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Thread: Drying fallen/cut logs

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    In the Gold ChakaZulu's Avatar
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    Drying fallen/cut logs

    OK, time for those with experience to share it. What about fallen wood/newly sawn logs? Specifically, how do you dry it, how long for and under what conditions? Bark on or off? How long can it lie on the forest floor before you pick it up?

    All you know about drying - let's have it.

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  3. #2
    It's an X Del the Cat's Avatar
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    Fallen timber:-
    If the bark is still on it and there's no fungus, slime or rot it's probably worth looking at, try bending any small branches or standing on it to see if it's sound. I've seen great looking logs which just snapped when I stood on 'em .
    Sawing it to length will let you see if the timber is sound...if you get 1 stave out of every 2 logs you saw you are doing ok...and they are free!
    Often only one side will have a potential stave so it will save work if you split it in situ rather than carrying the whole thing home.
    Splitting:- Chose where to split it to give the best possible stave, often a log will have some natural curve which must run towards the back or belly and can't run across the bow. Place an axe against the side of the log at one end where you want to start the split (don't just whack the axe in anywhere) hit the back of the axe with a club hammer repeatedly (and enthusiastically) until the split starts. Put a steel or wooden wedge into the opening split and whack that until the axe loosens. Move the axe along to the end of the split and use it as a wedge hitting it until the previous wedge comes out...and so on along the log until it pops in two (very satisfying )
    An old axe head makes a good wegde or you can cut one from some oak (they are surprisingly expensive to buy...so keep your eyes open at boot fairs, junk shops etc). Most logs split fairly easilly (even upto 12" dia) although Elm is pretty tough.
    To dry the timber I de-bark it (sometimes it almost falls off) paint the ends with old emulsion or PVA and leave it somewhere cool and well ventilated. If you want to use the timber fairly quickly you can rough it out whilst green but don't try to tiller it until it has dried. I have a radiator in a spare room which is virtually shut off so it never gets above 100 deg F I've dried timber on that successfully. TTBB describes making a hotbox ...(light bulb in a box) for drying. (Obviously I'd treat a decent Yew stave with more respect)
    I bought a moisture content meter at Christmas (Maplins 20) it's been very useful as it gave me confidence when doing the Birch bow (don't worry if it says zero moisture content, the wood will soon get back upto 10-15% if left in a garage or similar... I had 20% on the back under the bark and 0% on the belly at one point. It's just a guide, and as the stave is roughed out it dries/stabilises quicker.
    I worked on the bad half of the log for my Birch bow, it had considerable deflex, but as it dried this turned into reflex, which is fairly typical as timber dries.
    From that point it's busines as usual.
    Identification of the timber is tricky, some are pretty easy like Ash, Yew, silver Birch. It's quite exciting when the grain starts to reveal itself and the stave once dry becomes much more like decent timber and cuts nicely with the tools.
    Good timber hunting, and have fun....
    Del
    PS. There is still Elm about which has been killed off by Dutch Elm disease (easilly identified by the marks under the bark), it can be standing virtually devoid of bark looking like bleached bone, the heart wood may still be sound and it's a lovely dark colour (like you Mum's Ercol dining table! )

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    In the Gold Robin the Hood's Avatar
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    When we had a Raeburn we were fortunate to get hold of off-cuts. But if we did use logs they needed to be seasoned and some woods gave of bad smokey fumes because they needed drying further.
    Recently I was talking to my next door but 2 neighbour who I loaned my chainsaw to 18 months ago for him to cut some 60' conifers. This winter he had started to burn them, he said they needed 18 months to dry out. He has agreed to take the wood off approx 20 X 70' conifers I need to down myself this year.
    I suggest if its fallen wood then you may be safe to use, but if it is to be cut then I would recommend you stack it somewhere and cover it and hold back for next winter.... ... 'I miss that Raeburn'...

    Paul....
    ..Hello, Please and Thankyou..Never killed anyone.

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    It's an X Del the Cat's Avatar
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    Log size

    The logs I gathered over Christmas were:-
    Birch 3 1/2" and Maple 6" diameter.
    I've just looked at the remaining 'good' half of the Birch log, it is obviously drying nicely as the back set is now very noticeable (3 1/2 " over the 80" length).
    I might take a pic of the useless Yew log I collected a week ago to show how even a slimey old log has some good heart & sap wood (plus some rot).
    Yes, here we are, this is the worst end of the Yew and, ok, collecting it was always a triumph of optimism over reality (good exercise tho' ), but it does show the sap/heart wood a little sound wood and the rot which is the pitted areas, the main problem with the log was twist and knots, the other end was relatively sound. The real point of this is to show what the rot looks like.
    [IMG][/IMG]

    Del

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    In the Gold ChakaZulu's Avatar
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    OK, I've just brought home three fallen logs from the local woods. Not sure what the wood is but the bark just peeled off/disintegrated and the wood itself seems sound. Two bits are thin enough that I think they're single bow bits (and knotty at that). The third seems cleaner and is thicker, so I may get two (doubt it).

    I'll post piccies in due course, in the hope that not everything I post a photo of will go wrong


    EDIT:
    splitting worked well. Only problem is the 90 degree propellor twist in each stave...

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    In the White
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    propeller twist could be a conifer, i dont know what is native there. round here if its not (pacific) yew and it has tiny growth rings i leave it be. you can also see how easily it scores with the back tip of a locking knife to check for hardness. fir and pines can make a bow, i think TBB1 showed some of that but its a pain and i believe it was about 4 inches wide midlimb best of luck

    dustin
    dont make a bow with anything more expensive than your willing to throw away, or part out.

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