Got a few e-mail questions today - thought they may be of interest here.
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2008 19:59:07 -0800
Subject: saw mill questions?
I just read the forum "building a near free RV storage garage". I was absolutely blown away by this project. It turned out great! I figured you could best answer my question about milling logs. I live in Arkansas and we cut down several large southern pine trees clearing the way to build our cabin. I would love to cut several 1x6's from these pines to use in our cabin for ceiling, walls, etc. My question is, Is there a time frame to when these pine logs can be cut and used? I'm wondering about shrinkage after cutting. Does the cut lumber have to dry before using? My husband and I think its a waste of good pine not to mill them. We've never had logs milled before and don't really know if it would be worth it.
I really enjoy reading the forums at Country Plans and have already bought one of Johns plans.
Any information would be greatly appreciated.
The Southern pine is a great wood for building with. The cutting could be best done within the first 6 months or so -- They can be good for up to a couple of years but get a bit harder to cut and check- crack into the sides of the log and into the boards as they get older.
To keep them good a bit longer, it is best that they are kept out of contact with the soil. Use waste logs or rail road ties etc to get them off of the ground. Destruction beyond usability can occur in a year or maybe less.
Sometimes poor wood can be used in low strength applications such as siding or something else. If in contact with the soil, fungi send out tendrils into the soil and draw water into the log to help decompose it, causing a lot of the wood to decay and it may not be usable. Bugs love the wet wood and termites - grubs - beetles etc go to work. This is not all bad though. If the decay is not too bad then the beetle larvae leave neat trails under the bark in the cambium layer and especially if it is to be used as posts or whole logs - beams etc, it has a nice decorative effect to it. The bugs working help you to remove the bark easier - around 6 months or so.
Shrinkage at about the rate of 5/8 inch or so per foot of width does occur as the wood dries and varies with types and conditions. The water between the cells must dry out before the water in the cells will dry out causing the shrinkage so depending on conditions it can take around a year air drying. Use wet OK ?- yes...Simply allow for it in your design using plenty of lap or board and batten etc. If making shiplap, I go about 7/8" wide laps on wet wood, or if just edge lapping then I go around 1" or so - especially if wavy edges are used - do it at the narrowest point.
I'd say mill and use them -- you will enjoy having your own natural resources in your house.
I will post this to the forum under the garage topic also removing your address details, but please feel free to email or post - either way.
Hoping to see some of your topics on the forum also.