A Note About Your Lumber
How Much Lumber Am I Gonna Get?
The honest answer is: I
don't have an answer until I'm done cutting up that log. Lots of variables. Rot in the
log, sweep, foreign objects, shake, damage done when the tree was felled; I just don't
know. I can guess, but it's only an educated guess.
Lumber quantity is measured in
"board feet." One board foot is defined as 144 cubic inches. 1"x12"x1'
equals one board foot. So does 2"x6"x1'. Or 1"x4"x3'. Get the idea?
There are several scales in use
that offer a rough idea of how many board feet are in a given log, depending on the
diameter of the small end of the log inside the bark, and the length of the log. I use the
International scale 'cause that one comes closest to what you can expect to get from the
WoodMizer. However, these scales all assume straight, clean, healthy logs. Sweep, holes or
other damage will reduce the amount of lumber produced. The calculator to the right
will give you a very rough idea of how much lumber you can expect, considering the
limitations I mentioned from a log.
We can often gain more lumber than the international
scale suggests from your logs.
Your New Lumber
The lumber we produce will be
rough sawn and green. "Rough sawn" means it will have blade marks on the surface
of the wood. The WoodMizer leaves straight tooth marks across the boards; the Lucas leaves
curved tooth marks. "Green" means that the wood is still full of the moisture it
had in it when it was alive.
For most purposes it needs to be
dried. If your plans are to use it for cabinets, furniture, flooring, etc. you will want
to have it planed smooth as well, and possibly kiln dried. We do not provide these
services. Please see the section on "air drying lumber" to get you started in
Air Drying Your Lumber
Lumber milled from a fresh cut
log has a lot of water in it. Depending on the species, some wood has more weight in water
than it does in dry material weight! The water is removed by evaporation. Just like with
drying clothes there are two options for this; one is in a kiln (think "clothes
dryer" for clothes) and the other is air drying. (Like a clothesline.) One works
faster but requires more equipment and utility costs. The other is lo-tech and slower but
much more economical.
Air drying requires good air
circulation around the boards. To achieve this lumber is built into stacks in a way that
allows good air flow over and under both faces of each board. This carries the moisture
off. Each board in a layer must be the same thickness. Each layer of boards is supported
from the one below by spacers called stickers. The stack needs to be raised above the
ground, even, and well supported for it's entire length. Drying stacks of lumber are quite
Stickers need to be placed at
regular intervals and also at the ends of the boards; spacing should be from 16" to a
maximum of 24" apart. Stickers need to be placed directly one above the other in
order to transfer weight directly to the supports under the stack. If this is not done,
the boards will not dry flat.
The height of the stack is not
critical, other than for comfort and safety purposes. The width of the stack is much more
important. A stack too wide will not allow enough air flow through it and will not dry
properly. Similarly if the stack is placed against a wall, air will not be allowed to flow
unimpeded and the lumber will not dry properly.
The top of the stack should have
a row of stickers on it, followed by a rigid covering somewhat larger than the stack. That
keeps direct sunshine and rain off the stack. It should also be well weighted to help
prevent the upper boards from moving as they dry.
Drying times vary by thickness of the boards, wood
species, air flow, climate, time of year... lots of variables.
The above is a brief synopsis. Many volumes have been
written on the subject of air drying lumber. Below are a few. Not surprisingly, these
experts don't always agree 100% with each other.
The following publications include diagrams of what a
good drying stack looks like.
This is a 7chapter, 66 page document. While it deals more with the commercial aspects of
air drying wood, it has a lot of info for the rest of us too. I suppose you could call
this rather "dry" reading.
This article is written by Dr Eugene M. Wengert, one of the most respected American
authorities on wood. And he has that reputation for a very good reason! However, I take
exception to a couple of his statements. First a good, well tuned portable mill, properly
operated, will cut lumber just as good as a "commercial" mill and better in many
cases. Second, while roofing tar really is a good end-sealer, if you use it on logs you
want me to saw you'll either cut it off or get somebody else to saw 'em!!!
Okay; I'm over my little snit. Other than that, it's a good article.
Short and to the point. Also has an excellent diagram of what a proper drying stack should
A very good publication. Not real long, but well written. Also has a couple of good