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Aug 5, 2021 - 4:45:49 AM
58106 posts since 12/14/2005

Got these 2x4's, milled by ERMER in Plymouth WI.

Black walnut.
Originally from a tree in my friends Ralph's back yard.

Put plastic on the ground, put dark material over the plastic, stacked the wood with spacers, set a hygrometer in there to read the relative humility* of the air, stapled the plastic down.

Up against the north fence, for maximum sunlight.

How long must I wait, before trusting that the wood is ready to be worked?

How dry should the hygrometer read?

Eager to show Ralph a banjo made from his own tree.

 

* Relative humility on a scale from Francis of Assisi to Emperor Nero


Edited by - mike gregory on 08/30/2021 07:11:03

Aug 5, 2021 - 5:21:14 AM
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lapsteel

Canada

606 posts since 8/13/2015

I’m afraid it might spalt without fresh air. The old rule is one year per inch of thickness.

Aug 5, 2021 - 5:42:59 AM
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wizofos

USA

6118 posts since 8/19/2012

The only problem I see is that most solar kilns I have seen have ventilation to remove the moist air. Some use small computer muffin fans. Here are some links to someone who built a solar kiln and looks like the ones I have seen. Apparently the UW Madison Forestry school has some specialists in solar wood drying. You might contact them or your local county extension agent.

From what I have read if you don't evacuate the moist air your wood can rot and get moldy.

Good Luck

https://www.popularwoodworking.com/projects/solar-kiln/

https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/basics-of-solar-lumber-drying.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xd233KBDek

Aug 5, 2021 - 6:12:21 AM

1277 posts since 9/6/2019

quote:
Originally posted by wizofos

The only problem I see is that most solar kilns I have seen have ventilation to remove the moist air. Some use small computer muffin fans. Here are some links to someone who built a solar kiln and looks like the ones I have seen. Apparently the UW Madison Forestry school has some specialists in solar wood drying. You might contact them or your local county extension agent.

From what I have read if you don't evacuate the moist air your wood can rot and get moldy.

Good Luck

https://www.popularwoodworking.com/projects/solar-kiln/

https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/basics-of-solar-lumber-drying.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xd233KBDek


I was just going to write the same thing. From the looks of it, any humidity caused by the drying wood is held in the plastic. If it isn't vented you're going to end up with wet moldy walnut.

Aug 5, 2021 - 6:26:47 AM
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Helix

USA

14498 posts since 8/30/2006

Great thread. I suggest you paint the ends of the boards.

Wizofos, very helpful.

Aug 5, 2021 - 6:52:28 AM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5023 posts since 1/5/2005

Ditto on all. Spalt is pretty looking rot. Do paint, or dip in melted candle wax, the ends otherwise the wood is guaranteed to check/crack in minutes.

Aug 5, 2021 - 7:12:17 AM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5023 posts since 1/5/2005

oh, and not in direct sunshine else you can watch them curl

Edited by - Bart Veerman on 08/05/2021 07:14:03

Aug 5, 2021 - 7:48:41 AM
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beegee

USA

22464 posts since 7/6/2005

It needs to dry slowly in a stable environment, preferably in an enclosed space. Time depends on dimensions, the beginning moisture %, the relative humidity. The end grain should be sealed to preveny checking and splitting. The wood should be stickered to allow uniform drying and to help minimize warping and twisting. Time is relative.

Aug 5, 2021 - 7:53:06 AM
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1506 posts since 5/19/2018

If you keep it under that plastic, it’s going to rot without some level of ventilation.

I just had this conversation yesterday with a wood worker who sources his own wood in PA. 1 year for every inch of thickened for up to 3”. Over 3”, one year per inch plus 2 years.

That’s with the wood in a sheltered dry place. Outside? We didn’t discuss that specifically, but I k ow from being around wood workers my whole life, under plastic is not a good idea. Holds the moisture in.

Aug 5, 2021 - 8:33:31 AM

74 posts since 5/20/2020

in new mexico or arizona, you must dry quite a bit of wood to 18% or so, and then choose the pieces that didn't screw up, about half of the wood is unusable.

You can buy wood from here that is already dry

Albuquerque Exotic Woods
1570 Juan Tabo Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM

Aug 5, 2021 - 9:24:32 AM

483 posts since 5/29/2015
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Someone gave me Black Walnut that had been in a storage unit for 20+ years. Air dried. Almost an orange color. Guess I had never worked with air dried walnut. Google searches found suggestions from woodworkers to stain kiln dried walnut with orange stain.

Aug 5, 2021 - 10:01:12 AM
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3110 posts since 2/18/2009

What dries wood are air movement and low relative humidity, and higher temperatures help. By enclosing it in plastic the first two things are prevented. Getting it up away from the ground and covering the top of the pile but leaving the sides open is the conventional way to air dry lumber. It needs to be stickered, usually 3/4" or 1" square pieces of wood are used for this. Otherwise it will just get moldy in the center of the pile. The simplest way is to take 4 concrete blocks or other largish solid objects and place them on the ground in a rectangular pattern, then use 4x4 or bigger wood to span across them, and build your stack on top of that. This will allow airflow under the pile, and keeping it away from the ground will make it dry faster. How long it takes depends on a lot of factors. Painting the ends is a good idea, as others have said, otherwise the ends of the board dry out quickly as water is carried along the length of the grain, and the ends dry faster than the rest of the board, shrink faster, and then crack because they can't shrink any more and stay whole.

Aug 5, 2021 - 11:17:58 AM

145 posts since 12/4/2007

I did a huge amount of Indian rosewood in a year, but it was indoors on racks, slab cut at a saw mill at 3" thick, waxed the ends.

The wood is being used for electric guitars.

guitarrepairoftampabay.com/cra...aster.asp

Aug 5, 2021 - 12:26:20 PM

58106 posts since 12/14/2005

OH my SWEET SUFFERING SUFFRAGETTES!!

I don't wanna wait TWO YEARS  before I can show Ralph a banjo made from his tree.

Thanks for all the GOOD advice.

Even if it's the answer I  don't want to hear, at least it's accurate.

I shall proceed apace to treat the lumber properly.

How about I stack it INDOORS, with the ends sealed, in the guest room, with a little electric fan & heater, and the door shut??

Don't get many guests, anyway.

And yes, I could just buy some walnut (cheaper than all this,  even with shipping from Arizona) and LIE to Ralph, since his cancer might kill him before the damned stuff is dry enough to use, but  do I want to?

Could I rough it out to slightly larger than I need it, and bake it at low heat in my oven, and then plane and rasp it to proper shapes?

I could, of course, cobble something together out of unready wood,  SHOW it to him,  bring it home, and be done with the "Hey, it's from YOUR tree!" portion of the project, and let the rest just sitin storage for a few years.

Aug 5, 2021 - 12:37:21 PM

Bart Veerman

Canada

5023 posts since 1/5/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Buck the Banjo Player

you must dry quite a bit of wood to 18% or so, and then choose the pieces that didn't screw up, about half of the wood is unusable

 

If half of the pieces become unusable then that simply is the result of really bad bad bad drying/aging techniques/processes regardless of where in the world that took place.

Aug 5, 2021 - 12:38:30 PM

145 posts since 12/4/2007

There is there initial drying, and then the drying to the point of having workable wood. That involves a dehumidifier unless you are in a very arid region. Slow and steady wins the race. Rush the process and it cracks.

Aug 5, 2021 - 12:41:03 PM

145 posts since 12/4/2007

Here is the latest batch drying outdoors because of the size.


Aug 5, 2021 - 1:00:55 PM
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74 posts since 5/20/2020

In general, wood should be dried to a moisture content within two percent of its in-use MC. For furniture, cabinetry, millwork and other products used in homes or offices, the in-use MC is 6 to 8% (equivalent to 30 to 45% relative humidity, which is the typical range for interior climates in North America).

In New Mexico, there is a top notch mandolin maker named Jacob Hagerty, He will have one split regardless of what he does; that is simply how it is in New Mexico and Arizona.

Aug 5, 2021 - 2:06:25 PM
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13878 posts since 6/29/2005
Online Now

I would paint the ends, as has been suggested, using the cheapest left-over paint you have, and several coats is better if you can do it. then stack it with stickers and put a piece of sheet metal roofing over top rather than plastic, which will trap moisture.

plastic tarps are good in the winter when the wood is frozen and covered by snow, but metal is better in the summer because air can circulate underneath. Either way will become a snake habitat.

You can get cut-off pieces of sheet metal roofing from most local builders' supply, or just buy a 6 foot piece or whatever you need—it's not expensive.

I would dry it under the metal one inch per year

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 08/05/2021 14:07:51

Aug 5, 2021 - 2:23:47 PM

442 posts since 10/18/2020

In Arizona when my wife and I would go out to an area and cut Alligator juniper for firewood we also carried a Alaskan sawmill which is an attachment for a chainsaw to make slabs we would mill the alligator juniper into 2 1/2 inch thick slabs and make tables out of them and other things

@mike gregory what we would do is stack the slabs as level as we could make them and cover them with a shipping blanket and run a dehumidifier
in the garage we staked the wood in we also stacked 8x8x16 building blocs on top of them the full length, the building blocks assisted in keeping them from twisting and turning and warpage, we never used plastic to cover the wood because with plastic covering it will actually add moisture into the wood believe it or not, you also want a bit of space between each layer to provide a little air in between the pieces of slabs.

Aug 5, 2021 - 4:42:30 PM
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58106 posts since 12/14/2005

Y'all were right about trapping the moisture!

Got home this eve, could see visible condensation under the plastic.
And the hygrometer read 70%, even though the air in general was a mere 47%.

Have no time to paint the ends until Monday.

Aug 5, 2021 - 6:24:50 PM
Players Union Member

wizofos

USA

6118 posts since 8/19/2012

@mike gregory , Mike, why ship Black Walnut from Arizona when you can buy it milled and dry right here where it is native? If you need Black Walnut let me know and we can go down and talk to our local Sawyer and see what he has hidden in his secret cache on the back lot.
There used to be a great place for small lots of hardwood just north of Watertown but they are closed now.

Aug 5, 2021 - 6:39:03 PM

58106 posts since 12/14/2005

Everybody's being so nice and helpful, but one of the MAIN points is to show Ralph a banjo made from the tree in his yard, before the cancer kills him.

So I'm going to cobble up something that MAY warp all to hell and gone in a few weeks, but he'll SEE it while it's fresh and new.

I'll do the right thing with the rest of the wood, and LET it take a while, but at least my friend will have some small joy, for now.

Aug 5, 2021 - 7:35:22 PM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5023 posts since 1/5/2005

Ralph has a great friend in you Mike!

Aug 5, 2021 - 8:31:36 PM
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2331 posts since 2/7/2008

You're a good man, Mike.

I'd like to suggest that you take the wood to a lumber mill and ask them to put it in the kiln with their next batch. That should give you something that you can work soon.

It's been my (in)experience that force drying to reduce time ensures cracks. Air drying without cracks takes time and lots of it.

I've had moderate success drying small pieces in the microwave over the period of a week or so. If you're making a block rim, maybe you could cut the blocks close to the final shape, nuke them, cut to final shape and assemble. The neck is gonna be a problem though.

Aug 6, 2021 - 3:25:25 AM
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1277 posts since 9/6/2019

quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

OH my SWEET SUFFERING SUFFRAGETTES!!

I don't wanna wait TWO YEARS  before I can show Ralph a banjo made from his tree.

Thanks for all the GOOD advice.

Even if it's the answer I  don't want to hear, at least it's accurate.

I shall proceed apace to treat the lumber properly.

How about I stack it INDOORS, with the ends sealed, in the guest room, with a little electric fan & heater, and the door shut??

Don't get many guests, anyway.

And yes, I could just buy some walnut (cheaper than all this,  even with shipping from Arizona) and LIE to Ralph, since his cancer might kill him before the damned stuff is dry enough to use, but  do I want to?

Could I rough it out to slightly larger than I need it, and bake it at low heat in my oven, and then plane and rasp it to proper shapes?

I could, of course, cobble something together out of unready wood,  SHOW it to him,  bring it home, and be done with the "Hey, it's from YOUR tree!" portion of the project, and let the rest just sitin storage for a few years.


If you put it inside, especially in a spare room or a finished area, I highly suggest a dehumidifier or you will probably end up with moldy walls. I dried out some oak in my house and thankfully I thought ahead and hooked one up. It's a smaller one and I had to empty it twice a day for a while. I had about 40 8 ft boards cut at 1 1/4 inch. I also bought a small fan that I had blowing through the stack.

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