Drying Elm Wood

Advice on drying Elm wood. May 21, 2009

Question
We have a lot of Dutch elm that are dying in our area. I want to slab some of the large diameter trees and air dry them. The climate is dry here in MT. Will these be good for slabs or boards? How do I air dry?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor U:
Odds are you have American elm, and it's Dutch elm disease that killed them. To answer your question, itíll air dry just fine if a few precautions are taken. First and foremost seal the ends as soon as the log is down. I mean really seal them good using heavy latex paint or anchorseal (I use a heavy latex roofing emulsion). Second, get the boards stacked out of the weather as quick as you can. Last, stack the boards in the order they came off - put the log back together upside down. Stickers every 16", and some weight or straps to restrain the stack and you should be good.



From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
It is best that you cut the lumber as thin as it will be in finally use (or at least within 1/4" or so to allow for shrinkage and warp). Do not plan to resaw after drying. Elm likes to warp so check drying hardwood lumber for best stacking practices (sticker spacing, top weights, etc.).


From contributor G:
Elm has a strong desire to move when drying and somewhat tough to work with because of that. Is elm a desirable tree for RR ties?


From the original questioner:
Why can't one resaw it after it dries?


From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Elm trees have a lot of internal stress (growth stress) that is not removable in drying. Hence, when resawing, the lumber will "crawl all over."