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Thread: Sawmill Pine

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Sawmill Pine

    I acquired some 4x6 and 6x6 pine from a local guy with a sawmill thinking I could use it in place of similar sized pt wood from HD. It has been out side and covered up I know for 2 years. So I got home and milled one side and it is still to wet to work with. Guess I learned my lesson. Any way, reckon if I just set it out the way in the dry for a year or so it will ever be usable or is there another way to dry it with out breaking the bank?

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    ken

  2. #2
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    Feb 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Higginbotham View Post
    I acquired some 4x6 and 6x6 pine from a local guy with a sawmill thinking I could use it in place of similar sized pt wood from HD. It has been out side and covered up I know for 2 years. So I got home and milled one side and it is still to wet to work with. Guess I learned my lesson. Any way, reckon if I just set it out the way in the dry for a year or so it will ever be usable or is there another way to dry it with out breaking the bank?
    Did the sawmill have it stickered so air could get to it for 3 years? Virginia pine, white pine? I don't have much experience with pine but it seems to me that the white pine dried quicker than the scrub pine.
    I'm curious what you will use this for, how dry does it need to be?

    The "rule-of-thumb" I've always heard is air dry 1 year per inch plus 1 year, so 2 years for a 4/4 board, 3 years for a 8/4 board. However, this depends on a lot of factors and is only useful as a rough guideline, if even that. And I think it falls apart for wood over 2" thick. If the wood is square instead of a board you do get a little more surface area for drying but the inside of something thick can take a long time.

    I cut and dry some lumber and a lot of woodturning blanks with my sawmill and with my shop bandsaw. I use a pinless moisture meter to check but it checks to about 1" deep. A 2x2 is usually OK in a year or so (less for some species, more for others). I dry a 4x4 for maybe 5-6 years, sometimes more. Most of the Dogwood I'm using now (up to 4" thick) has been drying for 10 years now, but it is a lot harder and denser than pine. Eastern Red Cedar is dry enough to use much quicker.

    Some people build a kiln of sorts from an old chest freezer or fridge to accelerate drying.
    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...-Kpuvw&cad=rja

    Or if you can find someone with a real kiln they might be willing to put a small quantity like that in with another load of pine.

    One easy thing you can do to monitor the air drying process is carefully weigh and record the weight of each piece. Plot the weights every week or so and when the weight quits changing the wood is probably about as dry as it's going to get. You can also use the traditional method to measure the actual moisture content. Cut a small sample (you are supposed to cut it from the center of a board which is sometimes a problem), carefully weigh, heat in an oven long enough to completely dry it, then calculate the moisture from the oven-dry weight.

    JKJ

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the input John. All I know is that its pine and I live in Ga.

    Sounds like I'll be waiting a long time. I was planning on using it to build furniture. The fridge deal looks cool, just don't have a spare laying around. Guess I could get one at the dump. But... the guy I got it from does know a fella that will dry wood for a fee. I'll go by and get his number and see what he charges. Good idea, thanks John...
    ken

  4. #4
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    The thicker you leave it, the longer it will take to dry. Perhaps you can resaw it to thinner boards if you don't need full thickness.

    Oh… and 1" thick pine dries pretty fast. You'll be able to use it by mid summer if you keep air going around it.

  5. #5
    The year per inch rule is really only viable for very thick material. Most 4/4 material if stored stickered and covered will lose all the moisture is going to practically lose in 6 months or less. The problem with pine is setting the pitch. When your dealing with air dried pine, no matter how long you air/solar dry it, your never going to set the pitch. Setting the pitch requires taking the material to 165 degrees I believe. If you dont set the pitch, the material is forever going to ooze and be sticky wth pine tar. Hitting that high temp locks the pitch (sets) into that hard/non oozy sticky material you see on some boards in the lumberyard.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Bolton View Post
    The year per inch rule is really only viable for very thick material. Most 4/4 material if stored stickered and covered will lose all the moisture is going to practically lose in 6 months or less. ...
    Yes, this is certainly true for some species, for example walnut, cherry, soft maples, cedar. In my experience local black locust, white oak, dogwood, and persimmon is usually still pretty wet after stickered a 9 months or a year. (As checked with a Wagner pinless meter) OTOH, I've dried 4/4 cedar in an extremely short time without a kiln. I guess that's why they call it a rule-of-thumb instead of a rule than a rule. I have no idea about pine, especially 4x6 pine.

    Unless I'm using rough lumber for farm construction I generally let it all dry for 2-3 years just because, then check it with the meter. After 3 years even 8/4 is usually down to 15% here in TN.

    Experience may vary in other climates. That's why I think weighing and/or using a meter is a good idea.

    Your point about the pitch is a good one. I always forget about that since any pine I saw goes into things like horse stalls and barn shelving. Truth be told, I HATE to saw pine, especially the Virginia pine common around here. I seem to spend half my time cleaning gunk off the blade.

    JKJ

  7. #7
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    Not every piece of pine has to have its pitch set. Those with pitch pockets - sure. Those with heavy pitch - sure. Those that won't be subjected to temps higher than they experienced while are drying - nope. Those with little to pitch - nope.

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