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A little background first..I have a piece of property in Northern CA at about 2,100 feet in elevation. I've got thousands of trees including Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, Incense Cedar, Madrone, Manzanita, Black Oak and probably a few others I'm missing. I kinda think of the property as in the sweet spot for the variety of trees we have.

I'd like to cut slices off the Madrone rounds to make some trivets and charcuterie boards. Some trees have been down for years and others are freshly fallen. My question is how should I go about letting them air dry?

Would the best approach be to buck the logs and stack them to air dry or should I cut them down to rounds that would presumably dry faster but if they do will I see cracking? I know a lot of this is going to be trial and error, I'm just trying to get pointed into the right direction.
 

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I am a novice to this as well, but have cutting white oak and red cedar trees. I have removed limbs but left in log form, and painted all cut surfaces with a sealer and stacked on a rack made of less desirable trees, in a shady area. I plan to buy a portable mill later this year and see what happens.
I seem to remember hearing that they need to dry 1 year / inch of thickness, but may have misunderstood.
good luck
 

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You want to cut them first. The log will take 50 years to dry (well maybe 48).

They are difficult to deal with and usually develop large cracks as theydry and shrink. I don’t know of any sealer that will prevent that. Matt Cremona did a comparison of products.

For your intended use I would be making boards of the logs. Cookies aren’t going to be stable enough for what you’re doing. But - give ‘er a go!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You want to cut them first. The log will take 50 years to dry (well maybe 48).

They are difficult to deal with and usually develop large cracks as theydry and shrink. I don’t know of any sealer that will prevent that. Matt Cremona did a comparison of products.

For your intended use I would be making boards of the logs. Cookies aren’t going to be stable enough for what you’re doing. But - give ‘er a go!
I guess the reason I asked is I cut a 2" wide oak cookie and it cracked a week later. So I was thinking maybe I shouldn't cut them into cookies until the logs dry some more.

What are you thoughts on cutting 2-3" cookies of the Madrone and sealing the ends? I can always plane them down to size when they're dry.
 

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As I said, Cremona did a comparison. I think there’s a product specifically for cookies I don’t think perfumed much better. In the end they all cracked. I’ve seen people split the cookie in half then joint and glue back together.

The logs that have been down for a long time are where I would start.

I’m very envious if your property! N CA is such beautiful country.
 

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Seems you have a good supply to test a number of options, techniques. From my experience (south Louisiana, very different than your higher elevation) you want/prefer the cookies to dry slowly, so painting the end grain should help in that effort. Simply airing them without paint - some will check, some may not. An option: Clamp with band clamps around a few and see how that works out. For those that check, saw through the split, joint the surfaces and glue back together.

A different wood, ER cedar, these (below pics) are some of my cookies that didn't check.... about half my cedar cookies didn't check I didn't treat the surfaces with anything, just plain air dried. Other cookies did check. You may likely have similar results with any technique of air drying.

On this site, madrone blanks are likely not kiln dried. It is not recommended to kiln dry burl or root ball pieces. If you have burled pieces, you want to air dry only. If you have access to root ball pieces, since I suppose your trees uprooted when they fell, those are likely to have lots of nice figured wood. Scroll to bottom of page for pics of burl blanks.

Should you decide to have some logs milled, say, short boards for small projects, most mills require a log to be at least 4' long to safely saw the log, i.e., needs to be long enough for securing the log onto the mill's rack for sawing.

Sonny
ER Cedar cookies - I made small tables (tops) with these and others.
https://flic.kr/p/caw1ny https://flic.kr/p/caw1n9 https://flic.kr/p/dcXoug
Walnut root ball slabs, originally 4" thick, air dried for 4 yrs - only one nominal check in one slab. Used for legs/base of a trestle table.
https://flic.kr/p/ndguvr https://flic.kr/p/yjqqr3
 

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A little background first..I have a piece of property in Northern CA at about 2,100 feet in elevation. I've got thousands of trees including Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, Incense Cedar, Madrone, Manzanita, Black Oak and probably a few others I'm missing. I kinda think of the property as in the sweet spot for the variety of trees we have.

I'd like to cut slices off the Madrone rounds to make some trivets and charcuterie boards. Some trees have been down for years and others are freshly fallen. My question is how should I go about letting them air dry?

Would the best approach be to buck the logs and stack them to air dry or should I cut them down to rounds that would presumably dry faster but if they do will I see cracking? I know a lot of this is going to be trial and error, I'm just trying to get pointed into the right direction.
I always have several billets under the shed, as a rule, drying takes at least three years, the most important thing is that there is no direct exposure to sunlight.
For small logs we need a barrel with sand, in the bottom we do holes closed with a rough cloth - to breathe. Logs covered with sand give moisture slowly and evenly. So dry wood for musical instruments, I have never tried myself, but I have seen the result of such drying
 
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