Milling Reclaimed Heart Pine Lumber

      Advice on knives, cleanup, safety, and more, for an operation to mill resawn old pine timbers into mouldings. December 15, 2005

I soon will embark on a project which involves drying and then milling truckload quantities of reclaimed heart pine lumber. The lumber will come from beams, joists, etc. that have been resawed to 1". Other than the obvious concerns with metal whenever milling reclaimed lumber, what might I be on the lookout for during this operation? The finished product is flooring. Will the pine run through the moulder smoothly? I have had no problems with hardwoods. All the tooling is carbide.

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor F:
I would look out for termites, powder post beetles, and carpenter ants.

From contributor R:
Heart pine will add a nice aroma to you shop. When running the flooring through your moulder it will help the yield if you run the tongue on the left spindle and the groove on the right. That way if a ripped piece is smaller than the rest it will miss on the tongue which is hidden, not affecting your yield. Also if you run the barkside up this will help the yield and minimize tearout. Diesel fuel will help clean up your moulder to get the pine tar buildup dissolved. Chipbreakers and holdown elements need to be cleaned often to keep them moving freely.

I can’t think of anything else of hand. Speaking of hands splinters really hurt with this product so get them out quick. Heart pine runs well on good sharp knives. You could run this product with high speed steel if you desired to save money.

From contributor J:
I'm not sure what kind of moulder you’re running. If you have the choice of cutting angels, I would choose the 20 over the 12 for pine. If it is really pitchy, it might stick a little but it shouldn’t be a big problem. Keep a can of RAID handy!

From contributor S:
Regarding moulding heart pine into flooring, my advice would be to stay with the carbide, have plenty of bed lube on hand, and watch out for nails and screws. Another tip is to pull your steel feed wheels off the machine and spray them down with Bates Boothcoat. Reinstall the wheels, and have a third person use compressed air to blow accumulated shavings from the wheels in a fairly regular and constant fashion. The Boothcoat will keep the pine from sticking as much. I used to have a heck of a time running heart pine until I started doing this.

From Dave Rankin, forum technical advisor:
I agree with Contributor S about using a good bed lube. I do not suggest diesel in this application due to the risk of the diesel being left on the wood. I know that the last bottom head should remove the lubricant, but I also know that most operators have a practice of using too much of a good thing. A good bed lube will evaporate quickly and leave the lube on the table. A 20 degree hook is good and I suggest the use of carbide due to the expected contamination in the wood. Good sharp feed rollers are a must and be sure to keep your fences properly aligned.

From contributor R:
I would suggest buying a good metal detector. Money you will save from broken carbide will pay for itself in no time at all.

From contributor W:
I have a question for all on the topic of resawing reclaimed wood.

First: Contributor J - you mention first drying the reclaimed wood then sawing. Isn't this order backwards?

Second: If it's old reclaimed from beams, joists etc., how much drying needs to be done?

Third: I suspect not a lot of drying will need to be done if this lumber and beams are as old as I assume they are, so in resawing would it be good practice to cut tight to 1" to get good yield since not a lot of shrinkage is expected? Is this material going to be harder to saw straight since wood tends to get harder the drier it is?

From Dave Rankin, forum technical advisor:
A properly trained operator, I have trained thousands of them, with the correct supplies will make the owner of the company money. I would question the use of HSS knives unless you have a means to regrind your knives often. With reclaimed pine, HSS will give you a better finish but you most likely will be sharpening every few hundred feet.

As of this posting, there are hundreds of reclaim shops. If you are running short production of just a few hundred feet then I too suggest the use of HSS. Otherwise I stand behind the suggestion of carbide.

From contributor R:
Dave, I feel you misunderstood my post. I do not recommend the use of diesel fuel in the table lubricant pump. I have worked for a major manufacturing of moulders for nearly 8 years and would not recommend any lubricant other than what the manufacturer recommends (there own product). Diesel fuel and ammonia both work well for cleaning the machine after the product is run. Ammonia will surely keep you awake and alert too!

The ammonia is the final wipe down of the bedplates, pressure shoes, hold down elements, rollers, etc. This removes any deposits left by the diesel, therefore not affecting you woods finish.

From Dave Rankin, forum technical advisor:
Here are a couple of words of caution concerning the use of both diesel and ammonia. When using either, wear proper gloves. If you use ammonia then use proper respiratory equipment. Whenever you use any chemical spend a few minutes looking over the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet).

From contributor J:
I wanted to share something for cleaning up after pine. I spray everything down with WD-40. Then I let it sit for a while and that pitch wipes right off with a rag. The "WD" stands for "water displacement" so it repels rust too.

From contributor C:
I too run heart pine into flooring. I have found that automotive carburetor cleaner in the aerosol cans will cut the pitch very quickly. I spray it and use a brass bristle brush to clean my feed rollers, fence, bed, heads, etc.

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