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My neighbor is giving me a Red Oak in his front yard that had to come down (partially blown down in the last storm). I've never saw'd hardwood so I'm asking if there are any particulars to watch for. The City has already topped it into several 5-6 ft pieces, the main trunk is about 6 feet tall and then splits into 2 trunks about 16 ft long. I suppose a variety of sizes would might come in handy. 2x, 1x, 4x...any thoughts?
 

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I left some pine inside my shop in log form up on 2 x 4's and sawyer beetles attacked them and made swiss cheese out of them (pencil sized holes in places). I never thought that was going to happen. Your issue where you are might be rot with the bark on as the bark helps keep moisture in. I like my logs sawed into timbers with one dimension no more than 6 inches as a 10" table saw has a 3" reach. That way I can make whatever I need out of it but I have a 3hp TS and a 2hp 16" planer to help with the breakdown later. You'll still get some 1" and 2" getting the log squared up. The big issue with getting timbers sawed is drying time. The accepted generalization is 1 yr per inch of thickness.

If you do decide to cut into more or less finished boards then I say get boards sawed to 5/4 and 9/4 instead of 4 and 8. I've found that boards which are 7/8" to 1" thick have a different look that standard 3/4". Plus if you want to resaw thinner you'll need the extra 1/4".
 

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I would give your neighbor his oak tree back. Unless you know what your doing on how to saw it up and how to dry it you will have a lot of scrap. Do some research online on how to dry wood. There is a lot of information out there to read and there is a good reason for it. Now if you know what your doing that is a different story. Good luck.
 

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I had some birch logs quartered thinking that would give me the best return and highest quality boards. They bowed and twisted the most. In birch the best was sawed into 1 and 2 inch and dry piled. The best boards wound up on the bottom of the stack. No surprise there. If you can keep the boards flat while they are drying they will take that set. However, resawing may release some tension but it's a chance you have to take. Lots of woodworking uses 2, 3, and 4 foot pieces so lots of defect can be cut out and like someone told me once about logs, they straighten out the shorter you cut them. Trees that are larger and particularly pine and fir here tend to do well as timbers but they are straighter logs to begin with. The birch might have done better if I hadn't had them quarter sawn so that there was opposing grain on the other side of the board from the heartwood.

When you dry pile place a sticker no more than 12" from the ends, I prefer 6", and every 2' the rest of the way. Better if all the stickers are the same thickness. I took some of the 2" in the birch and cut them into 4' pieces and used them for stickers. It doesn't hurt to have that much space between layers for better air circulation. Also leave gaps between the layered boards so that you can get vertical circulation too. Keep them out of sunlight but preferably don't tarp them except maybe in winter time. I'm not sure that is a good idea in Florida because you don't get that cold and you have high humidity. If too much humidity gets trapped in the pile you'll get mold, mildew, and eventually rot. Paint the ends of the boards with something to slow drying or you'll get longer splits in the ends. Paraffin works great. Melt it and brush it on but even leftover latex house paint will help. Old timers told me that best results stacking is to restack every 2 months (putting top on bottom) so that all the boards have lots of weight on over time but I never did it. No time and too much work and it takes lots more room.

You are getting into the absolute worst time of year to be cutting trees down. The sap is starting to come up and the wood is taking on water every day until sometime in June or July when it will start drying again. January is about the best month to cut. What I know is based on 30 plus years experience and what I learned from old timers. Daikusan/Steve did some actual research on the subject and found some good material from the US Forest Service on drying techniques. Kiln drying is pretty much totally different from air drying so articles on that won't help you much. Hope all this helps.
 

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A buddy had an oak tree in his yard cut down and then had it cut into planks. Spent a whole day helping him rip a straight edge on the planks and then stack and sticker them inside his building. He monitors the humidity inside the building and tells me that it went down steadily for about a year but now, about 18 months later, seems to have stabilized. He's thinking that he might be able to start cutting it up by this time next year.

Photos are before and after on that day, he painted the ends, weighted the stacks down and covered them the next day.
 

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I'm with Mike (Stringer)...

I'll dry before the wood does... :)
 
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As much as I like oak I would give it back to him. You are doing him a far greater favor taking it than he is giving it to you. By the time you eventually get it to the point of being usable you will have more time frustration and money in it than you can buy the usable lumber for. VOE
 

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Everything that has been said is exactly the reason I don't mess with fresh cut wood. At this stage in my life, I don't have the time to wait for the wood to dry."

--MT Stringer

Heck, I am at "that stage of life" where I don't buy green bananas!....



 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks guys, without a doubt there is quite a bit of expense involved, but I'm doing this as a hobby. I really enjoy getting out and working with the wood. Great exercise! I loaded three Red Oak logs Saturday, the biggest was 22" in diameter. No small feat when your working by yourself! So far I haven't had any trouble drying the Pine or Cedar, knock on wood!

I was pretty surprised at the weight difference between the Pine vs Oak. When I hooked the winch to the smallest of the logs, it pulled tight and stalled! I had to put blocks beside it & lift it with a long 2x4 (that I had sawn previously, really 2.75"x4.5"). It would pull about an inch with every lift. The best I could get with the 22" log was to get it on the trailer enough to pull it out (broke my cable the first attempt), then aimed it at the stump & backed into it, pushing it into the trailer! I haven't had to do that with any of the Pine. Going to be fun turning that one on the saw mill! I did take the winch back to HF & upgraded from the 2500# model to the 5,000# one. I'm hoping that will be enough. It's another $120.00 to go up to 9,000#'s.

One more question. Does the size of the boards affect the warping? I like cutting wide boards but don't know if there is a market for them. I suspect the wider boards will be prone to warping easier. Thinking I should stay under 8-10 inches, maybe even 6".

I have a stairwell done in Red Oak. I want to cut a board to run up each side between the wall and the steps. I'll measure that tonight to see how wide that has to be. It might have to be 12" or so, I'll see. Do most people use 1" wide for this or can I go 1.5. I'll have to router the top edge to match the pattern on the baseboards. What do you guys recommend?

I'm starting to consider a planer now. I'm liking the price on the Steelex 15" model @ $1300.00. Looks exactly like the Wen unit. So far I've been sawing all my Pine into 1x14's. There is not that much to take off, the band saw cuts a pretty smooth surface. 14" is going to require a real planer. Anybody ever looks into them? My goal is to use them for the 2nd floor in my shop as well as the interior walls. Thinking I'll tongue & groove them. Put them vertically on the walls & length wise on the floor. Considering the V cut T&G on the walls.

As always guys, thanks for all of your help. I've learned so much here. Need to start putting it to use!
 

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They will try to cup when drying going cross grain unless you weight them down with a fair amount of weight. The reason for that is because each layer of grain is a different length so when they dry they shrink different lengths. You don't want to install a board that is still green or you'll probably have problems holding it straight. If the back sides of the boards won't show then I would cut kerfs in them with a TS, about one every 1 to 1 1/4" apart and about 1/3 of the thickness. If they will show then attach them as solidly as possible and hope for the best.

I have a 16" King Canada planer which is very similar and may have been built in the same factory. It's the same as a Delta and several others I've seen. Mine is a real workhorse and it's planed 1000s of board feet of rough lumber besides doing final planing when I use the wood to build something. I do have trouble with tear out on dry birch and occasionally on red oak but it does a beautiful job on softwoods. A spiral head would probably help but they weren't available when I bought it and it's a pricey upgrade. Heres what the King looks like: Power Tools, Woodworking and Metalworking Machines by King Canada Seems to me mine is only 2 hp maybe but it will still plane up to 1/8" per pass, especially in softwoods. If you plan on using a lot of rough lumber then a planer is pretty much a must have.
 

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Great discussion. I'm with Mike, I can't be waiting 2-4 years. But if you're younger, it could be very satisfying.
 

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When I stickers my cherry wood I built 2X6 frames to go on the bottom and top using 5 come-along straps. As the wood dried you could tighten a notch a couple times a month. The straps work better than weights - but a must to stop the cupping/twisting. See my avatar, that is one of the 4 stacks of cherry.

You are in Florida, is the water oak good to make lumber out of?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hey Steve, that's a great idea about using the straps. HF has 2 4-pack on sale for $6.99, I'll go pick some up and clamp em down! I have to water oak logs to saw but haven't done them yet. I read that the are very good as lumber/flooring.
 

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Hey Steve, that's a great idea about using the straps. HF has 2 4-pack on sale for $6.99, I'll go pick some up and clamp em down! I have to water oak logs to saw but haven't done them yet. I read that the are very good as lumber/flooring.
Make sure they arnt the 100 lb ones.

I have the 300 lb and some 400 lb. I saw a pack of 4 300 lb at woodcraft for $19. Thats about the price I paid in Japan. $7 is a great buy.
 
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