Buying green cut wood question

Justin Presson

Well-Known Member
I seen a recent post in my area on facebook market for some rough cut walnut.
My question is if I buy something like this in the picture what should I do with it as far as drying it and how long does it need to set before you can use it. How do you minimize cracking and is it ok in this form or better another way?
thanks
Justin


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Dennis Morland

KNIFE MAKER
Justin

There are a great deal of variables involved in your questions to get good helpful answers. I am not an expert in this process.

But, my father owned and operated a saw mill for years. I accumulated personal observations but very little learning in the whole process. He always stacked drying lumber just like your picture. Some of the thicker pieces sat for years. Some thinner stuff, not so much. Different wood took different drying times. I still have a great deal of his walnut, oak, cottonwood, cedar, etc. It is stacked in my shed, just like your picture. Some of it is decades old.

1) You indicated "green" rough cut lumber. I do not see that indicated in the FB post. It says rough cut. I do not see "green" rough cut. The reason I say this is that from looking at the stacking method (spacers) it looks like it is already in the drying process or dry stage. If you could get a moisture content it would help a great deal to get a good answer. It may be fairly close as it sits. The spacers are the most used method for naturally drying wood. Kiln dried speeds up the process. But it leads to problems also.

Dad always just cut it, spaced it, ventilated it, kept it dry, and let it sit. You may get some twisting, cracking and warping depending on your climate, temp. changes, and humidity. Some folks seal the ends with wax. It may help to reduce the twisting and warpage. It may not. From personal observation, I am not convinced it helps all that much. But, we lived in Nebraska with bigger temp. changes, humidity changes, and other climate issues.

2) I have seen some wood take years to dry. Like 2-3 years. Usually thicker pieces like fireplace mantels, and gun stocks. It really depends on the climate and the humidity. Arizona is a great place to have wood air-dried. Very low moisture, low temp. swings, and very low humidity for the most part. Way better than here in the Midwest.

I'm sorry I cannot give you any better answers. I will caution you to make sure the rough sawn lumber is thick enough to be planed and still have enough width for a knife handle. Planing will take some off each side. Usually more than you anticipate. If you start at 1.5 inches and only remove .25 inches you should be good to go fro scales and blocks. For me, it is hard to get a decent set of scales from anything less than 1 inch wide. I prefer 1.25 inches. Others may vary. Just be careful. Like metal, once removed and it is gone forever.

If you look around, I am pretty sure you can find a sawmill near you. Probably several that offer rough cut lumber of all species. Part of the fun is finding that magical piece. Lots of oak and walnut in your area. Probably cherry, and maple too.

From what you posted, that wood is pretty cheap. It does not give widths and lengths to tell for sure. Good luck in your search.

DeMo
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
Buying "green" wood of any type is a gamble. And a "long term" investment...simply because there's no correct/good answer as to how long it will require to dry/cure. If you're in an environment such as DeMo or myself, it can be as little as 1-2 years, or if you live in a humid environment, much longer. Also, make sure when you view woods, think of how it will look in pieces sized for knife handles (if that's what you're wanting it for).... many times a bigger board/piece of wood looks really good, but once it's cut into knife handle size pieces, it's kinda "ho-hum". Personally, I tend to buy larger "chunks" of wood and cut it myself, only because it seems to be the only way I can get the sizes I need. I just returned from the Blade Show, and after going all over that show, looking for blocks suitable for what I do with knife handles, couldn't find a single block of wood for sale that was large enough for me. It seems that everybody keeps making blocks smaller and smaller, and pricing it higher and higher. I asked one individual who had a truck load of 1 1/4" ironwood blocks if he had anything usable for knife handles.....that wasn't very well received. :)
 
A good rule of thumb for air drying green wood is 2 years + 1 year for each inch of thickness over 1 inch. I. E. 1" thick=2 years, 2"=3 years. The best way to minimize cracking/checking is to wax the ends.
Personally wouldn't pend time on green wood unless it was free r dirt cheap. Lots of strange things could happen before it fully cures.
 

C Craft

Well-Known Member
Darrin is right on the head with that advice. Air drying green wood is 2 years + 1 year for each inch of thickness over 1 inch. I. E. 1" thick=2 years, 2"=3 years. Only thing I might add is de-bark it because you may have and infestation of bugs hatching under the bark and there ready source of food is the tree that you brought them in on! Paint the ends to seal it. I had some what I thought was use-able very figured wood. As Ed said when I got to cutting it up an you factored in the bark edges what looked like a lot, was very little! When it dried it lost a lot of the figure and even though I tried several techniques to bring back the figure. I never could get it too look like it did when I first cut it!!
 

Justin Presson

Well-Known Member
Thank you all for the input, its local walnut so I like that and would like to make some from Missouri walnut and if it takes a few years Im ok with that. I will keep an eye out for some and if I get a good deal I might jump on it.

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CAJones

Well-Known Member
For common species such as walnut I'd just hit Metro Hardwoods and you don't have to worry about dry time. That is unless you find a burl or some really good figure of course.

Chris
 

Justin Presson

Well-Known Member
For common species such as walnut I'd just hit Metro Hardwoods and you don't have to worry about dry time. That is unless you find a burl or some really good figure of course.

Chris
Good idea Chris I forgot about that place, I need to hit Tandy Leather to and they are not far apart.

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scott.livesey

Dealer - Purveyor
just call or email the seller and ask when the tree was cut and how many months is has been stacked as shown. the lumber sellers I have dealt with are very upfront about whether a piece is green, air dried or kiln dried. I have had figure seem to go away only for it to reappear after planing the board. good luck
 

Jammer Six

Well-Known Member
Build a simple kiln. It's easy, and will kill bugs that air drying won't.

The easiest kiln is just a box with a dehumidifier in it, and a hose from the drain on the dehumidifier leading out of the box. Start with a light bulb in the box, to raise the temperature.

What happens is that the high temperature forces water out of the wood, which triggers the dehumidifier. When the dehumidifier runs, it raises the temperature in the box, and the cycle repeats.

A good target, in a small (say, 4'x4'x8') is about 100 degree F.

It cuts those years people are talking about down to days.

Be aware that the reason people buy filches (which is what the picture shows) is to get matching color among wood that is sawn in different ways-- a filch will have quarter sawn and plane sawn, and everything in between, all in matching grain and color.

Unless your building furniture, there's no reason to pay the premium price for a full filch. Buy the same grade of material one at a time, instead of buying the filch, and it will be cheaper. (You're going to find that the seller won't want to break up his filch, because it's worth more as a filch. You don't need to pay that premium if you're looking for scale material.)

Good luck!
 

J. Hoffman

Dealer - Purveyor
Kiln drying alone will not kill the bugs. You need to tell your kiln operator that you have bugs/worms. I believe to they will run the kiln up to 120 degrees for a period to kill the critters. Just normal kiln drying is done at a lower temperature that doesn't kill the bugs.
 

Jammer Six

Well-Known Member
All wood has bugs when it comes out of the forest. The question isn't if, the questions are which ones and how much. Different bugs have different sensitivity to both heat and lack of water. It's not just a question of any one element, it's also a question of time.

Come on over, you can help me clean the dead bugs out of the kiln after the next run.

That doesn't even touch on the subject of spalting, which is the debris left in a war to the death between two competing species of bugs.
 
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