Drying wood

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Forum topic by ColoradoMade posted 05-27-2018 02:14 PM 647 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 810 days

05-27-2018 02:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question milling birch

Noob to the milling my own lumber scene, I recently cut down 3 birch trees in my backyard, one of them was completely dead and the other 2 were still living. I will be milling them into slabs within the next month. I’m new to this how long does it take for the wood to dry enough to build something? Do I even need to wait on the tree that was already dead? Also is birch a good wood to create projects with?

-- Saw dust? You mean man glitter!

8 replies so far

View splintergroup's profile


3866 posts in 2030 days

#1 posted 05-27-2018 02:31 PM

To be sure you need a moisture meter, but a “general rule of thumb” is 1 year for each inch of thickness.

I cut live and dead-standing apricot and olive here in NM and 1 year was plenty for 1” thick slabs. Birch is fairly soft but can have really nice grain for projects so plan on how you want to slab it (flat/rift/quarter sawn) for best look.

Read up on the large number of LS posts about stickering, sealing, and storage.

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2518 posts in 971 days

#2 posted 05-27-2018 03:39 PM

also depends on what part of the country you are in.
wood in Arizona will dry much faster than wood in Oregon.
you can make a lot of nice things with “Birch” lumber.
is there any indication of bugs in the dead trees ?? (that would be a concern).



-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View ColoradoMade's profile


7 posts in 810 days

#3 posted 05-27-2018 04:06 PM

Right now I live in North Dakota it’s a fairly dry climate so I would assume a year would probably be sufficient time to dry the wood. As far as the dead tree from what I could tell there is no indication of bugs in it, several old woodpecker nests but no bugs.

-- Saw dust? You mean man glitter!

View BattleRidge's profile


150 posts in 1024 days

#4 posted 05-27-2018 04:19 PM

An important step to limit cracking & splitting while the wood is drying is to coat the ends of the log sections as soon as possible after cutting. The coating will remain effective after milling as long as long the ends aren’t cut off. This helps seal the endgrain and limits the uneven drying that will cause problems if steps are not taken to mitigate it. One of the better products is Anchorseal Classic (though other options are available with varying degrees of success) and it won’t harm the blades of your saw when cutting.

-- ~Art~

View Andre's profile


3635 posts in 2614 days

#5 posted 05-27-2018 04:20 PM

Seal the ends ASAP! I use the end sealer from Lee Valley. Check every couple of months when rotating pile. I cut my birch 2” to 3” thick stickered and stacked outside for 1 year then brought some slabs into the shop for another year. Still had a bad crack on a thicker slab! Dead fall birch is usually rotted in my experience, couple of cuts will tell.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View msinc's profile


567 posts in 1312 days

#6 posted 05-27-2018 04:58 PM

All of the advice above is good…I will just add one thing. A standing dead tree generally needs just as much drying time as one that is cut down live. Wood seems to really not dry out much until it is milled. Even wood cut for firewood will lay there and rot before it drys out unless it is split. This could all be different in very dry climates. Where I live it is very humid and wood that is stickered and stacked and left outside to dry will only come down to about 17%.

View tomsteve's profile


1046 posts in 2027 days

#7 posted 05-28-2018 04:46 PM

as msinc mentioned, dead stanbing trees han still have a high MC. trees wick water up even when theyre dead.

View avsmusic1's profile


652 posts in 1493 days

#8 posted 05-29-2018 02:10 AM

An inch per year is the rule of thumb and I generally agree but if you’re slabbing real thick I’d give it some extra time- I think that rule works up till about ~2.5” thick.

I agree w/ others that end sealer is a great idea. If it’s been down a few days already it’s probably too late now but you can cut off 4-6” to reveal new end grain and coat that. If you don’t have the length to spare then just know you’re likely to get worse checking

What types of projects do you plan to build? Birch is fine but, for example, if wouldn’t be my first choice for outdoor projects. That said if you want to rough mill this for general farm type applications then drying is less important and you can just replace it as it rots.

Google boracare also- may be worth buying and spraying to keep bugs away.

Best advice I can give on stacking and stickering is spend the extra time making sure your base l/foundation is truly flat w/ no twist. An extra 60min spent now will save you so many headaches down the road. I prefer to sticker every 18” or so on 4/4 but go to 2’ at 8/4. Start the wood stack at least 10” off the ground, don’t go more than 4’ deep unless the location gets great wind, and add weight to the top

Good luck

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