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Author Topic: Newbie questions on drying  (Read 3536 times)

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Offline PatrickG

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Newbie questions on drying
« on: February 16, 2004, 08:02:44 PM »
Sorry for the boring newbie questions:

1. If I cut eastern red cedar (juniper?) soon (before sap rises) must the logs be dried before rough sawing on band mill?

2. What should moisture content be reduced to before planing and working with the rough sawn wood above?

Likewise pecan and red oak...

:)Pat :)

Offline Tom

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Re: Newbie questions on drying
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2004, 08:25:47 PM »
Welcome to the Forestry Forum, Patrick.

All wood that I am aware of should be milled as soon as being taken from the stump as possible.  The longer the wood dries the harder it is to saw. Cedar's (juniper) white sap wood will begin to yellow and sawmilling it right after harvest will save the contrasty white and red.  If you are into rustic carpentry, there are "secrets" to sawing cedar that will provide a lot of lumber to the carpenter.  Lumber that would normally be thrown onto a slab pile. One is to cut the slabs deep so as to get 2 to 3 inches that can later be cut vertically for natural edged, 3 inch trim boards and picture frames.  Many odd pieces can be used for handles and accent as well as small novelty signs.

Cedar is a very forgiving and stable wood it can be machined and used, sometimes, as early as 6 weeks after sawing. Many times you may find it usable before that.

Pecan should be sawed quickly also.  It gets very hard. It is not forgiving and should be dried by the rule of thumb of one year to the inch, unless kilned.  Red Oak should be treated the same.  Neither of these woods are very forgiving to careless sawing or drying.

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Offline PatrickG

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Re: Newbie questions on drying
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2004, 05:53:42 AM »
Tom, Thanks so much for the suggestions.  I have seen some windows trimmed with machined eastern red cedar that although finished smoothly and satin  urethaned still had the rustic character with imperfections and voids characteristic of that wood with its many knots.  It was very attractive and I want to duplicate it on the sun porch I am building.

"One man's meat is another's poison", quite true with our "eastern red cedar (AKA juniper) as the federal and state Governments have brush control assistance programs to subsidize the removal of this species as its spread and infestation has reached plague proportions. The problem for me is finding specimens with sufficient diameter carried high enough to yield sufficient widths and lengths when milled.

Thanks again, Tom.  Yet another queston... Does it matter much what season I fell the tree so long as I have it rough sawn promptly?

:P Pat  :P

Offline Tom

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Re: Newbie questions on drying
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2004, 06:44:58 AM »
No.  It doesn't matter to the wood.   :)    I would just be concerned that it wasn't raining cause you'll get wet. :D
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Offline PatrickG

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Re: Newbie questions on drying
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2004, 04:19:16 PM »
Tom, If you are implying that I don't know enough to get out of the rain, get in line, several others are trying to explain it to me.

I realize the following questions are on the order of how high is up and how long is a roll of string but here goes...  About what should it cost me to get some logs rough sawn?  Say, for example, some 10 ft long eastern red cedar logs that are 12 - 14 inches in dia at the small end and  18 or so at the big end and I ask for 4 inch slabs as long as possible and then whatever "works" as the remaining log dictates. My closest mill is a guy with a horizontal band saw mill with gas engine, that raises and lowers hydraulically and traverses the bed with a hydraulic motor for propulsion.   It looks like it might cut up to about 2 ft wide stock and the bed is about 20- ft long. I would expect to take him enough logs to keep him busy for a few hours but I'm not sure what productivity to expect.

I might take him some red oak, hickory, pecan, etc later if the cedar works out.  Should I expect about the same cost/productivity on these species?

:P  Pat   :P

Offline VA-Sawyer

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Re: Newbie questions on drying
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2004, 04:34:21 PM »
PatrickG,
Believe it or not, Mr. Tom went easy on you. He waited till your second post, before adding the smarta$$ remark.  ;D
In case you haven't been lurking here very long,let me tell you this much. About a third of the members here are like Tom. Very knowledgeable on the subjects of wood, lumber and sawing, but just a little too playful ( crazy ) to actually hold the title of Professor.  ;D    If you are crazy enough to hang around, ( I mean, fit in ) then you just may learn a lot. I know that I have.

By the way.... Welcome to the Forum

VA-Sawyer

Offline Tom

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Re: Newbie questions on drying
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2004, 04:55:41 PM »
Thanks Va-Sawyer.  I mean no harm ;D  I didn't even see that side of the joke, I was only seeing the wood gathering side of it. :D  

Patrick, don't be shy to ask questions.  We aren't a board of judges sitting on a panel.  I'm just one of a bunch of guys sitting in the corner.

Cost to get the cedar sawed will depend on two things.  Whether he saws by the board foot or whether he saws by the hour.  Most cu tom sawyers will price board foot sawing at 15 cents to 30 cents per board foot with the bulk falling in the 20 to 25 cent category.  That is on usable boards created.  If you ask for thick slabs then you may be charged for them at some kind of ball-park figure. It's difficult to judge board footage on cedar because of its highly tapered shape.

Hourly charges will generally run from $30 to $50 per hour which isn't too bad if the guy is productive.  Anything you can do to make his job easier by preparing the logs before hand or helping with the sawmill should make this type charging fall more in your favor.

I don't know what the shape of your logs are but a good figure for daily production in a custom sawing atmosphere on a hydraulic bandmill is between 1000 and 1500 board feet per day.  Some may saw more but you will not usually get less.
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Offline Fla._Deadheader

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Re: Newbie questions on drying
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2004, 05:06:43 PM »
  I'll chime in a little here. ;D

 We sell natural edge slabs to a Lumber Yard. We scale the log at mid-length, half way between both ends. Sometimes we gain a little, sometimes we lose a little.

  Have sold about15,000 bd/ft this way, and the buyer and seller are both satisfied. Try measuring the width in all three places and see if you get an accurate average. The only problem will be narrower width closer to the outside and wider width closer to the center, because of the small dia. of your logs.

  Do some careful measuring and see what the sawyer will go with.

 My guess is, hourly charges, IF you cut the stubs CLOSE to the log. Specialty cuts with 1 stub can be done, but, sawyers don't like stubby logs. We saw our own and do as we please.      Hope this helps.
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Offline PatrickG

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Re: Newbie questions on drying
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2004, 01:51:03 PM »
Thanks everyone, I appreciate your info.  I don't have much choice as I have only found one person with a band mill in my area and I had to help them allign one of the large steel wheels in its bearings to get it to cut straight.  He said it was diving down into the wood when last used (14-16 months ago.)  I promised to get some fuel line and plastic tubing for the water drip on the blade to get it back up to par so it could be run long enough to cut my wood.  It was a cold day so our test cuts on a well dried red oak log didn't heat the blade enough to feel warm to the touch.

I guess I will find out about economy after the first iteration of sawing.  He said he would charge me $20/hour clocked on the hour meter (Hobbs).  Price is good compared to your estimates, what remains to be seen is the useable output produced per hour.  

I expect to follow the advice received here earlier and have the logs cut into thick slabs to later be ripped on a table saw  to produce rough "boards" to be planed on three sides for trim around windows.

If there is a flaw in this approach or a better way, please advise.  I like to think I am ignorant, not stupid.  (Ignorance is curable through education by study, advice, or experience but stupidity is pretty well a chronic condition.)

If the cedar/juniper experiment is successful I will try to do some pecan, black walnut, hickory, and red oak.  I have plenty of covered space to stack wood for drying where there will be good air circulation.  After all this is Oklalhoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.

Side note:  Years back a state biologist went on a personal drive to try to "correct" the use of terminology as regards the "cedar" that is infesting our part of the world and call them juniper.  Score remains, scientist 0 yokels 1.

 Pat     :P

Offline Furby

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Re: Newbie questions on drying
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2004, 02:04:31 PM »
Welcome Pat!
I really can't help much with your ?'s so far, but if the guy that has the mill hasn't used it in that long, I'm thinking he may just be ready to part with the mill.  ;) ;) You could make him an offer.  ::)
It'll save you trouble in the long run because after you help him saw your logs, you'll be looking for your own mill anyways.  ;D ;) ;)

Offline PatrickG

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Re: Newbie questions on drying
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2004, 02:15:43 PM »
The thought of making an offer for the mill fleetingly passed through my thoughts but...I think the mill is actually his fathers and judging by the collection of "stuff" (much of it inop) laying about (trucks, farm equipment, etc) I don't think they part with their "stuff".  I think the $20/hour is for the guy to make a few bucks in his spare time.  They may have bought the thing with some sort of vague notion of making $ with it.  It is one of those situations where logic is last in line.  

I have already had thoughts of buying a used one or building a mill.  It would likely be smaller and not have hydraulic thickness setting, hydraulic propulsion, hydraulic blade tension, and such as an economy measure.

:P  Pat   :P

Offline Tom

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Re: Newbie questions on drying
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2004, 02:27:55 PM »
What manufacture and model of mill does he have, Pat?  Blades diving are typical of mis-aligned guide systems. Tweeking the wheels is a major adjustment for blade tracking on the wheel. If he is a novice, it may pay to read the book on the mill so that y'all don't it too out of whack.

If it has roller guides and you get them set properly according to the manufacturers specs and use a new sharp blade, you will have the bulk of your problems covered.  

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Offline PatrickG

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Re: Newbie questions on drying
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2004, 06:08:59 AM »
I don't know the brand but will probably look it over this weekend and may find out.  It has about an 18 ft long bed, cuts up to about 19-20 inches wide (I think), and is made as a trailer.  It has several adjustable legs for leveling on site. The wheels that the band-blade runs on are seriously heavy steel about a foot or so in diameter.  There is a hand pumped hydraulic system for blade tension and a gauge to indicate pressure.  I was told that they take it up to about 2,000 lbs.  The two large bearings that support the idler wheel (?) were replaced and likely were not alligned properly resulting in the blade "diving" that was reported.

I loosened the pairs of mounting bolts for those bearings and we "tweaked" the wheel by guess and by golly and retightened them.  We made a small test cut and it wasn't level so I retweaked the bearings and made a couple test cuts that the second of which produced a half inch thick slab about 11-12 feet long.  Clearly, I'm no expert but it looked good to me.  I employed my best Karate and removed a sample from each  end of the slab and held them together to compare thicknesses.  I could not see any difference in thickness so not knowing any better I assumed the "adjusting the blade" exercise was a success.

I hope to cut some trees today and or tomorrow and get them  slabbed on the mill on the weekend.  The operator is a young family man who is trying to get a small business started (home appraisal for loan companies) and is only available on weekends on a not to interfere with any appraisal appointments basis.

Blade tracking adjust by tweaking the wheel(s)...  I forgot to mention that the blade wasn't running centered on the wheel either till I made the adjustments. Roller guides?  There are two rollers behind the blade which appear to be to take the thrust of the blade being pushed back by the force of contact with the log. These were not too free and made a few sparks when contacted by the back of the blade.  I freed them up by turning by hand and oiling.  There are a couple rubbing blocks just above the blade that might be taking the place of guide rollers.  

I will be buying some tubing and getting the water drip blade cooling system working again.  How  much flow is appropriate?  Should it be  drip drip drip or a constant small flow or what?  The original water tank isn't there but the tank holder suggests the tank was at most 5-6 gallons of water.and it is a simplle gravity system.

It hadn't been run for 16 months but started easily enough and after warming up (cold day... 25F)  it cut OK.

The adventure will continlue...

:P  Pat   :P

Offline Tom

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Re: Newbie questions on drying
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2004, 06:30:37 AM »
The water is a blade lubricant. Start with a drip, drip and increase the flow as needed to keep the blade from gumming up.  The water makes the blade wet so centrifugal force can sling the gum and sawdust from the blade.  On juniper you shouldn't have too much gumming problems. The tank was probably 3 to 5 gallons. It's not unusual to go through 3 gallons, or more,  an hour in high resin situations. Each log will be different so you want to be able to control the flow. Even a stick stuck in the tube will work. Just cut a flat spot on it to make a valve.  If the flat spot slopes, you can adjust the flow. ;D

Those "rub" plates are the guides and should not be touching the blade.  they should be exactly lined up with the blade and "almost" touching the blade (think in terms of a coat of paint).  There should be two sets of them.  Each set will have a plate above the blade and a plate below the blade.  Their purpose is to control catastrophic deviation not to hold the blade in normal operation.

The wheel you mention is for thrust. and supports the blade when cutting pressure is applied.  It should not touch the blade until cutting pressure is applied.  Usually they are adjusted to be 1/32 or 1/16 behind the blade.  If the blade touches it all of the time, the bearing will go bad quickly.
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Offline PatrickG

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Re: Newbie questions on drying
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2004, 02:15:41 PM »
Thanks Tom, Looks like my guesses were pretty close to the mark.  I curt down a 24 inch diameter cedar this PM and hope to get some smaller ones tomorrow.  

Two problems:  1.  There is a piece of wire sticking out of the cedar where it would have been about 10 ft above the ground.  I will try to pull it out.  If I have to excise it I will loose some length to my output materials.  I have a small metal detecting wand that I will use on it before sawing after I get the wire out.  2. The first few feet of the big end are probably too big for his saw and it will take me FOREVER with my toy chain saw to whittle it down (cutting slabs off the sides to square it up some.).  

The tree had been girdled a few months ago to a depth ot about 2 inches about 3 ft above the ground.  For better or worse I cut it where it had been girdled.  There is some rot at the big end and bugs too.  It remains to be seen how far the damage goes.

Oh well, It is an opportunity to learn.  the wood is sure pretty with a lot of deep red.

:P  Pat   :P


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