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Forum topic by sarahss posted 03-09-2012 12:30 AM 1796 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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258 posts in 3157 days

03-09-2012 12:30 AM

Topic tags/keywords: logs cherry lumber solar kiln

I found someone with some cherry logs that he’s willing to mill to my needs and dry in his solar kiln. He says the logs have been cut about 1 year. I have a couple questions and hope someone can help me.

1. How long can a log lay before being milled into lumber?
2. Does that time negatively affect the wood cut from it?
3. Are there any drawbacks to solar kiln dried lumber? Does it tend to have areas of irregular drying that can be more prone to cause kickback the way air dried can sometimes have?

His price sounds good to me, so I hate to pass on this, but I want advice before I go to look at the lumber he already has ready. Needless to say, I plan to take my moisture meter to double check the 12% that he told me it’s dried to. Also, don’t want to get something and later regret it.

8 replies so far

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4593 days

#1 posted 03-09-2012 01:06 AM

Cherry is valuable wood, but I’d be wary of any hardwood laying around for a full year before being processed. That may be why the price seems so good to you. You don’t say what you intend to use the wood for. You can inspect what he has ready, but look for end checking which can reach deep into a log in that amount of time. Any cuts you’d make in such boards, even after solar kiln drying, would have to be left to ‘settle’ in your shop, to see what percentage of degrade you’d discover in terms of warpage, splitting and checking. I guess it depends on the price. And what you want to use it for. Wood stability matters more for furniture joinery than bowl turning. If it’s cheap enough, and you can afford to cut away any splitting deep in from the ends, I’d say Cherry is good!


View sarahss's profile


258 posts in 3157 days

#2 posted 03-09-2012 02:31 AM

I was hoping to use it to make a bathroom vanity. His price is $1.50/bf. Sounds like there may be lots of waste.

Barb—do you also have to wait for traditional (gas??) kiln dried wood to settle after a cut? Typically, I get it into the shop for a couple weeks, then use it. I do see that if I joint/plane a board and don’t get to use it that day, it has moved by the next day—not much, but noticeable. I keep a dehumidifier running to try to keep humidity at about 40% in the shop, but that’s tough in the South.

View bruc101's profile


1366 posts in 4050 days

#3 posted 03-09-2012 06:48 AM

This could be some good reading for you.

-- Bruce Free Plans

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 2984 days

#4 posted 03-09-2012 12:27 PM

There may be some issues with the sapwood, but the heartwood in cherry will be fine. The log will still be wet inside. It will surprise you as you might think that the log would have dried out. Not so. If there is any degrade in the sapwood, the sawyer can saw it out. Wood dries in a solar kiln very well. During the high humidity cycle at night where the humidity in the kiln gets high, the core and shell of the boards equalize relieving stress in the lumber. This is called conditioning and is a strength of solar kiln dried lumber. That is a very good price, too. I sell cherry for twice that.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View joey bealis's profile

joey bealis

177 posts in 3014 days

#5 posted 03-09-2012 12:36 PM

At that price I would buy all he has. Even if you can only use half the wood you get it would be worth it. According to how he has had the logs stored you may have a little spalting but in that amount of time it would just be in the sap wood any way.


View woodtickgreg's profile


212 posts in 3626 days

#6 posted 03-14-2012 11:59 PM

That log will be fine, as others have said it will be very wet inside still. Solar kilns work excellent, but as with any lumber it will need time to aclimate in your shop. I personally prefer air dried or solar kiln dried lumber, I think it’s not as brittle and splintery. Cherry is very prone to checking, the advantage to letting him drie it first is if it checks badly maybe you could negotiate an even better deal or pick the better boards.

-- wood tick tools for turners by woodtickgreg @

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2772 days

#7 posted 03-15-2012 03:36 PM

I cut logs into lumber (66” chainsaw mill) and even after these logs have been down a year, they are still soaking in the middle like the others have said. You lose a lot of water out of the ends if it hasn’t been sealed and you may want to check the bottom for rot if it was laying directly on the ground in a field or something. Also, check under the bark of the log to see if it is wet. If it is, that wood (outer 2”) may be waste as well.

Do a thorough inspection for bugs. They can get in anywhere and do some pretty massive damage in short order.

I agree with woodtick about the drying and checking and also about it being great that they’ll dry it BEFORE you buy. A lot of wood can go bad quickly when dried (it’s not always the dryer’s fault) Be sure you’re going to have a place to stack and sticker them once it’s all done. Even when they’re kiln-dried, when you put them up to acclimate, they may start moving, warping, checking, etc. So, be prepared.

$1.50/BF is pretty good. Most people charge from 10 to 50 cents a board foot just to cut your own stock. This is cut and dried plus materials. I’d say it’s worth it unless the wood is totally firewood quality. Try to be on site when the first cuts are made… you can inspect it and see if it’ll be worth your time and also because it pretty cool to see big logs cut up into lumber (at least I think it is).

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View sarahss's profile


258 posts in 3157 days

#8 posted 03-15-2012 04:30 PM

his lumber was badly checked and turned out to be firewood grade. he said it was dry, but he had not kiln dried it as I understood before making the drive to see it. his assumption was that since the log had been felled for a year, the lumber was dry. i had him chop off the end of a board, and it was 16% with my meter. too bad. his logs were laying directly on the ground and were splitting because the ends weren’t sealed. he’s planning on building a solar kiln, but I don’t think I want the stuff he has on hand right now. I found a place in MO (about 1 hour from Sikeston) where I can get KD cherry for $3/bf. I got some hickory from them (KD for $1.50/bf), and have been very pleased. they are a large operation and mill over 1 million bf per year, but are still willing to sell to individuals if you don’t expect to be able to pick individual boards. They are willing to sell in the low 100’s bf quantity if they have it on hand and know to expect you. they want to just drop it on your trailer with a fork. the only drawback is that they don’t always have things on hand—they are out of cherry right now, but will be milling more. also, their established customers come first—totally understandable because they buy it from them by the 18 wheeler load. I’ll be happy to pass on their contact info if anyone wants to pm me.

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