Bandsaw Milling Green Wood and Checking

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Forum topic by crb posted 11-17-2017 12:26 AM 1067 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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32 posts in 1187 days

11-17-2017 12:26 AM

Topic tags/keywords: bandsaw milling green wood log

Let me preface this by saying this is my first serious attempt at milling anything green.

A few days ago I was fortunate enough to be able to come by a couple large ash trees that were being felled due to ash bore infestation. I received about a dozen logs that I anchorsealed the day after harvesting and are sitting in my garage. I plan on milling all these into 1” slabs and putting them into my attic to dry.

Before doing the larger stock (and waiting on a new green wood blade) I milled a small limb about 6” diameter and 1’ long as a test. I cut it into 1” slabs last night (no anchorseal on this) and one of the slabs checked pretty bad. So bad in fact I could almost watch it split. I write down times and made marks (shown in pictures). My question is this: is there anything I can do on the larger logs to prevent this, or was I just unlucky with a small branch? I’d hate to mill up the 100+ lb 15” diameter log only to have a one foot section in the middle usable. The tree was still very green when cut and still produced some leaves this summer. The log section in question did undergo a temperature transition from about 40f to 68f going from the garage to the house this morning. Could that have accelerated the checking?

Bonus question: can I set the anchorsealed logs outside for a month to give me time to get to the milling or will rain/snow mess with their moisture content too much? Would they need to be under a tarp? Or should I just rope off a section of the garage for these?

-- Tighten it until it breaks, then back off a quarter turn!

6 replies so far

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


5446 posts in 2165 days

#1 posted 11-17-2017 03:13 AM

It could be that some of that was caused by the knot or branch you have near that end. Looks like the other end is okay so far? Smaller branches also have more juvenile wood which is more prone to checking. Between the branch and the small size, I think that accounts for most of it but sometimes it just happens.

Bonus: You can leave the logs outside, especially in cooler weather but you want to make sure that you don’t store them in a place where they get lots of hot sun on them. Very low humidity can also tend to dry them out so protect from cold dry wind as well. You may want to put them under a tarp as the moisture that naturally wicks from the soil into the air can sort of moderate swings in humidity under the tarp. Rain and snow will actually help prevent spitting. Lumber mills often run sprinklers on piles of logs that they cannot mill for a while to help preserve them until they get around to them. Of course you don’t want them dripping wet when you do get arounds to milling them so you may want to bring them in out of the weather a week or so before you are ready to start milling just so the outside is dry.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View sawdustdad's profile


379 posts in 1662 days

#2 posted 11-17-2017 04:02 AM

The sooner you saw them, the less the chance of checking. The longer you wait, regardless of how the ends are sealed or how the logs are stored, the more checking you’ll have to deal with. Some checking is to be expected regardless.

-- Murphy's Carpentry Corollary #3: Half of all boards cut to a specific length will be too short.

View dubois's profile


41 posts in 2608 days

#3 posted 11-17-2017 01:05 PM

The excessive splitting you experience sawing your branches is because this is reaction wood, simply put, wood with weird internal tensions inherent and when you sawed it the bonds containing this tension are broken and the wood broke up, no surprises. Not really suitable wood to be sawing up into planks at all. As for getting that wood seasoned you do it in the first instance once milled by stickering it out of doors protected from direct sun and rain where it gets exposed to a moderate wind from time to time. The water in the wood must escape from inside but then be carried off from the surface of the wood otherwise mould & microbes will begin to grow and most likely stain that wood, so don’t store your wood in the attic or indoors without some directed ventilation and why would you want to do that when you can just stack it properly outside for the first year? Then after that year feel free to bring the wood in for the next year or two. Still after all is said and done there are no guarantees you understand, good handeling of wood is a skill you will learn, or not.

View Wildwood's profile


2868 posts in 2912 days

#4 posted 11-17-2017 01:36 PM

Agree with a lot of what has been said already especially about reaction wood found in limbs. You might want to check out some information found in this free reference linked:

Might want to just glance at chapters 4,13, and 14 a little. Only thing coud add is once you slap and sticker your pile make sure it’s off the ground in addition to out of direct sunlisght, wind, rain, snow, and covered. You’ll see plenty of info in the Handbook. If going to store indoors garage or basement but not attic, would store off ground or concrete but weighted down. Just natural air circulation is enough to assist in losing moisture content.

Cold weather will slow down the drying process but people have been storing wood in & outside with success with natural air circulation. The drying process simply a water removal process accomplish by evaporation.

Good luck with it.

-- Bill

View crb's profile


32 posts in 1187 days

#5 posted 11-21-2017 01:06 PM

Thank you for all the replies, good information here. I examined my “test” limbs today after they sat for a week. They each had a check in the same spot as the example above, but not the same length. The other end of the boards had some minor checking but nothing to be concerned about. Since it was a limb I’ll chalk it up to wood stresses. I’ll start milling the larger logs (none from limbs) as soon as I wrap up my current project and I will try to post some pictures and results in this thread as the process continues. Luckily the wood only cost me some time hanging out with some great guys from a local tree service so if I mess anything up I’m not out much.

-- Tighten it until it breaks, then back off a quarter turn!

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


5446 posts in 2165 days

#6 posted 11-21-2017 01:30 PM

If you haven’t already, it would be worth the effort to make yourself a log mill sled for your band saw. It helps make consistent sizes and also nice straight boards. There are several good examples on LJ to use as inspiration.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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