Southeast Michigan Woodworkers

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 1:34 pm 
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On August 10th the Southeast Michigan Woodworkers Club meeting topic will be: Milling Your Own Lumber.

Jay Houghton will facilitate a presentation and discussion about the pros and cons of taking a windfall or urban log from standing to stacking. It's a great way to get custom dimensions, book matched boards, and save some money. But it's not without perils!

Join the discussion and bring your experience with you!

Meetings are held on the 2nd Thursday of the month at

Maker Works
3765 Plaza Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Starting at 7:00 pm and ending at 8:45 pm.

_________________
Current Board Members: Ed Haft, Steve Stram, Jay Houghton, Dave Zaret and Brant Fries


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 4:24 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 8:12 pm
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Location: Ypsilanti
Sorry I will miss it. But I just made plans to go paddling on the Sturgeon River that day.

Here's my offerings: Build a sturdy platform for stacking the boards to dry. I start with big 8-10-12' pallets, then make a sturdy leg-assembly under them. 8' racks can be supported by two leg-assemblies, but 10' and longer need three. Under each "foot", use a "shoe" of pressure-treated 2x10 or 2x12. Level them on a firm base of levelled sand or dirt before milling. Don't believe the books that tell you to make a base of concrete blocks for drying lumber. The blocks will sink into the earth at different rates, your base will not stay level, and you will be guaranteed to have a pile of warpy lumber. Using blocks will only work well if you are on pavement, not on soil.

Cut your stickers before milling, too. I usually use pine, 1/2" x 3/4" stickers. This 1/2" gap makes for slower drying, but that is usually OK for me. The stickers' thickness must be milled accurately. The width can vary. Do not use green wood for stickers. Do not use any-old junk wood for stickers. Irregular stickers make wavy lumber. Dirty, wet, or stained stickers lead to discoloration "sticker-stain" on your wood. Light colored wood like ash or maple is especially susceptible to this. But for big, heavy slabs that are going to take forever to dry, I make 1-1/2" square stickers. I make all the stickers from lumber that I get cheap from "culls" from big box stores. or from disassembling pallets.

Stack the lumber with stickers at about 1' intervals, and keep the stickers aligned vertically. Do an especially-good job of supporting the boards' ends with stickers. Put a bunch of weight on top of the pile, especillay the ends. Slabs from the side of the log, concrete blocks, cast-iron V-8 cylinder-heads are all good weights. The boards on the bottom of the pile are weighted by the boards on the top, but the boards on the top of the pile must be weighted or they will not dry flat. They will warp in every direction. Another technique is to wrap ratchet-straps around the whole pile (especially the ends), and tighten them up. This can eliminate the need for weights. Some people say that only the top 1' of the pile needs to be strapped, and that will keep it stable and the weight of the strapped-together top bunch will then weight-down the bottom of the pile. If your lumber is straight-sided and each layer is stacked tightly side-to-side without gaps, this can work, but I usually mill natural-edge, so I don't do this. The strapping would get the boards all jammed-up sideways.

Stack the lumber ASAP after milling. The same day, if possible. It will start to warp immediately. The longer it sits around tight-stacked or unsupported, the warpier it gets.

Cover the wood with HD tarps or sheet-metal. I usually use HD silver tarps. They last about 2-3 years. Lighter tarps like blue or camo or green on one side, brown on the other, are not worth the trouble. They last less than one year. The tarps have two enemies: sunlight, and getting poked-through with sharp objects underneath. So if you use tarps, be sure that no stickers or weights or sharp corners will poke holes in your tarps. Rain getting into your pile will lead to sticker-stain. Consider where the rain that drips off your (tarp or metal) covering will go. You don't want the rain that drips off from up above, to re-enter your pile down below.

Don't bother milling stuff that you can buy. Mill odd species, natural-edge, or very thick or wide stuff. When I started milling, I made too much 1" lumber. You can always plane or re-saw big stuff smaller. You cannot really make it bigger, nor restore the natural edge if you like that style.

Branch wood is OK to mill, even if it is curved, if it will lay flat in one plane. I have made curved chair-legs and table legs from curved branch-logs that I milled specifically for this purpose. But real irregular branches that curve in more than one direction are probably not worth milling.

Some sawmillers are in such a hurry that they make a wavy cut. The irregular "thick-and-thin" lumber product is well-known. Get them to do a good job for you.

Most bandmill blades cost $25. If it is a yard-tree, there is the risk of nails, but for a free log, I am usually willing to gamble the $25. You, the customer, will owe the sawyer this if there is a nail or other metal in your log. Backyard trees (think treehouse or clothes-line hook) and frontyard trees (think road-side signs) are the most at risk. The worst I ever saw was a Norway Maple from a church parking lot. It had dozens of nails. People had been nailing signs up on all sides of that tree for many years. (Fortunately, it was not my log.) For most of the nails, signs and clothes-line hooks, they will be at head- or shoulder-height and on one side only. Several nails, grouped at one-foot intervals indicate a kids' tree-house ladder.

The widest board, which includes the pith center, is likely to split up the center, from both tension in the log, and the weakness of the pith. I usually try to remember to tell the sawyer to rip the widest board(s) up the center. This does eliminate your widest stock, but my experience is that it is going to split anyway and then even more will be wasted. It is common in commercial lumber-making to avoid the pith-center entirely by "boxing the heart". The ripping-the-widest-boards that I do is my compromise to still get the most from each log with minimum waste. (Note that this applies to hardwoods, not to pine. The pith-center of pine is not weak like it is in hardwoods, at least, not as much.)

Do a good job stickering, stacking, and covering. Don't waste your lumber or reduce its quality after you already put a lot of effort into moving and milling the wood. The drying rule of one-year-per-inch-of-thickness is often criticized, but there is no better overall summary rule. Get a moisture meter, and use it. Wind blowing through the pile is good. My lumber gets dryer faster in a windy field outside Ypsi or A2, than it does in my woods up north. If I can get down to 11% by air-drying, I am happy. Finish drying indoors.

Silver Maple is very susceptible to powder-post beetles. If I have it, I have learned to spray Tim-Bor on both sides of every board before stacking. I have not usually had this problem with other woods. Pine is susceptible to blue-stain. Bigger stickers (bigger air-gaps) might allow it to dry faster, reducing this risk.

Have fun milling. We had a 2-day club milling event at DaveR's place around 2006, and there might be photos of it somewhere on the archives of the site or elsewhere.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 11:08 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:48 pm
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I watched 4 large trees (oaks most likely) milled on the side of the road on a rainy day about 10 years ago and immediately dead piled in a small barn and its still there. I drive by that barn periodically and always wonder about what shape the lumber is in after all these years of being dead piled.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:58 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:06 am
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Location: Trenton, Michigan
Bump.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:19 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:44 am
Posts: 30
Location: Rochester MI
Sound like it would have been a great meeting - sorry I missed it


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:42 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:44 am
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Hi
I'm new here, when & where is the next meeting?


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:50 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 22, 2011 4:43 pm
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Location: Saline
Chuck12345 wrote:
Hi
I'm new here, when & where is the next meeting?

We meet the second Thursday of the month at Maker Works in Ann Arbor 3765 Plaza Dr, 6:45 9:00pm.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:14 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 2:46 pm
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Location: Royal Oak, MI
Thanks for that, Ed!

We will be camping for the annual MI Firefighters Memorial in Sept., but look forward to finally meeting you all in Oct - The meeting is on our calendar!


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