Well the sun finally decided to show up and get to work today. I am not sure how long it plans on sticking around it has been a wet cloudy spring so far. I did manage in between showers to get the other kiln loaded. I am hoping that the weather will begin to clear and we will have some sunny warm days. The wood is at about 15% moisture so it is about as dry as it was going to get outside. If I let it sit all summer it might move down a degree or two. The kiln will dry it down to about 7% -9% or so and then it will regain a little when it is stacked and end up at about 11%. The wet cloudy weather did cause me some concern as the air drying stack started to show some blue stain/mold. I went out with my trusty wood hand plane that I bought on ebay and verified it is just at the surface. I have seen this before up in Minnesota when a was visiting a sawmill that cuts basswood. The pile they had did the same thing but it too was only a surface stain. The wood in the kiln will be ready in time for the Doane Experience in July so I will be busy making S4S basswood blocks in a few weeks for that
Sometimes I end up with logs that have sat for sometime. It may be because the were standing dead, or because they were down in the timber before I found them. The best logs to cut are fresh sawn logs, they cut the best and produce the best wood. In the case of lighter colored logs such as basswood, or maple the logs will stain if the sit too long in warm weather. In this case the walnut log has lost all of it's bark and has surfaced checked on the log surface. I have cut quite a few walnut, and butternut logs that looked terrible on the outside but produced beautiful lumber on the inside. This walnut should be a good example of that. I use a hand winch and some angle iron to load logs, I have some real fancy ramps a friend made for me. Those ramps are longer and I piled the logs a little to close to the saw to use them. The winch has loaded some big logs and works every time, low tech I know, but tried and true. The third picture is a white oak log that I cut years ago. It was probably the largest log I have ever cut without quartering it. This log was a beast but, the Norwood mill, is a well made mill, and it buzzed thru it just fine. It was not so easy to roll once the first slab was off and it was no longer round but, I managed.
I sometimes will get a few short logs from my logger. They are created during the log bucking process. The veneer logs that the logger cuts have to meet certain requirements and sometimes they are too long. The logger will cut them to the required length and they end up with a short section. These are often left in the woods but, I really like cutting them. They are easier to move around and often times are veneer quality logs except they are short. This one was a good example although it had a knot in it so it wasn't veneer grade it still produced 4 slabs 1 1/2 thick and 14" wide plus 8 - 1 1/2 thick 6" wide pieces. I used my trimming log dog that my friend made me. It uses a cam to hold the cant in place. The paint job was his idea so that I wouldn't accidentally run the blade into it. I won't pretend I haven't done that a time or two. It certainly does shorten blade life when it happens.....
Sometimes a log that I end up with isn't always a good one. It happens from time to time that I end up with a log that really is borderline. It is a hard decision whether to sped the time cutting the log in hopes of salvaging some lumber or just cutting it up for firewood. This log was in that category 16" diameter and 6' long. It was not straight and in fact had a large bow in the middle. The log also had what looked like ring shake on the large end. The rings of the log separate in the growth rings and that causes the boards to be low grade. In a perfect world that size log should yield about 50 bdft of lumber. In the real world sometimes things don't work as planned. I cut off the top hump and then rolled the log and cut off the horns on both ends. I then went ahead a squared the log into a four sided cant and the just cut it through and through to the deck. In the end it produced 27.5 bdft so it yielded half of what it should have. I guess at 27.5 bdft of lumber it really could have gone the other way just as easy, I guess that is my favorite part of milling logs you just never know until you open the log up.
I have a solar kiln that I use to dry the lumber that I cut. It is a solar kiln that uses the heat from the sun to heat the lumber stack and force the moisture out of the wood cells. I have used this method very successfully to dry all types of wood from ash to sycamore and everything in between. I have it currently loaded with 3 1/2" thick basswood cants. It is easy to run and very difficult to mess up the lumber drying process. I air dry my basswood first in stacks outside as it loses moisture very quickly in the early spring. The lumber is then put into the kiln and with the suns help it will finish drying to about 9% moisture content. This year mother nature has been a little stingy on sunny days but it is still drying with just the fans blowing air thru the stack. You can see the difference in the readings of the meter. Once the sun does show up it will finish fairly quickly.
I am finally getting around to cutting my load of walnut logs that I have been collecting. I decided to start with the worst and work my way up from there. This log was a short one that a friend that has a tree service gave me. It was standing dead for quite some time as the bark and sap wood are gone. I wasn't sure what the log would yield but I decided to give it a go. The log actually yielded some good wood I managed to get several clear boards 1 1/2" thick a couple 2" thick ones and a 3x3. I thought it would be neat to post a video of me cutting the log.
I needed to resaw some thicker basswood boards. My bandsaw only has a 13" resaw capability so I needed to figure out something else. I thought I would try another method, I built a sled that fit over two bunks of my sawmill. Then I added a end cleat to keep the board from sliding off the end. I also added a cleat on the side to keep the board from moving when the blade cut into it. The chunk of wood on the top is a 4" thick chunk of cherry I had laying around to keep it from moving. It worked pretty well for resawing these boards. I have used a similar method to cut short logs with good results. I was hoping to include a video but my phone battery died.
I air dry my basswood and butternut cants outside in early spring and summer. This process allows the wood to air dry to the EMC of the outside air which here is usually around 13% or so. Once it reaches that point it goes into the solar kiln to be finished. While the wood air dries it gets discolored and will sometimes get a little surface mold on it. On the left is an air dried piece of basswood out of the stack. It looks bad doesn't it. On the right is the same piece after I cleaned it up with a hand plane. Once you remove the top layer it looks much different then the piece on the left. The wood underneath is bright white and clear.
I feel like I hit the lottery, well not quite but exciting for me. I managed to get some butternut logs from my logger friend. It is getting harder to find every year but, I managed to score these. These are some real nice clear butternut cants, I may resaw a couple down to smaller stock as 8X8's are just to heavy for me to move anymore by myself. It will take a while for these to dry but I am thrilled to get them, I love the smell of green butternut. It is sad that the butternut canker is killing all the butternut trees. If you are interested in reading about it I have added a link. http://hort.uwex.edu/articles/butternut-canker/
We have launched a new web site. I am excited about the new look and feel of this website. I am hoping to increase exposure to our products and services. We provide sawmill services and also stock basswood and butternut at some of the best prices available. I am looking forward to the new blog feature and will post highlights of what we are currently up to.