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Author Topic: Drying large slabs...  (Read 1111 times)

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Offline Daburner87

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Drying large slabs...
« on: October 01, 2022, 03:10:20 PM »
I'm looking to gain more knowledge in drying slabs.  I see a lot of people seem to mill the slabs, and then stack them upwards vertically.  Some sticker them and stack them right away.  Some say to wait about one year before moving into a solar kiln.    I am trying to plan out my future, and with large slabs taking 2-3 years to air dry it's important I figure out my yard space and stack these well from the get go.  I don't have any machines to move stacks of cut lumber yet although I am planning on getting a fork lift at some point in time.   So how do you guys dry your slabs, what's your preferred method?
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Offline scsmith42

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Re: Drying large slabs...
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2022, 03:42:19 PM »
The short answer is that it depends upon the species and thickness.  Different species dry at different rates.

Usually for a thick slab  you won't go wrong by air drying under cover for 1 - 2 years or more, and then finishing off in a kiln.

I've been known to go into a solar kiln green with 10/4 oak slabs, but that's only when I block off around 75% of the collector to limit the temp inside.

What species / thickness of slabs are you working with?
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Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Drying large slabs...
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2022, 09:13:21 AM »
  A kiln would be the right way. Here I have been sawing thick hardwood for a long time and have several thousand foot on sticks outside under tin roofs. Powder post beetles, that is one problem and splitting another. Stacking should be done on a flat surface and stickered all the way out on the ends. Tremendous weight on top, roofed over and ends tarped [sides open for wind] and years to wait. Just keep sawing and stacking. Spray borate. You must have a forklift. Oak is trouble, drys very slow [if ever] and splits bad. Colored woods are best like walnut and cherry. Cedars are the best of all. I bring the best stuff inside after a few years. I remember when you couldn't sell 'live edge' [round edge]. Now it pays the bills.

Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Drying large slabs...
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2022, 12:56:01 PM »
These guys are on point.  

Large slabs are a total pain in all aspects, except the money they bring.

Saw em, stack em, forget about them.  Then saw some more and some more, and about the time you say youll never do anymore, the first batch is ready to sell and youve hit the jackpot.  Then you saw some more.... :D :D
YellowHammerisms:

Take steps to save steps.

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Kiln drying wood: When the cookies are burned, theyre burned, and you cant fix them.  So dont burn the cookies.

Sawing is fun for the first couple hundred boards.

Offline doc henderson

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Re: Drying large slabs...
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2022, 01:08:05 PM »
So YH you are saying they are a pain in the "aspect"?   :o :o :o  tincture of time.  slow and steady.  all that jazz. :)
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Offline doc henderson

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Re: Drying large slabs...
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2022, 01:09:40 PM »
i have some 3 and 4 inch thick ones leaning on the wall of my shop, and I do not even remember where I got them from.  I can often tell you where the tree came from and the story behind it.
Timber king 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor powered by a 12 volt tarp motor

Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Drying large slabs...
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2022, 01:20:26 PM »
Yeah, a 2-6 year pain in the aspect requiring covered storage. I have a 3 inch slab that lived in the yard for a while, then I got an order to make a service bar out of it and took it to get planed, then put it on a roller table in the shop for the last 1.6 years. It's been serving nicely as a tool repository (easy there Doc). The client keeps asking how it's coming. ;D Truthfully, I am waiting and watching to see if it remains stable. I will probably have close to 2 gallons of epoxy going into this one as well as plenty of hours, so I want to be sure.  :D :) So far it has done a good job of holding up all those tools. ;D
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I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, but almost.

Offline Stephen1

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Re: Drying large slabs...
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2022, 03:13:17 PM »
I saw, stack and sticker. I usually ratchet strap the as a stickered log. then I put them in the kiln. I do not advertise. What I have just sells as people gradually find out about me. Walnut and Cherry  sell the best. 
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Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Drying large slabs...
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2022, 08:49:42 AM »
When drying large slabs I'm a believer in chemical assistance.... Lots of borax and antifungal agent so they can dry slowly at the start.

Once I've got them below 20% or so I'll go for accelerated air drying... ie I stick them up high near the shed roof so they're getting considerably more heat than they would otherwise. The daytime heat pulls water out of them while the nightly cooling cycle gives them a chance to relax which helps prevent splitting. I might turn them over every few months to alleviate cupping if necessary.

I regularly get 3" thick slabs in difficult to dry species down to EMC in 9-12 months with almost no degrade this way, albeit I'm in the tropics and snow isn't a thing here ever. But you need heat or airflow to dry wood, and I've found a cost effective option between kiln drying and waiting forever. 



 

If you want to do numbers though the best option is a vacuum kiln.
The quickest way to make a million dollars with a sawmill is to start with two million.

Offline BML1221

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Re: Drying large slabs...
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2022, 08:20:15 AM »
I have some large white oak slabs3.5 thick, 68 wide at the max, and 10-11 long. As others have said, they were miserable to deal with in most every way, but saving the tree from the wood pile was worth it. I have them stacked and stickered and will wait 1-2 years of air drying before taking some to a local vacuum kiln. Or maybe Ill really forget about them and let them air dry to the end. 

Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Drying large slabs...
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2022, 08:56:47 AM »
I made this picnic table and delivered it back in July. 2 3/4" white oak after flattening. Weighed in at about 350 pounds. Air dried only 5-6 years, stickered in covered drying shed. You are lucky to have a kiln available. I had a little trouble getting consistent finishes because of varying wood density. Next time I will use sanding sealer (I learned that trick too late for this one) and I expect it to go a lot better.



 
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
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I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, but almost.

Offline tule peak timber

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Re: Drying large slabs...
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2022, 09:20:53 AM »
These guys are on point.  

Large slabs are a total pain in all aspects, except the money they bring.

Saw em, stack em, forget about them.  Then saw some more and some more, and about the time you say youll never do anymore, the first batch is ready to sell and youve hit the jackpot.  Then you saw some more.... :D :D
Bingo...... :)
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