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Cedar Fencing - Cupping Issues

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Forum topic by Ynot posted 09-09-2021 04:23 PM 387 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Ynot

45 posts in 2828 days


09-09-2021 04:23 PM

Since the cost of lumber has skyrocketed I’ve been working with cedar fence pickets for my outdoor projects. It’s extremely hard to find pickets with low, workable moisture content especially at the big box stores. To stop warping I found laying on my shops floor for a couple weeks in the dry summer heat helps a lot. Stickering only produces warping, so I’ve found laying flat in a stack works best.

When it comes to cupping that’s a different issue altogether. Even after the picket drying for a month along with the moisture content being at the lowest on my meter it still slightly cups and gets worse after being crosscut and even worse depending on how short that piece is cut. Is it the summer heat? Is there a way to avoid the cupping and still be able to use cedar fencing in the summer? And no, taking my machines into the house isn’t an option, haha.

BTW, I found redwood pickets warp to the point of being just firewood, so that’s not an option. I do love the scent of cedar in my shop as well.


10 replies so far

View controlfreak's profile

controlfreak

2890 posts in 844 days


#1 posted 09-09-2021 04:51 PM

I would think that staking flat without stickers allows the exposed edges to shed moisture faster then where the boards are touching on the flats. You may want to try with stickers and add some weight to the top of the stickered stack to see what happens.

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Ynot

45 posts in 2828 days


#2 posted 09-09-2021 07:44 PM

How do I stop the cupping that occurs after I make a crosscut? This happens even after the wood is dry.

View controlfreak's profile

controlfreak

2890 posts in 844 days


#3 posted 09-09-2021 07:58 PM

Does it cup the moment you make the cut?

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

4069 posts in 3041 days


#4 posted 09-09-2021 08:36 PM

It’s not just the moisture content that’s a problem with cedar fence pickets. They are sawn from baby trees
I’ve decided the clear path to avoid high lumber prices is too harvest wood myself. It’s hard work and time but air dried lumber is very nice work with hand tools.
Good Luck

-- Aj

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Ynot

45 posts in 2828 days


#5 posted 09-09-2021 09:05 PM


Does it cup the moment you make the cut?

- controlfreak

Pretty much. If I then take it into the cool house it straightens back out. My moisture meter shows 6%, but that’s as low as it goes, so it’s likely less.


It’s not just the moisture content that’s a problem with cedar fence pickets. They are sawn from baby trees
I’ve decided the clear path to avoid high lumber prices is too harvest wood myself. It’s hard work and time but air dried lumber is very nice work with hand tools.
Good Luck

- Aj2

Agreed with the air dried and is about all I use for my turning. Wish I had room for a mill. Really time to move to a larger lot.

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

7619 posts in 2963 days


#6 posted 09-10-2021 12:16 AM

If it’s cupping right after you cut it, it was kiln dried and done so incorrectly. The immediate cupping is the relief of stress bullt up during the drying process which was probably done too quickly. Getting the wood wet again as you see it at the BORG will not repair the damage done by incorrect drying. I would be searching for a different supplier.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Ynot's profile

Ynot

45 posts in 2828 days


#7 posted 09-10-2021 12:33 AM



If it s cupping right after you cut it, it was kiln dried and done so incorrectly. The immediate cupping is the relief of stress bullt up during the drying process which was probably done too quickly. Getting the wood wet again as you see it at the BORG will not repair the damage done by incorrect drying. I would be searching for a different supplier.

- bigblockyeti

Hard to find anywhere else near me except the two big box retailers. They both have plenty of wet cedar and I mean wet. Wouldn’t this mean that they don’t dry it in any way? Would I be better off only buying the wet in fall or winter. and let it slowly air dry?

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

3797 posts in 4187 days


#8 posted 09-10-2021 02:10 AM

AJ brings up a good point – one of the problems is, much of the wood is second growth.

My buddy had five cedar mills at a given time. Most the shakes and shingles going out were old growth. However, rules allowed a percentage of second growth, garbage known to be problematic for the end purposes. Those are the shingles and shakes you see bending toward the sun, as they dry.

IF I had to deal with garbage wood, I would dry it with a mind to that what changes wood is, moisture gain and loss. AS the wood lost moisture, I would attempt to replace it, but I’d do it with non-hardening oils.

View tomsteve's profile

tomsteve

1182 posts in 2462 days


#9 posted 09-13-2021 05:31 PM


Hard to find anywhere else near me except the two big box retailers. They both have plenty of wet cedar and I mean wet. Wouldn t this mean that they don t dry it in any way? Would I be better off only buying the wet in fall or winter. and let it slowly air dry?

- Ynot

more than likely them pickets are all stacked unstickered then shoved into a kiln in bunks. exterior and ends of stack might have lower MC but get into the middle and the stack will have a higher MC.
its probably 5/8” tick pickets,too?

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

7959 posts in 2630 days


#10 posted 09-13-2021 07:25 PM

I’ve made a couple of projects with western red cedar pickets. Most were wet when I bought them, probably because they are usually shipped on open rail cars or trucks and got rained on in transit. Plus, I doubt that they were kiln dried in the first place since they are destined to be outside. The good news is that they dry pretty quickly after milling to size and thickness. The secret to success in my experience is being very selective when picking them out of the stack. Ignore any that already have any signs of warping but especially look carefully at the end grain and make sure that neither end has any of the center (AKA pith) or the first several years of growth rings (AKA juvenile wood). The flatter the rings, the more stable the board will be. It is also important that the ring pattern at both ends is similar. This helps to insure that grain doesn’t run diagonally so that it is consistent from end to end.

BTW, If you have a bandsaw, my favorite source of relatively cheap lumber (pre-pandemic anyway) are Douglas Fir 4x4s. I resaw them into 3 1×4s to get vertical grain. if I undersize them slightly, I can usually get a 1/2” board as well. Likewise, I carefully select the 4×4s for very straight boards with the smallest rings possible and no juvenile wood growth rings. It is not as weather resistant as cedar or redwood for outdoor projects but can yield some pretty nice looking boards.

-- 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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