For all the effort that goes into felling trees, traspporting logs and sawing lumber you would think that people would be more aware of the importance of proper drying methods. Quite often a substantial portion of the lumber that was so carefully transported and sawed is ruined on the drying pile.
The rules that need to be followed for proper lumber drying are available from many sources (especially the internet!) . One aspect of proper drying that I want to emphasize is end grain coating. For years I have used old paint to coat the ends of my logs. This is a great way to use up that old paint (especially oil paint!). It might not be as effective as a ready made end coating, but it has another advantage. As a woodworker I am mostly sawing from my own use. Organizing the wood into nine different piles for nine different species of wood is just not practical. It is not often apparent if a rough cut board is elm, maple or oak without pulling it off the pile and taking a good look at it. What I have found very helpful is to use different color paints to mark each type of wood. In the picture below of the (dry) lumber rack you can easily pick out the white oak from the white paint that was used to end protect it. The cherry lumber is end coated with a dark green. The grey was maple (I think!).
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
A couple of summers ago I lent the Woodchuck mill to a friend. I made sure to put a new blade on for him. Since he is much more competant than I at most practical things I just gave him a couple of instructions and watched him start sawing a red pine log. After the first pass through the log he remarked "the carriage is pushing kinda hard". Upon further inspection I had put the blade on backward and he had cut all the way through the log WITH THE TEETH GOING THE WRONG WAY! The sawmill is still snowed in, but spring is approaching fast. For all of you who heard about the "Lake Effect" snow in NY this past winter you can appreciate our central New York winters. We did not get the 10 feet in ten days that communities near us got, but ours was still pretty deep!
One of the things that really impressed me about Quality Manufacturing Co was their Dominick Street facility in Rome NY. The building was 40,000 square feet with overhead cranes, warehouse space, many offices and drafting room. Much to my surprise when I visted the factory one day in August, the manufacturing bay was largely cleaned out. Quality was moving to the old Rome Turney Radiator Company buillding. The new building is 100,000 square feet with an overhead crane, three floors of office space and easy access to the highway in Rome. At this point, the move is complete. Operations are underway at the new location. Click here for the map: New Location
This past weekend my sons and I pulled thin Maple and Cherry boards from the lumber pile that we cut this spring. The thickness of the boards was between 1/4 and 1/2 inch. My concern was about how well it would air dry. We were pleasently surprised to find out that the boards had dried considerably in just a short time and most were warp and crack free. I could probably look this up but I would venture to guess that the drying time for 1/2 inch lumber is one fourth the time required for 1 inch lumber. (Its OK - I am a engineer I am allowed to make such off-the-cuff estimations!) That means that the air drying time for this thin lumber would be approximately 3 months outside and 3 months inside. I don't forsee having to resaw lumber on a bandsaw for many years!
One thing that has been going on is that the wood in my backyard has been drying. Last weekend I planed the first board from the wood I cut in Sept 2004. The maple turned out beautiful. It had been stickered for about a year in the back yard and for an additional 8 months or so above the ceiling of my garage. I learned a lesson when planing the board. If you read the earlier entries in this blog you will see how well the sawmill blade held up to the 6 nails that I cut in one of the logs. Considering the worth of the wood, my concern for dulling a blade was minimal. Well it came back and bit me when I planed the wood. The planner blades are more expensive, and harder to change (and set). Here is the lesson: bring some sort of marking pen when cutting wood so that you can circle any nails that you happen to hit. (Crayon works good!) Your planer will thank you.
The first logs that I sawed on the Woodchuck were given to me by a Christian camp where several of my children work. They were included in a large amount of firewood logs. All told, there would be a thousand or more board feet of Hard Maple in that load of "firewood". Lumber buyers had rejected several nice logs since they were under ten feet in length. They also might have been concerned about metal in the logs due to the close proximity to campers. For me, a 6 foot board is as good as a 10 foot board. As for hardware, hitting metal with a bandmill is not the big deal that it would be on a circle mill. This day I ended up hitting 6 nails (all in one log) but was able to continue cutting with the same blade for some time after that. My impressions of the Woodchuck? - I honestly liked everything about it. It tows easy, sets up easy, it cuts straight and true. It is also lower to the ground than the bigger mills and that makes loading logs much easier.