LumberJocks

Milling kiln dried lumber for furniture

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by groland posted 04-18-2020 09:00 PM 679 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View groland's profile

groland

230 posts in 4295 days


04-18-2020 09:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: milling kiln-dried lumber for furniture

I am fascinated by the methods folks use to prepare lumber.

Let me say at the outset that I am working on some end tables that will be made of walnut. I purchased kiln-dried walnut from a reliable supplier and put the rough-sawn wood in sticks in my shop for a couple of months to let it acclimate.

I have 8/4 rift-sawn walnut for the legs and 4/4 plain-sawn for the tops and sides. I have already glued up the tops and they came out well. I am now turning my attention to the legs. Today, I jointed and planed the legs on all four surfaces to be sure no surface was not milled. I further thickness-planed them to square cross-sections of the same dimensions, ca. 1 11/16 inches square. My intention is that they end up ca. 1 1/2 inches square.

I thought I’d put them in stick and let them dry for a while and then finish them for joinery and glue up. Would this be a good idea, or do you recommend I get them to final dimensions right away and build the tables?

If this is a decent approach, how long ought I let them be in stick to further acclimate? A week? A couple days? I have a climate-controlled workspace with a mini-split to maintain even temp in the shop.

I think tomorrow I will prep the lumber for the sides in a similar manner.

What do you think??

Thanks,

George


18 replies so far

View hcbph_1's profile

hcbph_1

68 posts in 197 days


#1 posted 04-18-2020 09:22 PM

Personally I usually put kiln dried wood in my shop for a couple of months before touching it. Then I meter it and when it’s down around 6%-8% before I work it. My shop is in the basement so your results may vary. I set my boards so they’re sitting vertically so no worries on not getting air around them.
Meter your wood and make your decision.

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

1714 posts in 1471 days


#2 posted 04-18-2020 09:33 PM

KD lumber should be in an over dry condition upon delivery. Being overdry means it has shrunk as much as it ever will.

Use it immediately. As it acclimatizes it will expand, tightening the joints.

If you’re going to let it sit for months why not just use air dried lumber and save the cost of KD?

If you let it acclimatize back to air dried levels it will shrink during the winter making your joints want to open.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

3414 posts in 2681 days


#3 posted 04-18-2020 09:56 PM

George your method of milling is pretty much how I do it. Riftsawn legs , and sneak up to the final dimension. Get the best boards picked out for the top. Glued up early.
A table not worth making if it doesn’t have a beautiful top.
Good luck

-- Aj

View hcbph_1's profile

hcbph_1

68 posts in 197 days


#4 posted 04-19-2020 12:48 PM



KD lumber should be in an over dry condition upon delivery. Being overdry means it has shrunk as much as it ever will.
Use it immediately. As it acclimatizes it will expand, tightening the joints.
If you re going to let it sit for months why not just use air dried lumber and save the cost of KD?
If you let it acclimatize back to air dried levels it will shrink during the winter making your joints want to open.
- Madmark2

There’s one problem with your logic IMO. If you happen to catch the wood right out of the kiln and it was properly dried then the MC should be good and the lumber ready to go. If the lumber wasn’t dried properly or there was an issue with the wood, you could have checks appear or warpage become apparent. Other than immediate checking, it’s hard to tell if a kiln operator is good or not with out some substantial checking or experience other issues with the wood down the road.
And what happens if the lumber has been sitting outside in someone’s yard under a tarp, or worse without a tarp or cover on it unlike what some people might claim. And whose to say it came out of the kiln 6 months or more ago, not 6 days ago as might be claimed, all the while collecting moisture?

IMO unless you need to use it immediately, better to let the lumber shit some time to let any tensions dissipate and the MC to stabilize. Better to find there might be an issue with the wood before you begin rather than after.
This is all based on my personal and professional woodworking experience that runs over 5 decades. I’ve had lumber check, crack, twist, cup, turn, case harden and other issues turn up at one time or another.

View tvrgeek's profile

tvrgeek

1054 posts in 2532 days


#5 posted 04-19-2020 01:08 PM

Unless you have a large enough storage area, we are kind of at the mercy of luck and a moisture meter. We have no idea what has happened to the lumber from the local hardwood supplier after it left the mill. I pick the best I can see and hope. I was surprised, the great looking 5/4×9 x 8 footer oak I just got that when I ripped it in half, it curved almost half an inch. As I jointed and planed, the pieces I am using remained stable.

I had a cherry table that I inherited. Solid wood. It remained in perfect shape for 50 some odd years, moved across the country, stood in storage, and one day, pow! Crack across one leaf. You never know. It is wood. I have some Chinese furniture roughly 150 years old. Not a crack and some are very large panels.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

5872 posts in 3234 days


#6 posted 04-19-2020 02:06 PM

I never have worried about all of the conditioning when using kiln dried, often times I begin using it the same day I bring it home. My lumber supplier has exactly the same climate as I do, the lumber is stored in a heated building just like my shop. I can’t see the point of waiting months to use the lumber as long as you incorporate allowance for wood movement into your design it should be okay. One caveat, I do live in a dry climate. Air dried lumber, that is a different story, I often by green lumber from a mill and allow it to dry for years in my unheated garage before I use it. Then I will acclimate it to being in a heated building before I begin to use it.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View controlfreak's profile

controlfreak

1296 posts in 485 days


#7 posted 04-19-2020 02:54 PM


better to let the lumber shit some time to let any tensions dissipate and the MC to stabilize.

- hcbph_1


I had to chuckle on this one. It made me think back to when my older brother scored three goals in a shutout in high school. The newspaper reported that he had three goals in the shitout.

View hcbph_1's profile

hcbph_1

68 posts in 197 days


#8 posted 04-20-2020 03:26 PM


better to let the lumber shit some time to let any tensions dissipate and the MC to stabilize.
- hcbph_1
I had to chuckle on this one. It made me think back to when my older brother scored three goals in a shutout in high school. The newspaper reported that he had three goals in the shitout.
- controlfreak

Done a lot of things with lumber over the years, but I’m the first to admit that’s one I’ve not done before ’-)
Sorry for the typo.

View shampeon's profile

shampeon

2167 posts in 3067 days


#9 posted 04-20-2020 04:00 PM

Yeah, your process sounds fine.

The thing you don’t want to do is mill to final dimensions then set it aside for months. That applies regardless of whether the stick went into a kiln or no.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View OleCuss's profile

OleCuss

25 posts in 260 days


#10 posted 04-20-2020 04:40 PM

I appreciate everything said above and won’t actually disagree with any of it.

But. . .

I’m probably not going to be able to take the leisurely approach to seasoning and/or acclimatizing wood and then taking an extended time period for the wood to release tensions and such. And please, don’t anyone show me videos of lumber relieving stress/tension as I just don’t want to know what wood does when I’m not around.

In an ideal world I’d have lots of room for lumber I’ve purchased for future use, lots of money to maintain unused inventory, and more and better tools – and more and better skills.

I just want others to know that we don’t have to stick to the ideal. If you must, take the lumber home and use it when you must. A lot of the time that works out fine.

The fact that it doesn’t always work out fine is a good argument for using plywood and edge banding and such. Plywood is pretty stable stuff and Baltic Birch can be awesome. Using engineered lumber decreases your risks.

But give me a real opportunity to get awesome lumber and then to store and then to slowly take it to the final dimensions? Yeah, I’ll be happy to do that because I really do consider that to be superior. Due to limitations that generally doesn’t happen at this point in time.

So for whatever it is worth to those of us who are beginning or who don’t have the resources to do it in the best way? Do your best with what you have and have fun! Now and again it will come back to bite you but if you knew you were taking a chance you get to laugh at what that dead (but somehow alive) wood has done to you.

We may purchase wood. We may work with it and cajole it. But the wood still owns us and sometimes lets us know that.

View groland's profile

groland

230 posts in 4295 days


#11 posted 04-20-2020 05:11 PM



Personally I usually put kiln dried wood in my shop for a couple of months before touching it. Then I meter it and when it s down around 6%-8% before I work it. My shop is in the basement so your results may vary. I set my boards so they re sitting vertically so no worries on not getting air around them.
Meter your wood and make your decision.

- hcbph_1


I am curious about two things. What is the moisture content of the wood before you put it in your basement?
What do you do if the moisture content of the wood never reaches 8%?

View groland's profile

groland

230 posts in 4295 days


#12 posted 04-20-2020 05:14 PM


KD lumber should be in an over dry condition upon delivery. Being overdry means it has shrunk as much as it ever will.
Use it immediately. As it acclimatizes it will expand, tightening the joints.
If you re going to let it sit for months why not just use air dried lumber and save the cost of KD?
If you let it acclimatize back to air dried levels it will shrink during the winter making your joints want to open.
- Madmark2

There s one problem with your logic IMO. If you happen to catch the wood right out of the kiln and it was properly dried then the MC should be good and the lumber ready to go. If the lumber wasn t dried properly or there was an issue with the wood, you could have checks appear or warpage become apparent. Other than immediate checking, it s hard to tell if a kiln operator is good or not with out some substantial checking or experience other issues with the wood down the road.
And what happens if the lumber has been sitting outside in someone s yard under a tarp, or worse without a tarp or cover on it unlike what some people might claim. And whose to say it came out of the kiln 6 months or more ago, not 6 days ago as might be claimed, all the while collecting moisture?

IMO unless you need to use it immediately, better to let the lumber shit some time to let any tensions dissipate and the MC to stabilize. Better to find there might be an issue with the wood before you begin rather than after.
This is all based on my personal and professional woodworking experience that runs over 5 decades. I ve had lumber check, crack, twist, cup, turn, case harden and other issues turn up at one time or another.

- hcbph_1

I wonder about this too. The supplied kiln dries the lumber then stacks it, unstickered in a covered shed. This lumber is brought into their showroom as needed, so the lumber I get may have been kiln dried yesterday or weeks ago. What then?

View groland's profile

groland

230 posts in 4295 days


#13 posted 04-20-2020 05:17 PM



Yeah, your process sounds fine.

The thing you don t want to do is mill to final dimensions then set it aside for months. That applies regardless of whether the stick went into a kiln or no.

- shampeon

Yeah, I found outr about that the hard way. I milled some lumber almost ready to glue up, then had to stop the project for a couple of years. When I came nack to it, every piece of lumber was no ;onger square. I will have to use it somewhere else!

View hcbph_1's profile

hcbph_1

68 posts in 197 days


#14 posted 04-20-2020 10:43 PM

OK, here’s my take on lumber based on having done woodworking since the early 60’s and having a furniture restoration/repair shop from 1989 till I retired last year. You don’t want to bill a customer for a job then have it split soon after delivery nor do you want your spouse to think less of your work because it failed soon after completion. If you have to repair the piece and refinish it as a result, that’s a lot of extra time and expense you likely don’t want to pay for.
I bought lumber through several places over the years, in recent years most was through 2 lumberyards plus someone that does urban lumber. Except when I was doing some steam bending, all was ‘kiln dried’ but you don’t necessarily know the competency of the person overseeing the drying. All 3 had open air under cover storage for their lumber. Thing was, there was a wide range of MC in the wood as acquired. I found that by putting the lumber in a mildly heated area (around 60 degrees) with a dehumidifier for a couple of months, the wood settled in around 8%-11% regardless of where I bought it. Stack it vertically and air could get to all sides of it. If there’s going to be problems with the wood, you’ll likely see it in the first 2-3 weeks.
I have a couple of 4 pin moisture gauges that I use on a fresh cut in the wood. Another thing is don’t plane wood on just 1 side, alternate sides so it will balance out.
If I did work and it failed, I ate the cost of it. It got very expensive to redo many pieces if something fails when you add in the cost of stripping and refinishing a piece a 2d time.
Right now I have some cherry I plan to use on a project stabilizing in the shop. I’ve had it about 2+ months and it’s sitting around 8% and that works for me.
That’s my background and why I recommend what I have on wood acquisitions.

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

3414 posts in 2681 days


#15 posted 04-21-2020 12:06 AM

I never knew so many woodworkers took moisture and acclamation so seriously. I guess because we never really talk about it until someone’s asking why did my farm table split after 3 months sitting in my house.
Then we pile on and most go away while we fight among ourselves.
I would like to point out the OP George mentions Walnut is the wood in question. My experience is walnut is very stable and forgiving species after it’s been Kiln dried. Any unruly boards will show themselves very quickly and are easily sorted for small pieces in the project.
I would even wager walnut is second only to Honduras Mahogany when it come to stability
Good Luck everyone

-- Aj

showing 1 through 15 of 18 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com