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Thread: Transporting air dried claro walnut - in the desert mid-summer

  1. #1

    Transporting air dried claro walnut - in the desert mid-summer

    Hello all,

    My family is the fortunate owner of some incredibly beautiful Claro walnut lumber from the family home in Northern California. The tree was felled and the lumber milled in September 2023 and has been stacked and stickered there in Sonoma County ever since.

    I'm the family woodworker, and I'm in Phoenix, AZ. My brother lives in Flagstaff, AZ. My parents are planning to drive to AZ in September 2024 and have offered to put the lumber on an open trailer and haul it down to us, where it should air dry considerably faster than in California. We would probably put most of it in Flagstaff; maybe a slab or two in Phoenix.

    I'm wondering if I should be concerned though. I've seen some kiln dried white oak get some surface checking when sitting out for an hour in summer sun in Phoenix. Should I be concerned that, exposed on a trailer for 12-18 hours, driven on the interstate, and eventually into late-summer Arizona, this lumber is going to dry so dramatically quickly it suddenly checks horribly?

    Any thoughts on this idea? Getting it to Arizona is worth it, I think; these slabs are 2-3" thick, and could take several years to dry in CA, but perhaps faster if carefully arranged in a shady/indoor place in Arizona.

    Pictures of some slabs, attached.

    PXL_20230923_205159740.jpgPXL_20230923_205301843.jpgPXL_20230923_210433134.jpgPXL_20230923_210437607.jpg

  2. #2
    You can cover them with a mesh tarp that blocks most of the uv but also lets them breathe.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    9,792
    Let it sit in CA for another year or two. If you just have to transport it this year, I would dense stack it, wrap it in Tyvek, cover it with a layer of plywood, and band it all down tight. When it gets to AZ I would sticker it in the (dense) shade and loosely cover it with landscape fabric to slow down drying as much as possible.

    A better approach would be to find someone to KD it in CA, and then bring it to AZ.

    John

  4. #4
    Good thoughts. We've already invested lots of money in milling it, and we're not willing to pay to have it kiln dried (estimates from the sawyer are more than $300 per slab in a vacuum kiln taking 90-120 days; he says he also has a solar kiln which would be cheaper but take up to a year).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    3,790
    I would not have it kiln dried .
    Air dried walnut is a joy to work with Handtools + kiln dried might loose some of the colors.
    Walnut is a very stable wood second only to Genuine mahogany. It will need time I would give years as many as possible the more the better.
    I havenít had any claro in my shop for a while now. When I did it was the best wood a guy could hope for.
    Truth be told Iím fairly allergic to walnut now and too poor to afford it.
    Good Luck
    Aj

  6. #6
    Iíve worked with old timers who always worked with air dried walnut. I havenít forgotten that, because they were always talking about it.
    They never left out the, ď Kiln dried doesnít have the good red color of air dried walnut.

  7. #7
    Seal the ends (twice) and keep out of direct sun. It will be okay. I work in southern New Mexico and deal with lots of very expensive lumber.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    9,792
    Quote Originally Posted by Mel Fulks View Post
    Iíve worked with old timers who always worked with air dried walnut. I havenít forgotten that, because they were always talking about it.
    They never left out the, ď Kiln dried doesnít have the good red color of air dried walnut.
    What they didn't tell you is that color goes away over time from oxidation. It doesn't matter if it was air dried or kiln dried w/o steam. Kiln drying with steam is a different story, it turns the heartwood a sort of muddy color, so I'd agree with them if that was their comparison.

    John

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    1,247
    I air dried 12/4 in PA and it was down to 10% within 2.5 years. Possibly 2 years. After the first 6 months of drying lumber, you kinda forget about it and stop tracking its moisture content. That is to say, your climate should absolutely dry those slabs in under two years. Im also guessing they are atleast 20%+ mc right now and i would definitely not want that wet wood getting baked by the sun whilst simultaneously experiencing 80mph winds. I am with the other guy, i would tarp it or have a plywood cover to block the sun.

    Looks like interesting material, good luck on the transport!

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