October 11, 2023 2 min read
Drying is a vital phase in the journey of transforming a log into usable lumber. The duration required for drying live edge lumber significantly varies based on factors like, thickness, wood species, and the specific drying process in use. Depending on these variables, the drying period can range from six months, extending to a year, or even two years in certain scenarios.
When discussing how long live edge lumber needs to be dried, one cannot ignore the initial milling process. The size and dimensions of the log dictate the milling approach. Larger logs are milled into thicker slabs. The reason being, over a longer expanse, a minor twist can magnify into a significant defect. Hence, thicker slabs ensure a quality product after drying and finishing. On the other hand, smaller logs, which are less prone to such issues over their shorter length, are usually cut thinner.
The species of the wood undeniably plays a pivotal role in the drying time frame. For instance, our three-inch thick stock, especially single slabs, usually sits for about a year before entering the kiln. However, this is subject to change based on species. Softer woods, even when milled thicker, can sometimes be placed in the vacuum kiln earlier. Yet, it's often preferred to let larger slabs age naturally for an extended period before kiln drying.
Certain wood species present more challenges in the drying phase. Oak, be it white or red, and walnut are notably slow to dry. These species demand meticulous care during drying, as rushing the process can lead to severe defects. Contrarily, softer woods like Pines, Cedars, Spruce, Poplar, and soft maple can be processed swiftly. They can almost immediately be placed in the kiln after cutting. Harder woods like Ash, Pecan, Cherry, Walnut, and White Oak require a significantly elongated drying cycle.
While discussing the nuances of how long live edge lumber needs to be dried, understanding the environmental factors becomes essential. Surprisingly, wood getting wet during drying isn't the primary concern. Instead, the harmful effects of sunlight and ultraviolet light pose a more significant threat. Exposure to UV rays can degrade the surface of the wood.
In regions experiencing hot, humid summers, like the Midwest, protecting wood from direct sunlight becomes crucial. Thus, for optimal drying, wood is stored under covered structures, ensuring ample airflow while shielding it from sunlight. Airflow helps in reducing the moisture content, while protection from sunlight preserves the wood's quality.
Drying live edge lumber is a nuanced procedure, influenced by a multitude of factors. The species of the wood, its size, thickness, and environmental conditions all play critical roles in determining the drying period. By understanding and respecting these variables, one can achieve perfectly dried live edge lumber, ready to be transformed into stunning pieces of art or functional furniture. The waiting time might vary, but the results are always worth the patience.