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Thread: Good deal on logs....would you?

  1. #1

    Good deal on logs....would you?

    So I got a pretty good offer on a literally bottomless pile of logs that a large tree company has on their lot. I can "tag" what I want and they'll set it aside, for a very low cost (in advance of "where?", the locals are already all over this and this is a limited time offer....). So I tagged some red and white oak, hard maple, and cherry, and am sitting on the fence on some walnut. Sawmill guy will bring his saw onsite and is very reasonably priced. Logs are 18-40 inches, 8-14 feet long. This seems like a no brainer but...

    As I am an amateur woodworker, I know less about drying. I do know 1" per year, sticker it well, weight on top, and I can keep it in an open-sided wood shed, anchorseal the ends. Kiln drying is 100%, absolutely not going to happen, not an option due to cost, distance, don't have the space to build one, etc..

    What I'm struggling with, is this still worth it? I know air drying is hit or miss even if you're careful, but is there a species I should avoid, and double up on another? 2000 BF is about what I can fit in the shed, stickered, and I'd like to be using the shed for something useful and not have to toss half of it in the stove when it corkscrews as soon as I get it near the planer. My plan is to do most of this at 8/4, and a few hundred bf at 6/4. I hear oak is the worse at air drying, problem is, for every maple and cherry log in this pile, there's 10 oaks. The walnut isn't yet in play "yet", as I said, locals are all over this and the trucks with the walnut often "lose it" between where they cut it and the lot. Given what I spent at the lumber yard last year, if I can keep even 60% of this stuff after 2 years air drying, I'm ahead, but the math really doesn't work for me if air drying is going turn 50% of this stuff into noodles.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Cambridge Vermont
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    1,266
    Around here you can bring your lumber to a mill at they will kiln dry it for you. I have had a guy come up to my property with a band mill and cut up my wood about a half dozen times now. I'll do it again. Do you have a pickup and a trailer? Depending on how much wood you get the weight will add up. If the deal is good enough you probably could rent a U-haul if needed to get it home. I would store it outside to allow for better airflow. I made a simple roof to cover the top. What you will have to do is prevent power post beetles from getting into it. If I was offered logs at a good price I would jump on it.

  3. #3
    The truck is no problem, lot is 10 minutes away. I could get truck load home and be back while he's still sawing the second log. Nearest Kiln is 1.5 hours one-way and is not cheap. Just not an option. I was thinking spraying them with Timbor before stacking might mitigate the PBB problem, which is pretty bad where I live. If you put a piece of wood outside, just assume it's instantly full of PBB, because, in reality, it is.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    10,462
    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Colson View Post
    So I got a pretty good offer on a literally bottomless pile of logs that a large tree company has on their lot. I can "tag" what I want and they'll set it aside, for a very low cost (in advance of "where?", the locals are already all over this and this is a limited time offer....). So I tagged some red and white oak, hard maple, and cherry, and am sitting on the fence on some walnut. Sawmill guy will bring his saw onsite and is very reasonably priced. Logs are 18-40 inches, 8-14 feet long. This seems like a no brainer but...

    As I am an amateur woodworker, I know less about drying. I do know 1" per year, sticker it well, weight on top, and I can keep it in an open-sided wood shed, anchorseal the ends. Kiln drying is 100%, absolutely not going to happen, not an option due to cost, distance, don't have the space to build one, etc..

    What I'm struggling with, is this still worth it? I know air drying is hit or miss even if you're careful, but is there a species I should avoid, and double up on another? 2000 BF is about what I can fit in the shed, stickered, and I'd like to be using the shed for something useful and not have to toss half of it in the stove when it corkscrews as soon as I get it near the planer. My plan is to do most of this at 8/4, and a few hundred bf at 6/4. I hear oak is the worse at air drying, problem is, for every maple and cherry log in this pile, there's 10 oaks. The walnut isn't yet in play "yet", as I said, locals are all over this and the trucks with the walnut often "lose it" between where they cut it and the lot. Given what I spent at the lumber yard last year, if I can keep even 60% of this stuff after 2 years air drying, I'm ahead, but the math really doesn't work for me if air drying is going turn 50% of this stuff into noodles.
    One caution: many people get into the excitement of a supply of free wood and end up with much or most of it wasted, ending up that it would have been cheaper to buy the lumber. I think it is important to research this well before committing.

    There is a lot of info on the internet about successfully air drying for research. There are also useful government publications. If you have enough wood, it might be profitable to pay for kiln drying.

    Don't forget handling and hauling large amounts of wet wood, preventing insect damage, cost of the support system and stickers, sufficient space for having stacks of stickered lumber around for years, and storage space for the dried lumber.

    BTW, 1 year per inch is a very rough suggestion which makes a lot of assumption, not even close to reality in many cases. The typical rule-of-thumb is actually 1" per year PLUS one year. Even this falls apart in reality with certain species (white vs red oak vs cherry, walnut, etc), thicker timbers, untypical environmental conditions, poor handling.

    I have a sawmill myself but I usually cut wood into woodturning blanks. When I do cut boards for air drying i use methods to measure the moisture instead of relying on a rule-of-thumb.

    JKJ

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Modesto, CA, USA
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    Climate? extra words to make the count

  6. #6
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    Dec 2004
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
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    818
    Sounds good and others have raised some good issues to consider. Taking wood from tree to project is a great way to learn about the properties of different species. But 2000 bd ft is a lot of wood. A couple of lessons learned for me.

    Be careful making sticker thickness consistent and use similar wood to the lumber being stacked. Staining may occur with darker wood stickers on maple, for example. IMHO, using dry wood for the stickers will help eliminate staining.

    Second, if you can control the board dimensions, think about the capacity of your planer and jointer. You may also want to mill the wood prior to moving to workshop and an outdoor location such as a shed can help control the amount of waste handling.

    Good luck.
    Rustic? Well, no. That was not my intention!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Somewhere in the Land of Lincoln
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    1,474
    No idea where you are but maybe build a solar kiln? There is a lot of info over in the Saw Mills and Kiln Drying Forum. Maybe pose your question there. Some real experts in there that deal with logs and drying wood frequently.

    https://sawmillcreek.org/forumdispla...nd-Kiln-Drying

  8. #8
    Thomas
    I air dry all of those species very successfully down to 12 or 13% here in WNY with the same process you are looking at. Bring inside shop for another % or 3 and you are all set. No bug problems here. My only question would be quality of logs and possibly difficulty in sawing. I mill my own and any "urban" logs would be internal garbage metal suspect. Trees next to a road maty be loaded with sand. You might discuss this with the sawyer. Bandsaw blades are around $25. One nail and the blade is toast. I have found metal over a foot deep in woodland trees far from urban influence. I like your plan just talk to the guy sawing for you.
    Bob

  9. #9
    I have a sawmill and dry wood frequently.
    I sticker it outside for 1 year. Make sure the platform you put it on is coplaner and well supported. Walk on it and make sure it does not pitch down anywhere. Sticker the boards with dry stickers -- species does not matter. Place them every 15-20 inches and be sure where they transfer weight to the platform it is well supported at that point. Be sure the stickers are in a vertical line.
    After the year I bring them into the loft of my barn which gets very hot in summer. The boards will spend at least 1 year there. They are simply piled but not stickered.
    With this approach I have good success. Be aware however if the tree grew at an angle the wood is stressed and in drying will move sometimes more then you will like.
    Good luck

  10. #10
    If the person operating the saw knows what makes good and bad lumber for making furniture, and the logs are not full of knots and metal, might be okay. Urban and perhaps suburban logs may not be good choices.

    Try one or two logs. If the resulting boards meet your standards order more next time there are logs available,
    Last edited by Don Stephan; 01-15-2021 at 9:37 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    851
    Absolutely load up on walnut if itís cheap. itís the best/highest priced domestic hardwood in high demand. Worst case scenario, even trashy twisted walnut is still $2-3 bdft when dry. In comparison, twisty/warped flat sawn red oak is garbage. Fire wood. How much are the logs? If they are basically free then I would buy more and have the sawyer be more wasteful in his cuts. Quarter/rift saw all the white oak. Probably stock up on thicker cuts(these are more wasteful to produce) because they are harder to come by and much more expensive.

    I am not a person to ask for advice, but I believe the majority of movement occurs within the first 4-6 months of drying. Iím around month 3.5 with 3500bdft of walnut and I am very happy with how flat/straight itís dried thus far. I did spend a fair amount of time prepping the base of each stack to be straight and in the same plane. So far it seems to be paying off.

    If you are into it for a buck a board foot, then I say do it. Avoid the bugs and be patient. If itís going to cost you $2.50+ for anything less than quarter sawn white oak or walnut, then I would say itís maybe not worth it. I donít think itís worth waiting 1-2 years to have a usable product that only saves you 20% versus what you can buy off the shelf in the quantities you need today.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Modesto, CA, USA
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    A kiln is simple. a cargo container painted black with some venting.Leave it in the full sun for a few weeks when it predicted to be 110 degrees or more outside. Throw some blankets on it at sundown. It should be over 160 degrees inside for hours each day.
    Bill D

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Peoria, IL
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    2,178
    Pay particular attention to John K Jordan's advise. It's like he wrote my story. I cut free logs for a full year. Luckily for me I sold the mill for the same amount I paid for it. After air drying I stored the wood on my Mom's farm for my retirement. What I found when she died, was that I probably had a world record powder post beetle infestation. I had 26" wide 8/4 ash with not a foot of clear wood between beetle trails. It breaks your heart to throw that on a burn pile. So rule #1 if you do it. TREAT EVERY SINGLE BOARD WITH A BORATE PREVENTATIVE PESTICIDE!!!!!!!!!!! After I sold the mill I continued to harvest turning blanks and burls. I didn't learn my lesson after almost killing myself milling. It's a back breaker moving a wet 2x26x10' by yourself. I have a lean-to filled, garage attic filled, 1/2 my shop filled, all the gaps between my home floor joists filled, and even a pile in my house attic. My son likes to say if this house burns, they'll see it from space. Now that I am retired, and after 48 years of woodworking and 35 years of turning, surprise! I want to do some things other than woodworking. I want to be outside in the sun. I've taking up cycling and ride about 3,000 miles a year. All this wood is going to be a massive pain for our kids. I sold 8,000 pen blanks 2 years ago, and it was literally a drop in the bucket. So the fever is real, and PPB will destroy a pile of lumber. BEWARE!
    Last edited by Richard Coers; 01-15-2021 at 11:34 PM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Quote Originally Posted by Izzy Camire View Post
    ... Make sure the platform you put it on is coplaner and well supported. Walk on it and make sure it does not pitch down anywhere. Sticker the boards with dry stickers -- species does not matter. Place them every 15-20 inches and be sure where they transfer weight to the platform it is well supported at that point. Be sure the stickers are in a vertical line....
    If it's not planar you may end up with a stack of boards with dips or bends.

    I put down two rows of cinder blocks then put lengths of 3x3 or 4x4 on each row. I put 3x3 cross pieces every 20-24" depending on the length and thickness and type of wood. Center ed on the top of each 3x3 I put my first stickers. The first layer of boards then the next sticker lined up exactly with the first stickers and repeat. I like to put the boards close but not touching with a 3-4" gap near the center. Put stickers on the top, some scrap boards on those, weights on the very top, and cover from sun and rain with metal roofing, old plywood, etc.

    The stack is something like this, but with the cinder blocks to keep the long supports off the dirt.

    I like to use cedar for stickers since it dries quickly. I use 1x1 pieces trimmed when edging boards.

    air_drying_image.jpg

    BTW, I'm no professional, just a guy with a sawmill behind the barn.

    JKJ

  15. #15
    A dozen years ago, the old man had some nice white oaks and elms from his yard taken down, and he decided to have them milled up into boards. He paid someone with one of those portable mills to saw it up. He then stacked and stickered them and covered them up, and they sat for a few years, some in the basement, some outside.

    He only used a little of it, and I ultimately ended up with nearly all of it when they moved. Probably 90% was not suitable for anything but firewood. It was either too warped, too moldy, too rotten, or too full of bugs. Most of that I ended up burning in my maple sap evaporator. Of the rest, the wife was able to make some of the elm into painted yard snowmen (too much mildew for inside use), and I managed to salvage some of the quarter sawn oak. I used that for parts of a desk and file cabinet that I made him and his wife for their new place in the old folks home.

    I have decided that it is much cheaper and simpler to use lumber from the hardwood supplier that has been cut, milled, and dried by people who know what they are doing. Plus they have way more room to store it than I do

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