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Thread: Air dried Cherry, warp again after milling?

  1. #1
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    Air dried Cherry, warp again after milling?

    A friend has given about 50 pieces of 4'-6' long air dried Cherry wood, rough milled approx. 4/4. They were stickered for many years indoors, the bottom longer pieces (about 40% of the stack) are fairly flat and straight but the uppermost shorter pieces are pretty warped and bent. Some are so bad I don't think they are usable. I don't have an immediate project for them but, I was going to start milling them square and putting them flat in a stack indoors (no need for stickering) for future projects.
    I live in a very low humidity area.
    My question is, as they have been thoroughly air dried indoors, do you think they might warp again over time once milled? Or should I wait to mill them flat just before using? Randy

  2. #2
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    I wouldn't mill to final dimension, but I would still use stickers.

  3. #3
    I'm guessing they were cut short because of warp and twist, and probably have not gotten worse since then. But I would
    Not mill them until ready to make something. Then you don't have to worry about the wood darkening on ends and edges.

  4. #4
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    I also only start milling when I am moving ahead with the project.
    She said “How many woodworking tools do you need?”
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  5. #5
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    For me I like to edge boards to make stacking them easier. It just cuts down on the needed space considerably and space cones at a premium in my shop.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  6. #6
    This is an ideal time to get a moisture meter. Air dried wood can be great, but it will only reach a certain moisture level based on the space it is in. Even though it was indoors, the humidity could still have been very different from your location. Your best bet is to stack and sticker this lumber in your space and wait several months before using it. Even then, you will want to remove equal amounts of material from each face so that you don't create a moisture imbalance, which can cause warping and cupping.

    I recently worked with some hickory that was stored indoors in an unheated building. The moisture content was 10%. After a more than a month indoors in my house the moisture level was down to 8%
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  7. #7
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    I should have added that they were in a large non heated wood shop about a mile from where I live. They had been stickered for 12 years and not touched, that's why the indiv gave them to me, saw that he wasn't going to use them. No cold winters, but hot summers. I figure they have to be dry...……. Never thought about the darkening process that's natural to cherry. Randy

  8. #8
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    You are not going to know if they are going to move from tension until you start working with them, but given how long they have been stacked, any movement will not likely be due to moisture in a major way, IMHO. I've always loved working with air dried material including cherry and have rarely had an issue with movement outside of "certain pieces" that likely would have moved even if kiln dried. As has been noted, always use best practices when you break things down and start the milling process by not going all the way to finished unless you're going to use it immediately. Let it sit stacked and stickered for a few more days "prepped" for final milling and then have at it.

    It sounds like a very nice material score!
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    You are not going to know if they are going to move from tension until you start working with them, but given how long they have been stacked, any movement will not likely be due to moisture in a major way, IMHO. I've always loved working with air dried material including cherry and have rarely had an issue with movement outside of "certain pieces" that likely would have moved even if kiln dried. As has been noted, always use best practices when you break things down and start the milling process by not going all the way to finished unless you're going to use it immediately. Let it sit stacked and stickered for a few more days "prepped" for final milling and then have at it.

    It sounds like a very nice material score!
    Yes, it was! I'm thrilled to get it. Have only worked once with cherry before, really nice to machine. Randy

  10. #10
    It's possible that they were cut short because they came from above the bole, or from thick limbs. (hence it would be reaction wood.)
    I wonder if you can tell by skip-planeing a few and looking at the grain?
    Does anyone know?

    Also, since they all likely come from the same specific source, you might try fully working a few short cut-offs, and see how THOSE react. If they're stable....
    Last edited by Allan Speers; 05-19-2019 at 10:27 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allan Speers View Post
    It's possible that they were cut short because they came from above the bole, or from thick limbs. (hence it would be reaction wood.) I wonder if you can tell by skip-planeing a few and looking at the grain?
    Does anyone know?

    Also, since they all likely come from the same specific source, you might try fully working a few short cut-offs, and see how THOSE react. If they're stable....
    I took two shorter pieces out of the stack, jointed one edge and one face, then ran them through my planer. Took them down to 3/4", we'll see what happens. These were two of the worst pieces that i am experimenting on. I actually cut up about 5 pieces for firewood, they were too far gone to dimension back to usable boards. Randy

  12. #12
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    I personally wouldn't worry about the material being "shorts". That makes them a lot easier to work with and I invariably cut rough stock down to general length before I process it anyway. Outside of a few rare moments, it's unusual for me to have any project component longer than about 5' or so. The singular exception recently was the TwinXL over Queen Bunk Bed Commission relative to the side pieces, but even those were in the neighborhood of 7' rather than longer. I actually buy shorts on purpose when I make an occasional visit to Hearn Hardwoods...the price is slightly better and it allows me to get some really nice stuff is easy to work on more economical terms.
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