Presurfacing Green Sawn Oak

Planing roughsawn Oak before kiln-drying has benefits that may make it worth the cost. October 26, 2011

Does anyone green plane red oak prior to drying? If so, can you provide a contact?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
There are a few companies that do this planing. It is called presurfacing. Merillat Industries (kitchen cabinets) did it 100%. I worked with them often.

From contributor X:
Is there any worthwhile advantage to doing this? I can immediately see some disadvantages especially for a small operation where hand-handling the heavy planks would be labor intensive. What advantages are there that cause some companies to perceive the benefits outweigh the cons?

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Issues are disposal of wet waste and the need for 4/4 to be a bit heavy, as the final planed size is 1.03". It requires a two headed planer. Once planed, there is no opportunity to complain about grade. Advantages include about 12% less energy in drying, faster drying, increased kiln capacity, and 15 times less surface checking. Note that presurfacing only works for undried wood.

From contributor X:
I'm surprised at the degree that surface checks are minimized by it. I realize it's a general rule not intended to apply to figured wood (I assume) but I wonder if presurfacing would also minimize surface checks on a thick, highly figured crotch flitch? I think I'll try it next time I cut one. I'll leave one unplaned and plane the one next to it.

But aside from that, can you think of a species and/or application where you would presurface every time? Are some species so prone to surface checking that presurfacing would be worth it? Interlocking grain species such as sweetgum, etc.?

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
The concept is that a saw actually tears the fibers on the wood surface and these torn fibers become surface checks easily. By planing, the surface integrity is restored. Have you ever heard that circle sawn lumber checks more than band sawn? This is because a circle saw tooth does more tearing (often is not as sharp) than a band.

Sometimes wood is surfaced on one side only to achieve uniform thickness. This is called blanking. In the old days, lumber thickness varied more than today, so variation in thickness was more of an issue. It is hard to imagine that there are worthwhile (profitable) benefits for any species other than oak.