Shelf Life of a Log...

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Forum topic by RobH posted 12-23-2008 02:00 AM 1058 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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465 posts in 4902 days

12-23-2008 02:00 AM

Hey all,

In support of my obsession to build some chairs and stools I have been doing some research and it seems than the better chairs are made from materials that a riven, not cut, from a log. I have also been looking for a supplier of such logs and have not had too much of a problem finding people to give me their trees.

My problem not is that I am not sure what the “shelf life” of a log might be. I am sure that I will be able to get more logs than I can use real quick. Does anyone here know how long I can expect a log to last so that I can get riven pieces for chairs and stools out of it? Also, is there any way to extend the shelf life of the log and make it last longer?

Thanks for the input.

-- -- Rob Hix, King George, VA

4 replies so far

View Karson's profile


35225 posts in 5253 days

#1 posted 12-23-2008 02:03 AM

Rob good luck. I’m sure that there are people here that can answer that. I’ve never done it so I can’t answer it.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 4590 days

#2 posted 12-23-2008 02:17 AM

Rob, Typically you would use a tool called a Froe. It is used to split the wood. The reason it is better to use riven split wood is because it will follow the natural run of the grain. This gives the wood much greater strength.
I believe it is better to split the wood while green so that it can be sealed and left to dry in smaller sizes. Logs will tend to split and check quite rapidly. You will have an asful lot of wasted material this way. The Froe is controlled by the user so as to guide the direction of the piece to be split. It is quite easy to do and has been done for many centuries.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View Al Killian's profile

Al Killian

273 posts in 4606 days

#3 posted 12-23-2008 11:11 PM

You can split the log in half and debark it. Then get it off the ground and out of direct sunlight. Seal the ends and you shopuld be able to get alot more time out of it.

-- Owner of custom millwork shop

View dirtclod's profile


169 posts in 4713 days

#4 posted 12-24-2008 12:27 AM

There are several issues about storing them. Each specie has different problems.

Insects can attack them. Debarking helps – as does the cleaniliness of the storage area.

Bacteria and mold present in the log can spread leading to staining if the wood is not dried fast enough. Blue stain in pine is the norm for logs that aren’t processed quickly in warm weather.

End checks can be reduced by using a sealer such as Anchorseal, beeswax or parrafin.

Then there’s heart checks which can split a log open end to end right down to the pith. Al’s suggestion will help to control it…so will sawing a cut to the pith on one side from end to end.

Old dry logs can be harder to split.

I know the practical side of this is you are given logs, don’t know what you’re going to use them for, and want to keep them until the need arises. But considering the problems with storage, I would do as John suggest and split them up within 6 months or so. If sealed, they’ll usually retain enough moisture to still have most of the characteristics of a green log. Most species of logs over 1’ diameter, if sealed, will lose little mosture over that period.

-- Wonderful new things are coming! - God

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