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Ash - Drying advice please

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keithy1959

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I have just aquired a quantity of Ash - approx 10cm x 125cm x 1m posts which has been felled and cut within the last 2 weeks. I plan to use this for odd projects once dry, and intend to cut this dowm to 35-50mm planks.

Should I do this whilst it is still wet, or should I leave it stickered as it is for a while - if I cut it now is it more likely to twist and warp ?

Any advice much appreciated.

I am also considering creating a small kiln using some insulated boards, an extraction fan and a couple of tube heaters - again, any advice or experience here much appreciated.

Thanks and Regards

Richard
 

Sgian Dubh

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keithy1959":2j6w6aw4 said:
... just aquired a quantity of Ash - approx 10cm x 125cm x 1m posts
10cm x 125cm x 1m !?? Are you sure? That's 100 mm X 1250 mm X 1000 mm.

Apart from the odd sizes, the convention in woodworking is:
Length (follows the grain direction) X Width X Thickness, in metres and/or millimetres.

Centimetres aren't used because we emulate engineering conventions.

I think we need to know (for sure) existing dimensions of your wood before any meaningful advise can be offered. Slainte.
 

lurker

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Richard,
"Proper" Engineers don't use cm for just this reason, it adds to confusion.
 

Sgian Dubh

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lurker":3di11dnm said:
Richard,
"Proper" Engineers don't use cm for just this reason, it adds to confusion.
Yep, a bloody useless measurement increment that is the Devil's spawn. They should be banned from all means of attempting to communicate a dimension from one person to another. All centimetres do is contribute to lack of clarity in my experience. Slainte.
 

Sgian Dubh

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keithy1959":8y5utjnf said:
Noted !!
100 mm X 125 mm X 1000 mm. (5"x 4" x Just over a yard) RK
As it's your intention to eventually make thinner boards (35 - 50 mm) I suggest ripping each piece now, either into two pieces ~60 mm thick or two pieces roughly 50 mm thick. You could do some pieces at one thickness and some at the other, or do the lot all at the same thickness. Both these thicknesses will be more than enough to yield anywhere between 35 - 50 mm final thickness.

Assuming, as you say, the wood is still green then the typical shrinkage allowance as the wood dries to something like either joinery or furniture grade moisture content is 10%, e.g., 60 mm thick green boards might lose up to roughly 6 mm of thickness - down to as little as perhaps 54 - 56 mm thick when dry.

Anyway, once boarded up then you should sticker up a pile of your boards in the accepted manner to dry. You can air dry it in an open sided but sheltered location, e.g., an open sided shed that encourages decent airflow, and here in the UK you can expect to get the wood down to perhaps 20% MC in such drying conditions, but frequently a bit wetter than this. That's still too wet for internal furniture, but dry enough for external artefacts such as picnic tables, garden gates and the like. However, ash is not generally a wood suitable for external use because it's not a durable species - it doesn't fare at all well exposed to the elements unless it's protected with a finish, e.g., yacht varnish, paint, etc all of which have to be maintained regularly. It's good for internal uses, but you'd need to acclimatise it for this purpose after air drying.

An acquaintance of mine that runs a timber yard reckons he can air dry 1" thick boards of ash to about 20%+ MC in six months or less. But when he dries wood he dries large piles of the material, and the weight of the upper boards helps reduce warp in those boards lower down in the pile. I'm guessing you have only a few pieces so you won't have a big pile to help maintain flatness, so you'd need to either weight down your pile with plenty of large heavy concrete blocks (for example) or invest in ratchet clamps to pull the stickered pile tight, and keep tightening the clamps as the drying wood shrinks.

Another guess on my part is that these pieces of 5" X 4" ash have the pith running pretty much up the centre of each suggesting they might be what's known in the timber conversion trade as boxed hearts. These are quite often cut out in the milling because they're unstable and liable significant distortion - they tend to go to relatively low level products. If that's the case, I'd be wary of following any advice I've given here.

Lastly, If this is all new to you your best bet might be, in the very near future, to undertake research into the milling and drying of timber, before committing yourself to anything - there's a lot of information out there if you know where to look for it. How important that research might be will depend upon how many fairly thick pieces of ash you're dealing with now, and perhaps what your future plans might be with regard to your involvement in sourcing, milling, and seasoning timber. Slainte.
 

keithy1959

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Thanks for such a detailed and instructive reply. There is very little heartwood, so I'll rip them down as you suggest. These posts came originally from 300mm wide slabs

As I have no outside space per se, but a very draughty old garage, they are going to go under a bench , but I am using a small fan to keep the air moving under there.

Thanks for the info about weights - would not have done that without this advice.

With regards taking advice , very diplomatically put !! You are quite right, but I paid less than firewood rates for it, so it was just for experience. If I can make anything from it in a couple of years, then great - if not, I've just stored some firewood for a very long time :)

Thanks again for such a detailed reply.

Richard
 

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