Drying figured (?) maple

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Forum topic by RusticElements posted 05-08-2008 02:57 PM 1470 views 1 time favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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167 posts in 4232 days

05-08-2008 02:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question maple drying

Hey guys, I had a great stroke of luck here and managed to score a good chunk of a rather large maple tree. But I need some advise as to how to best dry it.

The neighbor had to cut down the tree because of ant damage. So, yes there is a lot of ant damage but the majority of this wood is great! When I got there the tree guys had already cut the majority of it down, bucked it up and loaded it on their truck. They had just fallen a ~9’ piece leaving about 2’ stump, which they cut separately. I got them to leave those parts intact.

So… out comes my 16” chain saw (to cut a ~20” tree) with the Beam Machine I purchased recently and 9 hours, 1 gallon of gas (that alone is enough to break a guy these days), 2 chainsaw files and 1 sharpening stone later, and here’s my haul. As you can see the wood is partly spaulted (sp?) and the grain is all over the place from multiple large branches in this section. This is my first time using the Beam Machine so some of the cuts are a little wonky but…:


This piece is ~5+” thick, ~10” wide and ~4.5’ long. I thought I could cut the thickness in half, straighten out the concave side, book match the two pieces and it would make a great coffee table.


These 2 main pieces are ~5+” thick, 9’ long and ~12+” wide. I’ll not likely get much in the way of long pieces out of these due to ant damage but still…


This is 1/4 of the 2’ base section. It had a large branch coming off the side which makes a beautiful grain. Unfortunately, that branch was already bucked and on the truck.


Here’s why I need you guys’ help FAST! This surface checking happened within hours of cutting the wood. How do you stop this?


I managed to dry some ~16” pieces of apple wood a couple years back by clamping it in a stack and leaving it on the top shelf of my shop for a few months. That seemed to work out OK, but this is different. This stuff is big and has weird grains to deal with.

My thought so far is to remove the bark to allow more even drying, stack it in a sunny spot in the yard (still have to clear this part with the Mrs.), clamp the stack with lumber and screws (to keep it straight) and cover it with a brown tarp to promote heat from the sun. There would be a small vent near the top to expel moisture.

I know there are several in this group that have done this before. Advice?...

-- Michael R. Harvey - Brewster, NY - - -

7 replies so far

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 4243 days

#1 posted 05-08-2008 04:32 PM

Hello Michael, Congrats on the wood. I have around 6 to 7,000 BF of air dried figured maple. It looks like have some nice wood. I recommend you strip off all of the bark. This will help prevent bugs. Then buy a few gallons of a product called nelsonite. Put on as much as the wood will absorb. Then coat the ends with a product called anchorseal. It is a liquid wax. If you intend to store the wood over dirt or gravel, you will need to put a heavy plastic under it. Then put the wood about 1’ off the ground and cover the top and sides with a tarp.

This will get you started. It is very important to seal the ends ASAP so as to prevent end checking. It will start within hours of freshly cut wood. Good Luck, John

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View RusticElements's profile


167 posts in 4232 days

#2 posted 05-08-2008 06:57 PM

Thanks for your speedy response John. I will follow most of your advice today.

Unfortunately, I use much of my wood for food related items so the use of nelsonite is out of the question. It contains high quantities of naptha which is a known carcinogenic among other things. I know it is considered non-toxic once dry but if you believe any man made chemical becomes totally stable at any point, I’ve got this great bridge I can sell you. I did find another similar product called Resolute but it still contains naptha.

I’ll have to get some of that anchorseal. But I don’t know where to get it today. I’ve used latex paint with limited success on small pieces in the past. Would this do? I thought I’d paint the knots as well to try to prevent what you see in the last picture.

-- Michael R. Harvey - Brewster, NY - - -

View dirtclod's profile


169 posts in 4367 days

#3 posted 05-08-2008 11:43 PM

“Bailey’s” make its own knock-off of anchorseal that’s a few bucks less. I,m going to try it as it was reccommended to me by people I trust. Use it to coat the ends, any endgrain (including knots), and the curly part of the crotches.

I don’t know about storing it outside. Got somewhere in an airy shed out of the sun? That’s a lot less risky. Yes on the plastic over any gravel or dirt and get it off the ground to allow air flow under it. Likewise, don’t droop the tarp to the ground. Allow air flow into the sides between layers and keep the tarp from touching the top of the stack or you’ll end up with some mold.

After it’s dry (about 5 years lol ) I would reccommend you take it to a bandsawmill for some resawing to clean and true it up.

-- Wonderful new things are coming! - God

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 4272 days

#4 posted 05-08-2008 11:48 PM

Hello Michael. I don’t know anything about this topic, but my best friend is a retired logger and he spends a lot of his spare time on
These guys know their trees and may be able to help you with some pointers. JJ

View RusticElements's profile


167 posts in 4232 days

#5 posted 05-09-2008 12:02 AM

Dirtclod: Yes, I have a shed that I could re-arrange but, “out of the sun”? Please elaborate. I was thinking of under a tarp (ventilated to prevent moisture build up) IN the sun to simulate a mild kiln dryer. You know, speed things up a bit. Is this a bad idea? Please advise.

Thanks for the tip on anchorseal. It’ll likely work better than the latex paint I’m using now and I would like to get more into cutting my own wood.

As far as the mill goes, I have a 14” (small, I know) band saw and I intentionally cut the wood to fit easily. I just have to set up a better in/out feed system for it. I have 2, 8’ conveyor wheel racks I’ve been saving for just such a setup. Besides, I’m Scottish. Why should I pay somebody to do something. The fact that they can do it better, faster and cheaper is irrelevant ;).

Junior: Thanks for the tip. I’ll check it out.

-- Michael R. Harvey - Brewster, NY - - -

View dirtclod's profile


169 posts in 4367 days

#6 posted 05-09-2008 12:25 AM

The risky part is arranging the tarp to keep the sun off of it while still allowing good air flow. And on top of this keeping it from getting torn off in a storm. Some cover the top with a piece of metal roofing and drape a mesh shade fabric down the sides. The fabric allows air flow but blocks the sun. I’ve been looking for a supplier of this fabric but haven’t found one.

You got pleanty of time to work out that infeed/outfeed before this is ready.

-- Wonderful new things are coming! - God

View coronet1967's profile


24 posts in 4457 days

#7 posted 05-09-2008 12:30 AM

you could make a small solar kiln, basically a clear plastic tent, just be sure to leave a hole for to allow moisture flow. that thickness of wood will take a long time to dry even in a conventional kiln, so be prepared to wait a while for it to be dry, i think i read somewhere one year per inch of thickness but i could be wrong

be sure to stack and sticker it so that air can get to all surfaces of the wood. you dont need to clamp the wood but you will need some weight on top of it (sandbags concrete blocks heavy stuff) to keep it from warping etc.

jay angel

-- "not all those who wander are lost" JRR tolken

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