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Thread: Kiln Drying or air drying Cherry wood

  1. #1

    Kiln Drying or air drying Cherry wood

    Short story---My Father in Law and I bought 5 wood Ac 35 years ago. When we cleared the land we saved all the cherry trees. We have had them cut up
    over the years. He made a lot of stuff and I used a large amount to trim doors, base boards, etc of my home, I'm an architect. He has died and I'm moving
    to Fl. I have +/- 2,000 BF of ruff sawn clear cherry that I need to sell. It has been air dried in a three sided garage for 5 year plus, some might be 10 years
    old. I have been told that some of you like to do your own air-dry and plane some of you like to have it plane and kiln-dry. any advice would be helpful.
    Wes

  2. #2
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    Where are you located? If the cherry's been air dried for 5+ years, that is usually good enough for most people.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flamone LaChaud View Post
    Where are you located? If the cherry's been air dried for 5+ years, that is usually good enough for most people.
    I agree. A reason to Kiln would be to sterilize it. If there's no indication of bug infestation I don't know that Kiln drying would be necessary. But then I'm no expert at this stuff. I have been using air dried lumber for a number of years - oak & ash mostly - and so far so good.

  4. #4
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    I don't know where all the opinions on the necessity of kiln drying lumber come from but fine craftsmen were making exquisite furniture from air dried lumber for literally hundreds of years before kiln drying was developed. If the material isn't infested with powder post beetles, then it should be easy to sell as dried lumber. If I lived close, I would certainly come look at it.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Art Mann View Post
    I don't know where all the opinions on the necessity of kiln drying lumber come from but fine craftsmen were making exquisite furniture from air dried lumber for literally hundreds of years before kiln drying was developed. If the material isn't infested with powder post beetles, then it should be easy to sell as dried lumber. If I lived close, I would certainly come look at it.
    I wonder if the preference for kiln drying comes from commercial operators. Somebody running a high volume business isn't going to want to check each board for moisture and bugs. I've seen claims that KD boards dont move as much due to wood cell changes in the drying process. I'm pretty skeptical about that. I imagine retailers want a uniform product as well and I don't see a Borg checking each board that goes in their racks.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt Harms View Post
    I wonder if the preference for kiln drying comes from commercial operators. Somebody running a high volume business isn't going to want to check each board for moisture and bugs. I've seen claims that KD boards dont move as much due to wood cell changes in the drying process. I'm pretty skeptical about that. I imagine retailers want a uniform product as well and I don't see a Borg checking each board that goes in their racks.
    Didn't you hear?

    Kiln dried is no longer sufficient for the most skilled craftsman.

    What you need to accomplish your best work is 'Torrefied' wood!
    Dojo Kun, 1: Be humble and polite.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kory Cassel View Post
    Didn't you hear?

    Kiln dried is no longer sufficient for the most skilled craftsman.

    What you need to accomplish your best work is 'Torrefied' wood!
    Why does the wood have to be British? (ducks and runs from historians)

  8. #8
    I use air dried wood, but put it in my shop to dry for some time before using it. Checked some lumber last week to see if it was dry, sawn since last spring, and sawed off about 4", then tested it with my mini Ligno, said 11%. So it will be a while before that lumber is ready to turn into projects. Also tested some shop dried wood, said 6%. When I run into borer holes of any kind, that piece goes in the wood furnace. Any time I run into active PPB, I put those boards in a old steel grainery, as it gets hot enough in summer to kill bugs. 133 degrees no problem.

  9. #9
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    I live in the NE of the country. AD won't get below about 12 - 14%. Indoors in the Winter the EMC goes down to around 6%. In the Summer it goes up to 10% w/o air conditioning, but only around 8% with it. If you build with wood at 12 - 14% for an environment that averages half of that you are likely to run into major problems. There are two practical options. Either bring it indoors, as mentioned above, and let it reach equilibrium before using it, or have it kiln dried and then use it straight away or store it indoors. If you choose to bring it indoors and let it acclimate it could take several weeks for 4/4 stock and several months for 8/4 to get down to 6 - 8%.

    They used AD lumber hundreds of years ago 1) because that's what they had, and 2) they lived in buildings with no central heat. Most of us have seen furniture built a couple hundred years ago in a modern house. Many of those pieces have not faired so well; cracked panels, ruptured joints, etc. The ones that still look good were typically built by the best of the best furniture makers of the time, those who understood wood movement and how to accommodate it. But I've seen some pieces at the Winterthur and other collections of American masters that had cracked panels in them, too.

    If you don't have a copy of Bruce Hoadley's book "Understanding Wood", it's well worth the less than $30 price.

    John
    Last edited by John TenEyck; 12-11-2018 at 5:31 PM.

  10. #10
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    I started building furniture in about 1975. At that time and in that location, kiln dried hardwood was a rarity. You just bought directly from the sawmill. I built with air dried wood because that is all there was - unless I drove to a town some 40 miles away. I have lost track of most of the stuff but the things I built for myself are still intact some 40+ years later. I learned about wood swelling and contracting the hard way because my original efforts failed. As far as historical furniture goes, none of it was stored or used in a humidity or temperature controlled environment, some of it for centuries. If it were not possible to build furniture without kiln drying that could withstand those wild extremes, it would all have self destructed by now. I don't make it a habit of checking the moisture content of my furniture but the humidity in my house in the deep south stays between 55% and 65% year round. My shop varies only a little more than that. Air dried wood just isn't a problem.

    By the way, the last time I was in historic Williamsburg, VA, which was about 30 years ago, they were still making furniture from air dried lumber using 18th and 19th century tools and they were charging an enormous premium because of it. I'll bet most of that furniture is still in good shape.

  11. #11
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    You seem to have taken offense to what I wrote Art. That wasn't my intent, nor did I say you can't build with AD lumber. Your latest post is a perfect example of when using AD wood works just fine - when the RH stays relatively constant. Even then you said your early efforts failed until you learned how to deal with the expansion/contraction that would happen over time, most likely because AD wood in your locale has a higher MC than your shop or home. It would be the same situation for me, just at lower MC values.

    The only stuff you see in historic Williamsburg is the stuff that survived. But look closely and you will see many of them have cracked panels, etc. The furniture that was built with complete disregard for what happens to wood as it dries and seasonally did indeed self destruct. The guys making furniture there now know how to deal with those issues, so the furniture they make likely has few problems.

    John

  12. #12
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    I work with air dry all the time. I make my own boards when I can. I would put it in my shop heated to 60F for a year or so. I canít see you having trouble selling it to people with some drying space.
    No idea where you are.....
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  13. #13
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    Furniture built from air dried lumber has been subjected to extremes of temperature and humidity even before central heating. People mostly had some kind of heat, at least if they were well-to-do enough to have furniture, and fireplaces and wood stoves dry the air out in the winter just as well as anything modern. The main difference is that all parts of a house now are often heated fairly equally, while before the heat and the dryness were probably more localized near the fires, I would assume.
    Zach

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