Why You Should Saw Pine Fresh

period. April 27, 2007

I have 80 16' pine logs from 18" to 30" round. How long should I let them sit to dry out before cutting, or cut them now? Also have 18 16' oak logs with the same question, and also what thickness should I mill them for later use?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor B:
What type of pine are they?

From contributor G:
Saw them now. Time allows the growth of fungus and leads to rot. The brightest wood is obtained right off of the stump.

From contributor K:
I just milled a log truck load of large diameter dead pine trees. The checks (cracks) killed the usable volume. Many nice boards with an angled check right up the board. You will get the best value and best recovery if you mill them sooner rather than later.

Stain is another issue. Many users can use bright wood (unstained). Some users will settle for stained lumber but they want a discount. Yes, there is a small group that think "denim pine" is special. I have milled thousands of board feet and find the variability in blue pine massacres its utility. Some of the boards are astonishing and others are merely stained.

Go after the top value first. I do not know the relative value of pine versus oak in your area. I am learning that pine truly is a "low value" softwood. Pine has superb utility and I dearly love it. The market's willingness to pay a good price is spotty at best. Most of my customers want 1x12 pine for board and batten shed lumber. I mill at one inch by twelve to keep it simple. The customer buys the shrinkage. Unless you have a specific order for other sizes or thicknesses, 1x8 to 1x12 are the most marketable. I mill 1x4 battens from the narrower boards. I sell it for $750-$1000 per mbf.

I typically stack with stickers and dry it as mill run, then grade it out of the drying stack. The stickering provides essential air circulation that prevents fungal growth and subsequent stain. Many applications will tolerate immediate installation without the added stickering and handling work. Nail it up right off the mill. Don't get hung up on the insistence for kiln dry in utility applications. I think kilns are a luxury even though I operate one.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
The sooner you mill them, the better. Then treat the lumber properly... see "Drying Hardwood Lumber" or "Air Drying Lumber."

From contributor F:
When you fell the tree, roll it on the sawmill - makes the best lumber. Around here if they lay for just a short time, they start bluing (I guess blue mold).