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Author Topic: Sugar maple questions  (Read 4366 times)

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Offline qbilder

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Sugar maple questions
« on: October 04, 2012, 04:39:01 PM »
Hi folks. I have a couple questions about maple. First ones are easy enough, how do you prevent sticker stain and how long can it be dead stacked before gray stain begins setting in?

Now for the tough one. I cut trees in Ohio, Wisconsin, & Michigan. Maple seems to be maple, regardless of where I cut the tree. I live in New Mexico, a very dry & warmer climate with relative humidity often in single digits. I cut the trees & mill the lumber, then bring the lumber here to NM where I air dry it under roof with a fan. Something I have noticed is that once dry, wood from the trees I cut is very, very stable, bright white, and it smells like maple syrup when cutting. However, maple that I buy that has been kiln dried is often more of a cream color, rarely bright white like mine, and it smells noticeably different when cutting. Which brings my question, does kiln drying somehow cook the wood, causing some sort of chemical change due to the heat? I have also noticed a lot more stress in the kiln dried wood. It warps & twists & such either while cutting or shortly after. What is it about kiln drying that makes the difference? Might it be the high heat for sanitation?

Just something I have been wondering. Little things keep my mind spinning sometimes  :D
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Offline beenthere

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2012, 05:15:40 PM »
Before drawing conclusions regards kiln drying vs air drying, there are likely several other variables that can enter into the equation that you cannot put your finger on. i.e. when the logs were cut, how long they lay before sawing into lumber, temperatures, etc. And not to skip the kiln drying schedules that may have been used, nor the better looking maple from the kilns that was sold off before finding their way to a market in NM.

How important are the specific answers? 
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Offline qbilder

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2012, 05:29:27 PM »
Specific answers certainly not important. I'm basically looking to see if anybody has any ideas, or possibly have noticed some of the same things. I have bought maple from a yard in New London, WI, (spend a fair amount of time there with family) and cut trees near New London, and the wood smells different, with the wood I milled also being whiter. The only difference I can think of would be the kiln. But I hadn't considered how long the logs sat before they were milled. I mill mine literally within hours of felling, never more than 24hrs.
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2012, 06:09:26 PM »
I've not noticed a difference in smell of maple from air drying to kiln dried unless the log laid a little too long and it has a manure smell to it. ;D The surface may be yellowed some from the kiln or depending on how long it has been stored might be from UV to, but when planed your back into white usually from my experience and I use select or better. You wood smellers must be like the wood licker group. ;D ;)

Still making pool cues?  ;D

Move'n on.

Offline qbilder

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2012, 07:07:31 PM »
LOL I lick wood, too  :D

Yeah, still making a few but not many and not fast. School full time plus a six year old in soccer & a 17 year old on the swim team, not much "me" time left over.

Cues are the reason I cut maple. I use maple for the shaft end, and obviously need it to be stable so it'll stay straight. Thus far the very best results are coming from cutting very straight under growth trees (juveniles), quarter sawing them, and air drying. All the wood is white, mostly clean, and very stable. That's the reason I even have a sawmill. Buying wood was like playing roulette. Might look ok but full of stress & never stay straight. My yield was about 30% or less, not good. Choosing my own trees & milling with cues in mind makes a huge difference. The yield jumped to around 80-90%, and costs way less.

I have cut thousands of BF of maple through the years and well familiar with the scent. But air dried stuff smells totally different, sweeter, kinda like it does when it's being milled.       
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Offline beenthere

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2012, 07:45:50 PM »
qbilder
Have you tried splitting the cue blanks out of maple?

The split likely would follow the grain and let you know if there is any squirely grain that would cause trouble. Then sticker and dry the blanks for turning. Rejects from warp would be noticed before turning.
The growth stressed areas should show up too.

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Offline WDH

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2012, 09:11:30 PM »
Down here, with the heat and humidity, maple will gray stain on you if you turn your back on it.  Can't lay long before sawing.
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Offline qbilder

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2012, 10:07:16 PM »
qbilder
Have you tried splitting the cue blanks out of maple?

The split likely would follow the grain and let you know if there is any squirely grain that would cause trouble. Then sticker and dry the blanks for turning. Rejects from warp would be noticed before turning.
The growth stressed areas should show up too.

No, I haven't tried that. It's a good idea. Thanks :)
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Offline Okrafarmer

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2012, 11:46:13 PM »
Down here, with the heat and humidity, maple will gray stain on you if you turn your back on it.  Can't lay long before sawing.

I've really only had that happen on the ends of a log. Usually, if a maple log has lain around a while, I cut a few inches off each end anyway, so it's easier going for the sawmill. I do that with a lot of other species, too.
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Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2012, 12:14:08 AM »
Here is a free report on stain causes and cures
http://forest.wisc.edu/sites/default/files/pdfs/publications/64.PDF

Color is determined by how the wood is handled once the tree is felled.  Any delay in sawing, stacking or drying will cause loss of whiteness.  Further, drying over 105 F when wet will discolor.  Going over 160 F will darken the color.

There are several Species of wood that change their smell,when air dried including white oak and sugar maple.

It is quite common to split wood and then saw parallel to the split surfaces to minimize warping of items such as cues.
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

Offline qbilder

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2012, 10:24:25 AM »
Thanks, Doc.  :) This helps a lot. I'm not crazy after all  :D 
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Offline qbilder

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2012, 10:54:14 AM »
Thanks again, Doc. Just read through the report & found my faults. I have only had one problem load but it was about 1500bf of incredible wood ruined. I milled it & left it dead stacked for a couple weeks while I went on a pheasant hunting trip. I figured the cool winter weather would buy me some time, but I guess not. The entire load gray stained. A few boards also sticker stained & I'm not exactly sure why, but the report gave me some ideas. Thanks again.

I have one more question if you care to answer. Would using PVC pipe as stickers prevent sticker stain? The surface contact is minimal and there's no moisture in the PVC. It's also cheap & reusable. Is there something about that idea that would cause other issues?
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Offline Red Clay Hound

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2012, 12:06:16 PM »
In my opinion, using PVC pipe would not be good option.  The stack would not be stable as the round pipe would tend to roll and the stack would slide off and collapse.  Just make sure to use clean, dry stickers.
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Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2012, 07:23:07 PM »
PVC has been used...just cut it in half to make a half-pipe.  Expensive.  Dry wood is much cheaper.  In a pinch use 1x2 pine from the lumber supply store.
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Offline qbilder

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2012, 11:45:33 AM »
Many thanks for all the thoughts & advice.
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Online stavebuyer

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2012, 05:44:30 AM »
Curious if the KD maple you buy comes from the Great Lakes area where you cut your own? Maple from further south will have more of a cream color than winter cut northern maple which is about snow white.

Offline qbilder

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2012, 03:18:17 PM »
Curious if the KD maple you buy comes from the Great Lakes area where you cut your own? Maple from further south will have more of a cream color than winter cut northern maple which is about snow white.

Most wood I have bought came from UP Michigan. That's where I used to go to get my maple before I had a sawmill. I understand the common accepted "knowledge" about northern maple having tighter grain lines, whiter, denser, etc. etc. etc., but all of my personal experiences point to that all being myth. At least for my specific application, it is myth. I can't speak for any other industry.

With billiard cues, an ideal maple shaft will be white with 10-20 grains per inch of growth, straight grain, & relatively dense. On my cues, I like the weight of the shaft to be minimum 3.7oz. A 4.2oz shaft is considered to be very dense, and anything over is rare. So far the best wood I have ever had came from SE Ohio. That wood is the whitest & heaviest I have ever had, period. It's as white as paper & the shafts from it weigh in all over 4.2oz with many in the 4.5oz range. The grain count ranges perfectly between 10 & 20+. The wood from the Ohio River valley far exceeds the quality of the wood I was getting in UP Michigan. It may be important to know that by shaft I mean a piece of round wood that is 29.5" long, .880" at one end, .513" at the other end, with a series of tapers in between to curve the size difference. Every piece is the same dimension to within a couple thousandths of an inch.

I do believe that by choosing my own trees and processing everything myself, there is a difference in end quality. I choose very straight under growth trees that are likely to have minimal heart, slow consistent growth, and very straight grain. I cut the tree, mill the logs, and sticker/stack all within hours. If I understand what Doc showed, then this explains the very white color. The density & growth rate, however, I can only speculate to reason, but can certainly note the experience. It is what it is, even if I do not know exactly why. Logic points toward colder, shorter growing seasons creating better wood. That's why I believed it. But from what I can see, reality says sugar maple is sugar maple. It all sure has me baffled. That's why i'm asking questions   ???
 
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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2012, 04:21:38 PM »
To help you out, "tighter grain lines", "grains per inch", and "grain count", I think you mean rings and not grains.

Go Ohio, you have a market opening up.  :)
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Offline qbilder

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #18 on: October 07, 2012, 06:54:29 PM »
To help you out, "tighter grain lines", "grains per inch", and "grain count", I think you mean rings and not grains.

Go Ohio, you have a market opening up.  :)

You are correct. We call them grain "lines" in cues because that's what you see. In a 1" x 1" x 29.5" spindle blank,  it looks like lines. In log form, it's rings. We count the lines at the end of the blank & it gives a rough guesstimate of growth rate. I found out pretty quickly that you can get a wide array of "grain count" shafts from the same tree. Might get one shaft with 12gpi & another from the same log with 18gpi. The more I learn about this stuff the more interesting it gets. Things I thought I knew are turning out to be wrong, and things that would otherwise seem insignificant, make a huge difference.

To the best of my knowledge, I am the first & only cue maker to personally execute every single step from choosing a tree through to polishing the finish. I knew before I started that I would likely screw up a lot, ruin some wood, & possibly stumble across some truths that contradict common beliefs. I know of only one other that mills & dries maple for their shaft wood, but they don't log. They buy veneer logs. So I don't really have anybody in my industry to learn from. I'm learning it on my own through experience and research. I sure do appreciate everybody that has chimed in.                     
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Offline Okrafarmer

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Re: Sugar maple questions
« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2012, 09:16:43 PM »
Well it's interesting hearing about your endeavors. I hope you continue to do well with it.  :)
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