Is storing cants feasible?

Can large cants be stored until an order for custom-cut lumber is received? February 19, 2002

Is it feasible to saw logs into large cants, say 12x12/14x18, and store them until someone orders certain dimensions and if so, can they be stored outdoors? Would a Norwood manual feed bandsaw mill be adequate for sawing only once or twice a month?

Forum Reponses
The chance of critters entering the cants is a potential problem. As well, the wood could spalt before you get an order for the lumber. I have the same problem much of the time. I take a chance, saw the log and hope for the best in selling the dimensions I cut.

Some questions to ask yourself:
1. What type of fungicide would I need to use in order to prevent mold, mildew or blue stain, depending on species, in the cants?
2. Am I willing to go 4mil. poly wrapping to prevent end checking and radial checking degradation?
3. Am I willing to handle all these cants again, possibly twice, rather than going ahead and risking the cuts being wrong?
4. Is the labor cost of such repeated handling of the cants worth the small risk of sawing lumber to the wrong dimension?
5. Will the storage of cants of species A end up impeding my ability to readily cut species B when I find that I have canted something my current customer can't use?

As far as the Norwood bandsaw mill part of the question: It would be more than adequate. I bought mine last spring. So far I just use it for my own use. As an engineer, I appreciate the way it is built. As an old man, I appreciate how easy and simple it is to operate.

It is easier to store most types of logs as logs than cants. Put Anchorseal on the ends and keep out of sun and weather, but allow air to flow around. Still, you just have so long that you can store them. I have a pond that I put hardwoods in for up to 6 months at a time and they keep real well. (Tie a good nylon rope on first.) I do cut red cedar into 6x6 cants and seal the ends with min checks but only keep for short time.

Woods bad to warp like sycamore and persimmon I cut into 2x6 & 3x8's and re-saw after some drying (not hickory - gets too hard).

I have worked with many mills that have tried to re-saw larger pieces into smaller (thinner lumber) after drying. This is a poor choice as there are drying stress problems, moisture gradients (the core is usually wetter), and the core is usually lower in grade. So, in most cases, you will be better off to saw into lumber and then hope to saw the correct sizes. The best is to know the markets ahead of time. Storing cants is not good; storing logs in cold weather is okay, but in warm weather can result in sapwood graying (enzymatic discoloration and not fungal if you end coat, etc.).

Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor

We store cedar cants for up to several years. Usually only a few special sizes such as 10 x 10 x 12 or 14. We keep these stickered and in a shed. They must be kept out of the sun. We keep 3 sided 6 inch and 7 inch cants for re-saw because we get some big orders for 6 inch by who knows what thickness. Gene is right on the other species.

Eastern red cedar starts out with a low moisture content in the heartwood and most of the sapwood is cut off when making the cant.

One reason we like the dry cants is that most of our cedar is used in applications where 12 percent moisture is not a problem for the final use.

By the time you handle the log, handle the cant, handle the cant again, and handle the lumber, I think I would have played monopoly until I got an order. If you have a problem with storage, do what I do. Pile high.

One supplier of ours stocked large Douglas fir cants until orders came in, but they had the piles stickered, so they were partially air dried by the time they were re-sawn to size. Seemed to work for them.

If you want to store cants, go to a paint store that sells "oops" paint cheap. Get some deck stain, which is actually a type of paint. It has a fungus inhibitor. Also, unlike regular paint, it breathes, so the cant will not be sealed as tightly as if you used regular paint.

Paint the whole cant except the ends with the deck stain. Seal the ends with Anchorseal. This will prevent bugs, fungus and drying out too fast. A professional duty airless sprayer would do the job nicely.