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How dry is dry enough

Discussion in 'Milling & Saw Mills' started by Rosss, Jun 29, 2018.

  1. Rosss

    Rosss ArboristSite Operative

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    I have some spruce slabs that I milled a few months ago. They were stickered and left to sit.
    I had to move them off the property where they were milled today and they were a lot lighter :)

    I moisture tested them and the reading from the most central location with the probes pushed all the way in was 11%.

    I was surprised given that I had the understanding that they would take a year or more to dry.

    Now that I have 11% is it reasonable to sell them to people who actually want to make stuff with them and tell them they can
    or
    do I need to tell people to let them dry out more or to slowly aclimatize them to the environment they are going to put them in.

    Or some other approach?

    I don't want to sell to someone and then have them make something and have their money, time and effort wasted.
    I have sold a few pieces green but had many inquires from people who thought they could make stuff right away with it, so not expecting experience buyers who know what moisture content they can work with successfully.

    I live in Alberta. It is dry here. I measured the moisture content of some old cedar logs I have been milling that have been outside for 30 or 40 years and they all test at 6% or don't give a reading because my meter won't read low enough.

    I am using a timber check moisture meter.
     
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  2. The Singing Arborist

    The Singing Arborist ArboristSite Member

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    I chainsaw milled up my first cherry this spring in march...milled them at 6/4. I let them sit outside for an air dry, then about 2 weeks ago i was curious about their moisture content. My reader was around 7-8% with the prongs in as far as I could get them.

    Stoked to get to work on making a table with them, I started planing off the chainsaw marks with a powered hand planer. After getting them fairly flat for a router sled, I read the moisture again.. this time 20-25%.

    It seems after taking off about 1/8th inch, I exposed some wetter wood...looks like more wait time for me. You may try planing one out a little and see what the moisture is after.
     
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  3. Cease232

    Cease232 ArboristSite Guru

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    Ive been fooled as well. Wood that appears dry on the outside is not dry on the inside. I’d advise you to wait, or cut a board in half and test the center of the wood.


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  4. ChoppyChoppy

    ChoppyChoppy Addicted to ArboristSite

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    We just throw all the slabs in a rack, band it when full and forklift out of the rack. Sell for $100, it's about a cord of wood. People burn them, use them for fencing, siding, whatever..
     
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  5. rarefish383

    rarefish383 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I think we need a stickie with a definition of terms. Most folks coming here refer to a "Slab" as a thick board with live edges on both sides, that they plan on making an heirloom table out of. Sawyers refer to slabs as the thin, mostly bark, first layer milled off before you make a cant. Slab wood is often sold as a cheap, low grade firewood, even it it's a good hard wood species, because it's mostly bark. Then to make it even more confusing, the high end marketers of the live edge boards, call them slabs. The pieces below are referred to as slabs by the exotic wood salesmen.
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. ChoppyChoppy

    ChoppyChoppy Addicted to ArboristSite

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    In the pic is a live edge board.
     
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  7. rarefish383

    rarefish383 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I agree. But, the sellers list it as a slab. I think they have just gotten so used to the public calling big thick boards slabs, that they just call them slabs.

    Just like when I went to the place that sells top soil and mulch. I ordered 5 tandem loads of unscreened "FILL Dirt". I got home as they were dumping the third load of rubble. All rock, cinder block, rebar, not a speck of dirt in it, whatever came off the screen. I went back to their yard and stood in front of a 50' high pile of red clay, dirt, and said I wanted 5 loads of that. He said, "OH that's top soil, fill is what comes off the screen." Now, dirt from 10' down in the ground is not topsoil. From 4 generations of tree care, I know topsoil is the top 10 inches or so of soil with aerobic and microbiol activity taking place. But, he's the one with the dump trucks and loaders, so I guess he can call his product what ever he wants. So, now if I don't want rubble, and I don't want screened topsoil with leafpro mixed in, I have to speak his language and order Unscreened "Topsoil". Even though I know by definition it's fill dirt.

    The only definition of slab that I found is, "The half round, half sawn" piece that comes off a log when squaring it"

    Slang term Slab, "Thick heavy board".
     
  8. Rosss

    Rosss ArboristSite Operative

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    I was going to post a pic of the slabs in question but didn't have my phone handy.
    I think terms are also regional. To me this is a live edge slab. 16 feet long 22 inches wide and a bit over two inches thick.

    I live edge board ( to me would be an inch thick and less than 12 inches wide. IMG_20180629_171014.jpg
    I have no idea if others in my regoin would also view it that way.

    I know that sawers commonly call the first cut off a log a slab, but only from reading posts here some time ago.

    I will be more specific in future posts :)
     
  9. Little Al

    Little Al Addicted to ArboristSite

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    If you advertise the slabs & a punter comes to look show them the moisture reading by jabbing with the meter & leave the yes/no decision to them some of the guys getting wood bring & test with their own meters
     
  10. abbott295

    abbott295 ArboristSite Operative

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    We also speak of "slab doors" or "door slabs". How anyone defines it, if they actually do, I don't know. I think of it as a door, basically maybe without being bored for a knob or mortised for hinges, but it is recognizable as a door, nowhere near as rough as these other "slabs".
     
  11. Sourwould

    Sourwould ArboristSite Operative

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    Aren't soft woods supposed to be pretty quick to dry? I would think a lot of it would depend on your climate. I doubt you'd get a price of wood below 15-20 percent here no matter how long it sat.

    When advertising to sell, you could always just list the moisture content you measured in the ad and have the customer draw their own conclusions. I wouldn't make promises to a customer about what they could potentially do or not do. Just list the facts. Dried for x amount of time, moisture content measured at x percent.

    Green wood has great uses in crafts also.

    Those are some great looking slabs. Wish we had more softwoods here, they're my favorite to work with.
     
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  12. tomsteve

    tomsteve ArboristSite Operative

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    id cut 4 or so inches of the end of one and check the MC in the end grain.
     
  13. Sawyer Rob

    Sawyer Rob Addicted to ArboristSite

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    AND, actually what is being called a "slab" in here, is REALLY, a thick "flitch"!!

    Why can't the newbs in here get on board with the proper names, so we can all get on the same page, to more easily answer questions?

    You CAN be "assimilated", resistance is futile! lol

    SR
     
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  14. Sourwould

    Sourwould ArboristSite Operative

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    I don't believe that the term "slab" for a live edge plank is really a corruption. I believe this is a difference in vernacular between different trades, times and locations. I have heard the term slab for half round waste used by sawyers and the term slab for live edge used by joiners and carpenters.

    I consider a slab to be a through and through (bark to bark) plain sawn plank of wood, regardless of having a live edge. Probably because I'm a carpenter. I have also seen this terminology in books on traditional wood working, as heavy European planning benches used "slab tops." This nomenclature may be of continental origin.

    I don't really have any evidence to back this up and would need to refer to some books, but I think this use of the word slab may come from old timey pit sawing. Traditionally, the first cut was made in the middle of the cant to "split the heart," unless large plain sawn planks were needed (such as for "slab top" benches). During the age of pit sawing, logs were first hewn into square cants with axes. So there were no half round waste slabs, just axe chips. It's possible the term "slab" for a heavy wide plank predates the term for milling waste. Carpentry as a trade is full of very old terms (as I'm sure milling is to), but many have lost their original meaning, so who knows. The key to jargon is really for everyone in a given setting to agree on what things mean. This works well regionally or within trades, but maybe not so well on the internet.

    I apologize, this is way longer than I meant it to be. Those are still some nice boards, slabs or not!

    Edit: Here's a picture of a pit saw for fun.
    M084779.jpg
     
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  15. rarefish383

    rarefish383 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    You hit the nail on the head. It's vernacular between trades.
     
  16. BigOakAdot

    BigOakAdot ArboristSite newb

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    So what's the proper term for a 2" thick piece of wood with live edges on both ends? That's not round and barked fully on one side.
     
  17. Sawyer Rob

    Sawyer Rob Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I'm just trying to figure out how it got bark "on the ends"?? lol

    SR
     
  18. Sourwould

    Sourwould ArboristSite Operative

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    I hate "proper." :D
     
  19. Beetlejuice

    Beetlejuice Addicted to ArboristSite

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    My furniture book says.... , not to work with material over 6% moisture content.. Wasting your time because the nice joints you worked so hard on start opening up.. The exotic wood place down the block said hardwoods dry at an inch a year.. That's kinda general term but something to go on.
     
  20. Cease232

    Cease232 ArboristSite Guru

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    Depends on where you live. Here in the PNW things tend to equalize at 10-12%. 6% kiln dried wood is too dry for my tastes. I’ve had to repair furniture for friends after moving here from drier climates.


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