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Author Topic: Drying House Logs  (Read 671 times)

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Offline shock

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Drying House Logs
« on: March 20, 2019, 10:04:15 PM »
Hey guys, I am new here but do have some saw mill experience on hardwoods from when I grew up in Kansas. I live in rural central Alaska now (going on three years) and will be beginning to gather logs to build my house. I am unsure yet of whether I want to do a stick built or log house. Either way, it will be milled white spruce. I will not be building for at least 2 years.

What is the best way to store logs? Peel and stack on stickers? Under a lean-to? Also, anyone that can point me to relevant threads would be awesome.

Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: Drying House Logs
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2019, 07:34:31 AM »
The Alaska Coop Extension Service has an excellent book on building a log home.

"Building a Log House in Alaska". There are many similar titles, so make sure it is a Coop Extension publication.  A public library will have a copy.  About 80 pages.  Very practical.
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

Offline shock

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Re: Drying House Logs
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2019, 11:30:00 PM »
I was told by a local that peeling and stacking under cover is the way to do it. He told me there is a preservative that I need to spray on them after peeling to keep them from graying and molding. He didnít remember what it was. Any ideas?

Offline Ianab

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Re: Drying House Logs
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2019, 11:46:31 PM »
I was told by a local that peeling and stacking under cover is the way to do it. He told me there is a preservative that I need to spray on them after peeling to keep them from graying and molding. He didnít remember what it was. Any ideas?
Probably a Borate solution like Timbor, or a home made version mixed up from plain Borax. It will wash off in the rain, but sprayed on wood that's kept under cover it discourages fungus and wood boring bugs. 
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Offline Stephen1

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Re: Drying House Logs
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2019, 09:35:48 PM »
I was told by a local that peeling and stacking under cover is the way to do it. He told me there is a preservative that I need to spray on them after peeling to keep them from graying and molding. He didnít remember what it was. Any ideas?
Probably a Borate solution like Timbor, or a home made version mixed up from plain Borax. It will wash off in the rain, but sprayed on wood that's kept under cover it discourages fungus and wood boring bugs.
I agree with Ianab, I'm not sure if it will help hold the colour. I sprayed all my logs and all through my build I used lots of borax and no insects, except in the sip roof panels    ( solved now) I also would not put any wood under plastic or anything that resembles plastic. Keep lots of air moving thru and over the logs is the best. Sunlight UV is the most damaging. Acording to the US Forest Service I read years ago, damage to wood starts within 24hrs and decreases coating adhesive as exposure continues. The sooner you coat those logs with what ever your going to finish your build the better, even if it is 1 coat then when your built you apply chinking and final coat.
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Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: Drying House Logs
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2019, 06:40:47 AM »
Most of the grey discoloration, maybe all, is because of fungi.  There is a lot of sugar (fungi food) right under the bark.  To control the fungi, you need to eliminate one of the four essential elements that fungi need for growth- -warm temperatures of 50 F to 120 F, moisture of 25% MC or higher, air (oxygen), and food.  When you cannot eliminate one of these, then the option is to poison the food.  However, any poisons for house logs is not suggested due to,human hazards.  Once the cabin is built, treating the outside with poison is ok, but not the inside.  Not all wood treating chemicals kill fungi.  One reason is that the wood for mild and mildew fungi is dirt and microorganisms in the air and not wood or wood sugars.  (Ever seen mold growing on a plastic shower curtain, a concrete sidewalk, or a glass bottle?  The food supply is brought in.). So, the bottom line is that the most effective way to preserve color is to,eliminate moisture as quickly as possible without developing too many surface cracks.  This means peeling the bark off as bark is a moisture barrier, stacking with lots of air space so the air can move past the logs, and avoiding rain on the wood.

Borates are quire easily leached out of wood exposed to rain.
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

Offline shock

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Re: Drying House Logs
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2019, 06:28:09 PM »
Thanks guys. I can put up a leanto to stack them under. A borate solution makes sense. You might see me in a different sub forum asking more questions later.

Offline barbender

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Re: Drying House Logs
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2019, 07:23:16 PM »
Imo, if you can't keep them reliably covered, don't bother. Whole logs check and get moisture inside them. If I was building a log structure, I'd get them from stump to wall as fast as I could. If you're using spruce, it's a lower moisture content wood in the first place so that helps. You suffer less degrade with them drying in place, in the wall.
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Offline Don P

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Re: Drying House Logs
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2019, 07:16:17 AM »
Milling and borating the timbers and drying them under a lean to shelter is a good plan. Usually when I've seen people try the hunt and peck approach to building a house it rots before they get a lid on the box. Accumulating the materials and drying them until you are ready to push for the roof would work fine. Oversizing them and resurfacing the drying distortions out before putting them in the wall will yield a tighter milled joint.

Borate doesn't actually rinse off in the rain and you are under a sheltering roof which will keep the rain off anyway, it will help deter insects. It doesn't stop bluestain or mold, that is more about the drying conditions. The lean to and thick stickers will help the most there. Since borate only moves in either direction in wood that is above fiber saturation point it works best to apply it right off the mill while the wood is green for deepest penetration. The other side of that, the only time it is moving back out of the wood is when those cells are again above fiber saturation point, then the borate redissolves and can move only between cells that are fully wetted out. That isn't really casual wetting.
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Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: Drying House Logs
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2019, 04:25:22 AM »
It is difficult to get borates deep into a spruce log and many other species.  So, when a log is drying and it cracks, that crack exposes untreated wood or wood with too little borate to be effective as a fungicide or an insecticide.

The most important log in a cabin is the bottom log.  This is the most favorable place for insects and decay as it is the wettert location.  Pay special attention to this log.  The higher you go in a cabin with a good roof overhang, the lower the risk of discoloraction, rot or insects.

There is a large tendency for small logs to twist as they dry.  Twisting cannot be controlled in a wall, so it is important to let the logs dry before installation and then discard twisted and crooked logs.  A log that twists in place requires replacement which is difficult to do without a crane.

A water repellant finish on the outside is important.  
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more


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