planks, for table tops or interior accent.
my questions are, what is the best method of drying, do I kill the tree and leave standing (I’ve seen where you remove the bottom couple of feet of bark),
or cut down and dry, and do I dry before or after milling?
the other question is how to bring out the beautiful color of the trees left whole? I don’t want them turning grey.
also need info on a portable mill, how much am I looking at?
Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Thanks
Bert
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I know I was asking a lot, but more forced on how to dry timber, should I kill the tree while standing or go ahead and mill?
hopw everyone had a great weekend
 

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Most people I know cut them down green. Then hire someone with a portable sawmill to come and cut them up into boards. Then the boards are stacked, with sticks in between the layers, covered and allowed to dry for a year or more. Or you can kiln dry them.

I got some lumber from a person that had a small portable band saw. He said it was about 3,400 dollars. The largest diameter it could cut was 18 inches and 9 feet in length. Of course picking up and handling logs does require some heavy equipment.

There is a lot to it.

The lumber I purchase from him has to be planed and worked. I'm guessing 20 percent waste??, wood stove fuel. Sorry I'm not much help.
Roy
 

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I am no expert, but I can share what I have learned.

The rule of thumb for air drying wood is 1 year per inch of thickness. Unless you cut the boards very thin (1 inch or less) and do a good job of air drying them, your boards will not be ready by "next Fall" (2022). If the trees are infested with pests, such as wood borer beetles or termites, air drying will not kill them, and they could infest other wood in your shop.

An alternative to air drying is kiln drying. Kiln drying is much faster than air drying, but it is not quick either. There are many ways to kiln dry lumber, but you can't dry it too fast. If the outer layers of the wood dry too fast compared with the interior, cracking and "checking" can occur.

The kiln drying process can use heat or not. Heating to certain temperatures will kill pests. Of course, heat kiln drying also uses energy and costs money.

Some people use services for kiln drying. A few people build their own kilns. You can find information about DYI on the internet. Read and watch carefully - not everyone on the internet is a qualified expert.

If I were you, I would call around to look for local sawmill and kiln services to get pricing and advice. Unless you do some careful planning very soon, your lumber won't be ready for "next Fall."
 

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The consensus on milling logs is - the greener the better, dry wood is harder on blades so you don't want to kill them standing. As far as the milling goes you have the option of paying someone to do it or purchasing a mill and doing it yourself. I wouldn't purchase a mill unless you intend to use it for more than this one project for many years to come, but that's just me. Then the wood will have to be dried, which presents another set of options with varying levels of diy vs paying somebody (air dry, homemade kiln, professional kiln etc.). It all depends on your time frame and budget, ie the more diy the cheaper it is but takes longer.

Purchasing a mill you see prices ranging from a few thousand for small ones like you might find at harbor freight all the way up to pushing 100k.

Saving the color on cedars is a different story, to keep it from turning grey you want to keep it out of the sun, but I think its impossible to save the reddish purple as it will eventually turn brown no matter what.

My experience has been that it's fun running a mill and cutting the lumber, but to me the hardest part is drying the lumber. If you really want to do that part yourself you need to get the lumber indoors, you need power (solar will work if it comes to it), and ideally you need some equipment that can operate as a forklift.

edit: Ah, I didn't see that you said "next fall". In that case I think Tool Agnostic is right, it would take a lot of careful planning for you to be ready by next fall doing everything yourself.
Buy the mill, figure out how to run it, plan out all the cuts you need, cut them, build a kiln, figure out how it works, dry the wood. There's a learning curve for both milling and drying so you don't want to start with your good stuff you want to experiment with non-essentials, I've been experimenting for about two or three years and still haven't been able to be consistent.
 
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