Anyone cutting and drying their own stock blanks? How did they turn out?

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waarp8nt

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My blanks didn't turn out so well, I would like to know what your doing and what should be considered acceptable loss. My story below;

I had a decent size walnut fall a few years ago back deep in the woods. Roots came up with only some damage to the tree when it fell. I attempted to cut some blanks from the base of the fallen tree and ended up with what I felt were going to be a few good blanks. I also cut some lumber from farther up in the tree simply to keep it from going to waste. So, I put the blanks on a plastic pallet in the old cattle barn (open ends on the barn) and used strips of wood to keep the blanks separate and apart. A couple years later when I went to check on the lumber and the blanks...I basically had a pile of twisted and warped firewood, having lost at least 2/3 of the pile of wood to twisting, warping and some splitting. Its been a little over 3 years now and I have what I would call two usable blanks, yet one of those is separating at the gain.

I attempted to quarter saw the wood as best I could with the old Stihl chainsaw and stacked it right away. The wood was out of any direct moisture (rain) and sunlight, it should have been pretty safe in the middle of the barn (aprox size 42x64). However, the humidity can be pretty high here in central Illinois. With my losses greater than 66%, obviously something was done wrong. I would like to get this drying process down right as a very close friend recently purchased a saw mill and is willing to let me use it for rough cutting stock blanks. I simply hate to ruin another pile of lumber and blanks.

I did have a little better luck placing a cherry log into the barn (given to be by the friend with the mill) and debarking it right away. Yet, waiting to cut blanks out of it until after a couple years of drying as a log. Months later, after cutting into blanks that wood still looked good.

I would be willing to close of a stall in the barn and install a dehumidifier if that would help. Any suggestions? What are you fellows doing to dry your stock blanks?
 

Coot

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Several friends are woodworkers. Keep the boards out of direct sunshine (as in sun on one side & not the other). Stack with multiple spacers (every few feet) between boards to help avoid bending. Rule of thumb is a minimum of one year of air drying per inch of thickness. Seal the grain on the ends of the boards with wax or paint prior to setting aside to dry. I am sure that there are more tips.
 

waarp8nt

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Several friends are woodworkers. Keep the boards out of direct sunshine (as in sun on one side & not the other). Stack with multiple spacers (every few feet) between boards to help avoid bending. Rule of thumb is a minimum of one year of air drying per inch of thickness. Seal the grain on the ends of the boards with wax or paint prior to setting aside to dry. I am sure that there are more tips.
I did not seal the gain on the ends, I will certainly try that next time. Thanks, Coot
 

EZFEED

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You need to seal your blanks. I use spray rubberized undercoating for this and just coat the ends and up to 1/2" the surrounding edge with two good coats.
If its dry where you are try sticking them under your house or somewhere where the sun cant get to them and there is some coolness. Sometimes I'll submerge a trunk in my pond for a year before I dry it out and cut it and that seems to do best. Just my $0.02
 

poker

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Yes, seal the ends with some thick latex paint or wax. But to be effective, this needs to be done immediately after cutting the ends. If thats not possible, then make sure you cut your planks 8” or more extra length, as they will end check on thick 10/4 or 12/4 lumber. As said, keep out of sun and heavy winds when drying. Too fast of drying checks lumber badly. Aa far as warping, all you can do is weight your stack down real good to try hold it in place. Some trees will want to twist while others lay flat. It depends on what the tree grew like, or what part of the tree you are cutting. Limbs and crooked boles make for tension wood which warps easily and is best used as firewood. Good luck
 

Brokennock

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Plain old Elmer's white glue works fine for sealing the ends of the lumber. The thicker you leave it, the less warping you should get.
Search the web for quotes from "The Bowyer's Bible," on seasoning fresh cut staves.
 

rich pierce

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It’s a lot of work but it can help to rotate the stack. Bottom planks become top planks and every plank gets flipped over. Once after a week then once after a month then once a quarter. You’ll have no surprises then. Bad ones get tossed and it keeps the pile straight. Plain sawn wood will surely cup if not rotated.

Concrete blocks on top help keep some weight on the top planks.
 
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Artificer

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I inherited a large stack of air dryed DARK Walnut from my Grandfather, who cut it no sooner than the mid 1950's and some is older than that. The ends were sealed with a couple coats of good varnish many years ago and there is little to no checking in the ends. Unfortunately, most of the planks are not thick enough for ML Gunstocks, though a couple planks are.

One thing not already mentioned is it is better to cut the planks thicker than what you might think, when you air dry the wood. If you need a blank that has to be say 3 or 3 1/2 inches thick, it is better to add another half to three quarters of an inch to help the planks from warping/twisting.

Gus
 

QuinnTheEskimo

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There are also commercial products for sealing end grain, the one I’ve used is called Anchorseal. It’s some sort of wax disolved in something, when it’s dried there’s a thin wax layer left behind.
I don’t know if there’s anything you could dissolve wax in to make your own?
 

1950DAVE

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Check wood-database.com. You will find as much as most of us want to know about wood. Info on harvesting an drying is probably of interest to you.
Dave
 

nhmoose

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I sealed the cut ends using Acra-glass jell. It kept the apple wood and maple blanks from splitting and warping. I used to dry them in the attic of my garage that has lots of ventilation for 2 1/2 inch to 3 inch blanks it took 3-5 years to get them dry.
 

sawyer04

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I would be willing to close of a stall in the barn and install a dehumidifier if that would help. Any suggestions? What are you fellows doing to dry your stock blanks?

In my experience a dehumidifier is too fast and will cause problems. I have a solar kiln that sounds complicated, but it is just a small shed like a green house with a fan blowing a mild breeze over the lumber. The best blanks I have sawed was from logs that have set out in the weather for up to a year off the ground. I have one blank left that I sawed 20 years ago in the rafters of the barn, in fact I was looking at it yesterday thinking it has been around for a long time.
I have some old black walnut that has been cut for 5 years in a log form, thinking about sawing some fire place mantles and stock blanks from them.
If you want to research solar kilns on line I think you will be interested of how little it takes and require to cure lumber.
 

waarp8nt

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Gentlemen, thank you all for the sound advice!

I plan to move the wood to one of the sides of the barn to insure that late evening summer sun doesn't get to it. Seal each end of every blank and use some of the many concrete blocks located here on the old hobby farm to weigh down the stack of blanks.

The solar kiln sounds like an interesting and very doable project. I have a fair amount of construction materials on hand and such a project would require very little to be purchased. Interesting indeed.
 

Realwarrior

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I have a band saw Mill on the farm and cut some. Definitely seal the end and if you are going to air dry you can sticker the stack then sticker the top piece and place some cargo straps snug but not tight around the stack then keep a check on the stack. The straps will tighten but will prevent the warp. Be sure to have a heavy base that will prevent warpng towards the bottom
 

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