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Yews it or lose it

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Yojevol

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In late November I had a call from an old friend asking if I would be interested in some lumps of yew. Most of the timber from a large tree had been sawn up for firewood and these pieces would go the same way if nobody was interested. On inspection I said yes and on a later visit we got them loaded onto a trailer and removed them out of reach of his chainsaw. These are the pieces offloaded in my garden:-
Yew 004.jpg
That's a metre rule on them.

Last week I investigated local sawmills and the nearest one could do it more or less when I wished. The deal was £50/hour plus any sawblade resharpening if necessary.
The first problem was to get them back on the trailer single handed (don't ask!). With the help of a trolly jack, crowbar, trolley and winch I managed to get them back on board:-
Yew 1.jpg
When I arrived at the mill unloading was simple:-
Yew 01.jpg
First thing to do is get the saw running - not just the flick of a switch, but starting up this old tractor (note covered belt drive):-
Yew 10.jpg
The first cut is made with the log held and chocked. The flat surface thus produced will form the stable base for subsequent through-and-through cuts:-
Yew 8.jpg
Then the serious cutting can begin. Sorry about the spots - dust on lens:-
Yew 9.jpg
These are the 19 useful 1¾" planks that were produced:-
Yew 4.jpg
Yew 5.jpg
All now put into hibernation for at least a couple of years in my wood shed. Moisture content is 25%.
Yew 3.jpg
And this is the dross left over:-
Yew 2.jpg
I can probably get a few interesting bits out of those. The rest will keep me warm in the workshop for a few days next winter.
I was very pleased with the whole exercise. There is some good timber in there. Enough for quite a few coffee tables.
The milling cost was, I thought, very reasonable - 40 quid for the cutting plus - er - 60 for the 5" rusty nail which ruined the blade on the very last cut!!
Ah well, win some, lose some.
Brian
 

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Trevanion

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Make sure you coat the ends and knots and generally everything with Polyethylene Glycol. Yew is one of the worst timbers for micro shaking along its whole length even if the ends are coated with thick wax.
 

thetyreman

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25% MC seems high for 2 years of air drying, can't yew get it closer to 10%?
 

Yojevol

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thetyreman":38y7roz0 said:
25% MC seems high for 2 years of air drying, can't yew get it closer to 10%?
It's 25% now. I would hope to get it down to 13 or so after 2 years.
Brian
 

Phil Pascoe

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When I first read this I thought you'd be lucky not to hit ironmongery. :D Still, you've probably got a bit of nice colour around it.
 

Sgian Dubh

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thetyreman":38gbn9cn said:
25% MC seems high for 2 years of air drying, can't yew get it closer to 10%?
Not here in the UK. The lowest you'll ever get with this method is about 17% MC, and that's very rare. About 20% MC is as low as you'd normally expect in an outdoor poorly protected stack. Slainte.
 

woodbloke66

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Sgian Dubh":jqrc9kif said:
thetyreman":jqrc9kif said:
25% MC seems high for 2 years of air drying, can't yew get it closer to 10%?
Not here in the UK. The lowest you'll ever get with this method is about 17% MC, and that's very rare. About 20% MC is as low as you'd normally expect in an outdoor poorly protected stack. Slainte.
Once it's down to around 20% outside, it'll need further careful conditioning in a cool room (a bedroom is ideal if it's not centrally heated) to bring it down to about 10%. Lovely stuff, but there can be a lot of wastage on it - Rob
 

Yojevol

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Thanks for your comments on the seasoning process. This is the first time I have tried this process but I am fully aware of the pitfalls and limitations of air drying, especially with yew. I'll keep an eye on the MC over the period and bring some indoors for a few months prior to using it. I've made a couple of cabinets out of yew so I know how difficult and frustrating it can be.
Brian
 

Sgian Dubh

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woodbloke66":3vm5cuil said:
Once it's down to around 20% outside, it'll need further careful conditioning ... Rob
Or a short kiln run to bring it down to a furniture making target MC, e.g., 7% plus or minus 2% MC being the normal target in North America, or about 11 - 12% MC here in Europe. Joinery grade material is usually dried to just under 20% MC. Slainte.
 

MikeG.

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Sgian Dubh":4x14joww said:
woodbloke66":4x14joww said:
Once it's down to around 20% outside, it'll need further careful conditioning ... Rob
Or a short kiln run to bring it down to a furniture making target MC, e.g., 7% plus or minus 2% MC being the normal target in North America, or about 11 - 12% MC here in Europe. Joinery grade material is usually dried to just under 20% MC. Slainte.
For those without access to a kiln, I reckon that a sealed room and a dehumidifier could achieve much the same results, although I haven't tried it yet myself, and don't know of anyone who has.
 

woodbloke66

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MikeG.":1yvspqtv said:
For those without access to a kiln, I reckon that a sealed room and a dehumidifier could achieve much the same results, although I haven't tried it yet myself, and don't know of anyone who has.
I do and it works. When I was in NZ before Christmas, Rick Taylor dries all his ancient kauri blanks in a large sealed box or room with a dehumidifier - Rob
 
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