Drying Cedar

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Art Haberland
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Drying Cedar

Post by Art Haberland »

co-worker has several acres of property here in Southern NJ and has offered me all the cedar logs I can haul. In his words, I would be doing him a favour in getting rid of them.

I know of a local mill that can cut them into planks for drying, but I am trying to figure out how long I will be "Sitting on them" once they are sawn, laid flat, and "stickered" in my garage? I know the proper length of time depends on the moisture content and how dry my garage is, but I am just looking for a guesstimate
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PAR
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Re: Drying Cedar

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You got it, all depends on moisture content, but environmental condisions can play a role too. Without harming the slabs you can "push" it a bit with some tricks. The first is to sticker it up good and place a box fan to blow across them, forcing evaporation. Paint the end grain with latex paint (house paint, preferably high gloss), so the slabs don't dry too quickly and check. Rotate the stock every week, flipping them over as you do, so both sides, get to face up in the air flow. If you can afford it, get a storage box, shed or similar steel building and pull any insulation out of the roof. Sunshine will quickly raise the temperatures in these, which is also to your advantage. How much time? Well it depends on the slab thicknesses as cut, how freshly downed these puppies are, the humidity and temperature ranges in your location, how much air is getting across the slabs, etc., etc., etc. Cedar generally dries pretty quickly, but can check, for several reasons.
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Art Haberland
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Re: Drying Cedar

Post by Art Haberland »

so how does this work for winter? I am not going to be able to harvest this wood until late fall. At the moment my Garage is full of vintage saab (it's amazing how big they get when disassembled) and I am not in a mood to get covered in ticks with Lymes disease the way it is here.

My garage itself is an old chicken coop. Cement Floor, block walls, and a waterproof but uninsulated roof. I have the room to lay out close to a 30 foot long plank, at least once the saab is reassembled, but I will be limiting them to around 20 feet as the boat I am going to build is Gartside's #161 "Basher" which is only 16 feet in length and 7 in width
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PAR
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Re: Drying Cedar

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Wood dries best in winter months, in spite of low temperatures, simply because it's usually drier. You can also cover the stickered slabs or stock and place an oil filled heater inside. These are available from WalMart for $20 bucks and don't suck up much electricity. You can also employ a dehumidifier as well. The thickness and width of the slabs will be the real determining factor. Cut the bark and sapwood off, before stickering them up.
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Art Haberland
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Re: Drying Cedar

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good to know. Everything I read never mentioned painting the ends of the boards to keep them from splitting. This winter I dry some cedar for a boat building party all summer!
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PAR
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Re: Drying Cedar

Post by PAR »

What are the average thicknesses and widths of these slabs, as these two things will offer an idea, of how long natural seasoning might take.
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Art Haberland
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Re: Drying Cedar

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I don't know yet. The boat calls for 1 x 11/16 strips. so I will probably have the planks cut to a width that will take into consideration shrinkage as it they dry. I will leave that up to the Mill. It also depends on the trees I take. I will know in 6 months
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Re: Drying Cedar

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Harvesting in the fall or winter will also mean the sap will be down and therefore less moisture in the wood at the start. Not sure how this would affect wood being used for construction. But, for wood that is destined to be burned, having less sap in the wood means less creosote buildup in the chimney.
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