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#3626 - 01/08/07 02:09 PM When is the best time to harvest timber?
Rudy R Christian Offline
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For years now I've been of the persuaion that harvesting timber (trees) in winter is advantageous to higher quality and more stable material. The common knowledge has always been that's when the "sap is down".

For Christmas I received a small handbook called "Musson's Improved Lumber and Log Pocket Book". It is a reprint originally published in 1905. In it there is a section titled "Proper Time for Cutting Timber" which states that if oak, hickory or chestnut timber is felled in August, in the second running of the sap, and barked, it will season perfectly, even a large tree. Whereas that cut in winter and remaining till next fall, will be completely sap-rotten, and unfit for any purpose almost.

I'm curious if anyone has heard this before, or if anyone knows a source of written material that contradicts it or supports winter harvest?

Looking forward to any replies.

Rudy R. Christian

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#3627 - 01/08/07 02:42 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Joel McCarty Offline
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Our brothers and sisters at the Gewerbe Akademie in Rottweil (GER) have as part of their curriculum a chart that I have been provelaged to view; it links time of harvest (season) and even phase of moon to the felling of particular species of timber, for a particular purpose.

This is not presented as some sort of new-age vodoo, but as solid traditonal practice.

It sounds like Rudy has found something similar for North America.

I wonder if earlier versions of the USDA Handbook would have something along these lines.

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#3628 - 01/08/07 03:10 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Gabel Offline

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Rudy,

I am curious what is meant by "season perfectly" and if a time frame is specified or implied.

Gabel
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#3629 - 01/08/07 03:13 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Joel McCarty Offline
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'privelaged'

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#3630 - 01/08/07 07:36 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Rudy R Christian Offline
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Gabel,

There's no explanation given but I would guess they are referring to "air drying". I may be wrong.

The pocket book does say it is based in J.M. Scribner's Log Book which was published in 1900. I've been trying to get my hands on a copy with no luck so far.

Rudy

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#3631 - 01/09/07 06:46 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
crabtreecreek Offline
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I am interested in a good answer to this question as well. What imes are best for hardwoods and what times are best for softwoods.

What role do daytime and night time temperatures play as well as moon phase and snow/rainfall. It has been exteremly wet and warm here in central VA this winter. The hickory trees have buddded and daffodils are trying to bloom.

Cut a red oak yesterday and it was so wet inside the water spurted out the end grain when I split it.

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#3632 - 01/09/07 08:00 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Bob Spoerl Offline
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I have emailed Harvard Forest for enlightenment on this subject. If you have never been it is a great repository of forest information.

One of the reason winter was considered best is the bugs would not attack until warmer weather. Storing the logs in water kept them at bay in warmer weather and it kept the wood wet which was easier sawing with the older blades (like here at the up and down mill). Modern bandsaw don't have the same issues and they can lubricate the blade if the wood is exceptionally dry. Wood cut in the winter will dry faster because the cold air holds less moisture thus the wood gives up more water to balance moisture content.

bob

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#3635 - 01/13/07 10:30 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Mark Davidson Offline
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there is no substitute for spending some time cutting trees throughout the year. I find in this area(ontario) that I can cut hardwoods if the leaves are full and green or no leaves at all(winter or summer).
softwoods are best in the winter, but I've cut lots of softwood in the summer, just have to deal with the sap. Probably the worst time to cut any tree is in the spring, fall is better but you have to watch because the sap is travelling down to the roots and things can get quite sticky in the fall as well.

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#3636 - 01/13/07 11:09 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Timber Goddess Offline
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privileged
:p

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#3637 - 01/17/07 05:51 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Rudy R Christian Offline
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I finally got my copy of the Lumber and Log Book by J.M. Scribner. It's an 1882 copy. It states "The most suitable time for felling timber is that in which vegetation is at rest." It goes on to say midsummer and midwinter are both suitable and that "Some experiments are in progress with a view to determine the question (summer vs. winter felling) with regard to oak timber for ordnance purposes". I would assume they were referring to cannon carriages.

Looks like I better dust off the time machine and try to find the results of those "experiments".

Rudy

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#3638 - 01/17/07 07:44 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
John Buday Offline
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Rudy

That last post makes me wonder if the archives of the British Admiralty might be a resource.
I would assume the information would be declassified.

If any of this leads to building a cannon carriage, I'm in

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#3639 - 01/17/07 10:58 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
pegs_1 Offline
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Uh-oh I bet Homeland Security just rolled out of the bat cave. LOL

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#3640 - 01/18/07 07:25 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Gabel Offline

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Rudy,
I also had a chance to pick up a copy of Scribner's lumber and Log book . Mine was printed in 1872. It says word for word what you quoted, including referring to the "experiments".

I also found this book online A Course of Instruction in Ordnance and Gunnery

This version was printed 1867. It is the 3rd edition. It has a section on felling timber (page 264) that says nearly word for word what the Scribner book says -- Clearly someone was plaigerizing.

Anyway, it refers to the experiments as well, calling them "recent experiments".

I bet we can find more about these experiments.

Gabel
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#3641 - 01/18/07 10:17 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Tom Cundiff Offline
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I have a 1923 edition of the Scribners Lumber and Log book, it has this to say. "The most suitable time for felling timber is that in which vegetation is at rest, which is the case in mid-winter and in mid-summer; recent opinions, derivrd from facts, incline to give prefference to the latter season, say the month of July: but the usual practice is to fell trees for timber between the first of December and middle of March. Some experiments are in progress with a view to determine the question with regard to oak timber for ordinary purposes." Same thing, no results from the experiments.

Tom
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#3642 - 01/19/07 06:39 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Dan F Offline
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"ordnance", "ordinary"...Am I the only one to notice this? Gentlemen, are you both certain of the text you're reading? If they are both as quoted I would be inclined to think there might have been an editing error in the first edition which was corrected on subsequent editions (or vice-versa). Either way..a great topic on which I am surprised there is not more scientific evidence. Cheers.

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#3643 - 01/19/07 07:23 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Gabel Offline

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Dan,

If you follow the link I posted you will see the text as it appears in the book titled "A Course of Instruction in Ordnance and Gunnery."

I also have a copy of the Scribner book from 1872. It contains the same text with regards to selecting and felling timber, with several references to "ordnance". Rudy is correct that this refers to the carriages that artillery was mounted to.

I find it curious that the same text occurs in both books without a reference to the other. My best guess is that the Scribner book plaigerized the "Ordnance" book-- that would explain the strange preoccupation of the Scribner book with timber for "ordnance" purposes.

The Scribner book is primarily a book of tables listing cubic volumes for different log diameters and lengths and board foot tables for different scantlings. It appears the entire 3 page section on selecting, felling, and seasoning timber has been lifted straight out of the ordnance book.

Here is another link to the ordnance book.

ordnance book
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#3644 - 01/19/07 07:28 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Tom Cundiff Offline
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"ordinary" Yes I noticed, I even got out the magnifying glass to double check the small print before I posted.
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#3645 - 01/19/07 07:56 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Tom Cundiff Offline
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I just checked, in 1923 they had changed the word "ordnance"to "ordinary" everywere it appeared in the text. Tom
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#3646 - 01/19/07 12:22 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Rudy R Christian Offline
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So I wonder if this change in text, ordinary for ordinance, is an intentional correction, or possibly a "dumbing down" of the content or more likely a lack of knowledge on the 1923 eidtor's part since some sixty years had passed and the seperation from consumer, practitioner and editors with any knowledge of the old ways was widening in the breech of industrialization?

I'll bet we can get Mullen on board if we go for the cannon carriage. We could get the plans from the one they did at the Masters of the Buildings Arts Festival in Charleston when Gabel was working with me and a slew of friends building the bus stop shelter. Maybe we should do two or three with timber harvested at different times of the year and see what difference it makes when we light 'em up?

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#3647 - 01/19/07 12:29 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Rudy R Christian Offline
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John,

Good idea. Got any inkling of how we would go about accessing that kind of information resource?

I also think Gabel's find is pretty enlighening and points up how small a world it was when these things were being published, at least from the perspective of published practical knowledge about harvesting and using timber.

Rudy

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#3648 - 01/19/07 12:57 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Tom Cundiff Offline
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Rudy said,
Quote:
Maybe we should do two or three with timber harvested at different times of the year and see what difference it makes when we light 'em up?
If we are going to stay on topic, I think we are obliged to. Tom laugh
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#3649 - 01/19/07 01:03 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Gabel Offline

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I'm in on the cannon carriage(s).

I found this in a list of navy records held at the National Archive. Perhaps these could the referred to experiments? If not, they would still be interesting to see.

"412. Reports of Experiments by Timber Inspector James Jarvis on the Preservation of Timber.
Jan. 15, 1850-Jan 24, 1855. 1 vol. 2 in."

"Arranged chronologically."

"These are narrative descriptions and tabular statements of the experiments conducted and their results. The experiments were conducted by Jarvis at the Gosport Navy Yard to determine the proper time at which timber should be cut, causes of dry rot, and measures to be taken to prevent the decay of naval vessels constructed of live-oak, white oak, yellow pine, and other types of timber.
Other Records"
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#3650 - 01/19/07 02:45 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Tom Cundiff Offline
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I found that page:
www.history.navy.mil/library
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#3651 - 01/20/07 12:00 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Don P Offline
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I'm new here and hope not to step on toes in my first post. I've read and tried to pay attention to the topic over the years, Joel's question about older copies of the wood handbook had me checking my '55 copy. Nothing there about a season for seasoning.

A couple of things I noticed in the thread though that I can help with. Wood dries fastest in warm weather, 90 degree air even at high humidity has more capacity than dry cold air. The molecules are more excited about moving to new and exciting places when they are warmer too. There is an average air drying rate chart at the Forest Products Labs website somewhere.
I would bet they would answer a Q from the guild with a good response.

A start in the winter can often get the surface dry enough during cold weather to avoid bluestain and bugs come warmer weather. The slower surface drying may help with checking.

Sap does not go down, it may stop flowing but it does not overwinter underground. A broken water column is an embolism to the tree it cannot be re-established, that tissue is dead.

Conifers grow year round, thats why they keep their needles. They do grow painfully slow when the conditions allow in winter. The moisture content of some hardwoods is higher in winter, no transpiration from leaves.

One possibility I see is the change in starch and sugar content through the seasons, although that would seem to just trade one bug for another.

The general wood industry line is that it makes no difference, and I tend to agree. If time of harvest does have an effect I think it would be minor compared to proper piling and protecting the wood.

It would be neat to read the old report though.

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#3652 - 01/20/07 06:17 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Newbiemy Offline
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http://www.british-trees.com/Oldsite/p10.htm
This is the link for John Evelyn's "Sylva", researched and written at the behest of the British Admiralty. At that time, it took close to 100 acres of 100 year old English Oak to make one ship-of-the-line.
If you spend the time to read it all, you'll note he refers to the ancients as though he talked to them last week!
As an arborist, I find some of the discussions fascinating, as we still argue points he presents!

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#3653 - 01/21/07 08:45 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
northern hewer Offline
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Hi all:

Again great thread and many good comments and points of view.

Over my many years trying to reproduce lumber for restorations and reproductions in these cases mostly white pine, trying to select logs of proper and equal quality was very hard to that that was available in the forests of the last century (1800's).

the trees were older with more heartwood then, and the tree stands now are of 3rd and 4th growth species, I suspect the genetics of the present trees are remarkably different now, the growth characteristics are also quite different now.

I do know for instance that logs floated in the pond for 1 or 2 years will cut exceedingly better quality lumber and will be harder and plane up nicer after air drying. We always floated good quality logs for a period before cutting, it also kept the beetles at bay.

In my day it was always considered better to harvest timber in the coldest part of the winter, and then saw and pile in the spring for one year for every inch of thickness to air dry. then re-pile inside for further drying and aging for another season. each year that you can keep the timber curing is better before use. It is hard to beat 5 or 6 year cured lumber out of an open shed or storage area.

NH

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#3654 - 01/22/07 03:00 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Ken Hume Offline
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Hi Guys,

Sorry to dispell some myths but I think that we need to start dealing in hard facts.

One of the outcomes of the various dendrochronolgy projects being run in various parts of the UK would appear to indicate that there is no definite trend in when timber is felled. Dendro is sufficiently sensitive to determine whether historically timber was felled in Spring, Summer, Winter with no mention of autumn / fall (harvest time). These dendro results are reported regularly in Vernacular Architecture and inspection of these reports would not identify any particular season as being dominant.

Care needs to be excercised in interpretting these dendro related results since quick grown timber does not tend to date very well and many early (medieval)buildings appear to be constructed from fast grown timber thus results obtained are only from slow grown timber sources.

One of the earlier posts on this thread explains that softwoods continue to grow in winter and I very much doubt this to be true. For the last 9 years I have been systematically measuring and recording the (girth) growth increment of Douglas fir in my own woodlot and I have found that by late September growth has all but ceased. Girth measurements taken during winter consistently demonstrate a slight shrinkage of girth which I have generally put down to tightening of the bark as the requirement for growth subsides.

I think that each woodlot will have its own "best season" for being able to access and haul out timber and this would need to be taken in conjunction with seasonal labour availability thus the various practices reported earlier in this thread may relate more to popular myth than be supported by hard evidence.

Ken Hume
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#3655 - 01/22/07 07:31 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Don P Offline
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Continues to grow might have been a stretch. Ekes out an existance, contiuing to photosynthesize whenever conditions allow, might have been better.

The introduction to this paper is a good read, it does a better job than I did.
http://www.mta.ca/~dcampbel/SelectedPublicationsCampbell&Group/PrePrints/Sveshnikov%20-%20page%20proofs.pdf

This paper goes on to show that conifers often survive embolism from freezing of their sap. Whoops! :rolleyes:
http://www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/content/full/131/2/780

The intro of this paper descrides some of the sugar/starch relationships I was wondering about.
http://www.springerlink.com/content/q155257331535071/

I'm still reading through Sylva and enjoying it, the description of turpentining is great. I had tried searches for that info without success before.

My FIL had mentioned the boatbuilders in Holland float logs for some time before using them. They were not simply ponding them, they considered this part of the process. I'd be interested in more info on that, sounds like you know more NH?

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#3656 - 01/22/07 08:25 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
northern hewer Offline
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Hello again eveyone:

It seems that we are all learning a bit from each post, Ken yours was very scientific and interesting, I sort of agree that growth slows to a real c-r-a-w-l when the weather is -30 in this part of the hemisphere. The trees get so cold that frost can split them, a rarity but it does happen.

My opinion is that if there is a best time for cropping logs for harvest it would be when as much of the moisture, sap or whatever is not present, and in my books that would be in the slowest growing season, to me it just makes common sense, and less moisture to get rid of in the drying process.

I do realize though that commercial lumber harvesting goes on throughout the whole year, and plays no favourite when it comes to seasons.

All the major mills would and did float their logs to the mills if that means of transportation was available, it was the cheapest, and it kept the logs from drying out too fast before sawing happened.

The waterpowered sawmills usually required and had a good 3 or 4 acre mill pond to accomodate logs, with the only problem being bark and debris floating into the raceways and jamming the turbines.

Hardwood logs though would sink and needed to be handled in adifferent manner than softwood like pine which would not sink.

We would just roll in the hardwood logs along the shorelines, and when the water level was down in the mill pond, and we needed say an oak log for a particular purpose we would attach a mooring line that we could use to retrieve it when needed.

It seems to me that water seems to be different than natural moisture, and does not seem to be as much of a problem to remove as the natural juices, and if anything imparts an improvement to the quality of the lumber. I have had some of the old sawyers say to me over the years that "if you want good quality lumber float your logs for a while before sawing"

Small country sawmills situated away from water sources and powered by diesel, or steam engines (originally) didn't have access to water sources on any great scale, and the logs simply were cut and brought to the mill, sawn and then trucked home and piled until curing or use was needed, which ever come first.

NH

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#3657 - 01/22/07 09:17 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Newbiemy Offline
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I know bowl-turners boil oak before working, to make it less likely to check. Also the largest kiln in this area steams oak to dry it! (Now that would be a physics lesson itself).

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#3658 - 01/23/07 07:47 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
northern hewer Offline
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When you look at this original question by Rudy "when is the best time to cut timber" I am sure that you will have many variations of answers, depending on the country, temperate zone, and many other factors.
I personally live in a farming area where the only time that was proper for logging was winter. the sleighs were brought out of storage, and they were drawn up and down the bare roads to shine up the metal steel runners, and then blocked up to wait for the first snow fall, boy what loads you could pull when the conditions were right. Also don't forget that logging was only part of the equation, fire wood was a by product of logging a necessary item then as well as a cash crop.

If you lived where there was never any snow then your response certainly would be different, and then you could go on.
I am sure that in England and Germany the seasons created different approaches to the question originally posted by Rudy, but each in its own a valid response.

NH

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#3659 - 01/24/07 12:52 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Roger Nair Offline
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Perhaps the agricultural season of spring to fall frees up labor in the winter and workers would head off to logging camps for a winter influx of scarce cash. I also recall Hermann Phleps touts the superior value of winter cut wood.

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#3660 - 01/24/07 07:13 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
northern hewer Offline
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The larger logging camps as I mentioned before floated their logs to the mills, and after milling the cut lumber was in many cases delivered to the docks and ship via wooden aquaducts, that incorporated water as its propelling system, no one seemed to care about the moisture content one little bit it seems.
NH

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#3661 - 01/27/07 12:12 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
John Buday Offline
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Rudy

Sorry to be remis in replying...a bit busy here
A bit of internet research brought me to the Royal Navy Libraries web-site Library-Royal Navy
They have an information service that responds to queries. They do caution that you could be awhile waiting for a response. I think I would be inclined to piggyback as much as I could.
Remembering the term "live oak" used in referance to construction of the frigate USS Constitution I did a search for that term and learned about the evergreen oaks of the SE states. Probably no news to many but new to a West coaster were the trees are tall, pointy and evergreen (mostly). This would tend to lend credence to the idea of regional diferances in practice.
I think that Ken has some very valuable input regarding regarding the historical record and for my part I like to see experimental evidence to back up tradition and custom before adopting.
Sometimes folk wisdom is just folklore.

If an experiment was conducted what would be measured? Strength, workabilty, stability, longevity? All the above?

And about that cannon carriage.
Would we have the part that goes BOOM!?

I am so there

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#3662 - 01/27/07 03:46 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Don P Offline
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I've forgotten how we got here from there or where we're going, but if there are hubs on hell, they are probably live oak. On Old Ironsides it returned the incoming cannon fire smile .

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#3664 - 01/27/07 10:40 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Don P Offline
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My understanding and observation with most softwoods is that within the range of about 6 to about 40 growth rings per inch most strength characteristics revolve around the percentage of latewood. The greater the proportion of hard, dark rings, the denser and stronger the wood. This is loosely what the grading rules are looking for when they seperate dense from common.

Can't say much on the pitch accumulation other than fatwood will outlast stone. Pitch is usually an injury response. Those cells can be some of the last to shut down, under the right conditions they can keep producing resin for months after the tree is felled. Not pitch bleeding, resin production, never say die.

The earlywood, lighter ring is put on in about a month's time, around here on EWP it does that burst around June. You can almost watch them plump and shoot up. The darker latewood ring is laid down over the rest of the growing season.

My science on this is weak, but what I think you are seeing in spring Derek is starch converting to sugar, which pulls bound water out of the walls into the lumens and causes flow. I don't mind being corrected there.

To keep edging out on that limb, that has to be part of how softwoods survive embolism. Somehow using that sugar pull to re-establish their water column. Usually the freeze induced embolism is what causes the range limit for species as you trek north. Finally getting far enough where the hardwoods can't survive, to where they laugh at the cold, keep their needles, and reboot themselves after being frozen solid. Now that's a tree.

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#3667 - 01/28/07 04:21 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Timber Goddess Offline
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?

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#3669 - 01/28/07 10:04 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Timber Goddess Offline
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I've seen them, but only from the air... unfortunately my super human powers do not include eagle eye vision, so could not tell the condition of the trees.

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#3671 - 01/29/07 11:28 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Don P Offline
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Posts: 217
Loc: VA
Look again from this viewpoint.
The board on the left has more than 40 rings per inch and a very low proportion of darker latewood. Usually this wood, although pleasing to the eye, is not very dense. I envision a tree fighting for light under a closed canopy and it just never got much ooomph going.

The righthand board has a large proportion of latewood. The latewood cells are thick walled, dense and strong. The ring count falls within normal growth range, this was a good tree, it would grade as dense. Look at the right of the board as the tree ages and had to fight harder for food and light. More rings is better is another myth. A good dense piece of wood is usually what you want. Weight generally equals wood, so strength.

Resin production is an injury response and knows no season. These are the epithelial cells (resin ducts, sometimes visible to the naked eye) being triggered by some trauma. In grading classes they teach you to find the cause of massed pitch when you see it. I've seen it accompany timber breaks, shake, borer damage and nothing. I've also heard that what we call fatwood or lighterd, a truly pitch filled tree found in the woods, is the result of lightning. I can't say on that.

Tracing the resin ducts is one way to see slope of grain.

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#3672 - 02/05/07 06:03 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Timbo Offline
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Posts: 71
Loc: NY
I'm surprised no ones qouted Hermann Phlepps "Craft of Log and timber Construction" on the subject of time for timber harvest. This book is the holy bible of timber and log joinery. In it he qoutes one old adage " If in Yuletide days your felling , ten fold the lifespan of the dwelling. By Fabian and Sebastian (Jan. 15)sap is on the rise again." I believe they where refering to conifers primaril.Another adage claims "When the larch is cold (and bare) timber feld is true and fair. These guys where definetly European cause they haven't seen the marginal larch we have here in upstate NY. Phlepps indicate that many if not all conifers have multipal sap runs, probaly triggered by warm spells. Or as suggested earlier it never stops just slows with temperture.(conifers only) Up here in NY the easiest time to remove wood from the forest is winter. I'm on Tug Hill though and we get deep snow, or we use to. Any one who atemps summer logging will quickly relise why the old timers did it in the winter, its hard work. A great video was produced by wnpe public tv in Watertown NY on winter logging on the Tug, it's wicked cool!
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Timothy W Longmore

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#3673 - 02/12/07 10:04 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Argofan Offline
Member

Registered: 08/14/06
Posts: 12
Loc: Gatineau, QC
Hello all, this has been an interesting thread since I will be cutting down a bunch of pines and hemlocks in a couple of weeks, for my first frame.

My question is this, I may begin cutting my frame this summer, but more than probable it will be next summer.

Should I stack the trees, seal the ends and get them cut into posts next year ?

Or should I get them cut into timbers this spring and let them season as timbers ?

Thanks

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#3674 - 02/12/07 05:24 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Thomas-in-Kentucky Offline
Member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 74
Loc: Kentucky
Argofan,

I would cut them into posts and let them season, if you have a way to keep the posts dry. Of course they won't be completely dry when you go to cut the joinery (far from it), but you will have some indication of which way they are going to bow, and on which sides the checks are going to appear. I am not a big believer in end seal for timbers. Makes sense for boards, but I could not tell a difference on my timbers. (I end sealed half of them and then decided it wasn't really helping - maybe I should have end sealed them as logs instead of waiting to seal them as they came off the saw mill).
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#3675 - 02/13/07 01:39 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Raphael D. Swift Offline
Member

Registered: 05/18/04
Posts: 286
Loc: Warren, CT.
Quote:
Originally posted by Thomas-in-Kentucky:
(I end sealed half of them and then decided it wasn't really helping - maybe I should have end sealed them as logs instead of waiting to seal them as they came off the saw mill).
You really have to get the sealer on almost as soon as the log is bucked in some species. My EWP sat as unsealed timbers for ~3 months (in summer) before the ends started crack. A 15" diameter Hickory log starts to open up in about 8hrs in dry winter weather.
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DBA: DreamScapes

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#3676 - 02/14/07 07:52 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Timbo Offline
Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 71
Loc: NY
I would remove strips of bark , about 3 on an average log , 4 on a real big log. Stack em up on cribs so there off the groud. Do not let vegetation grow up and around them. Put them out in the open on dry ground in the sun , but don't let the sun hit them. Lay some scrap wood on top and some roof tin. Weight the tin down good! Every 2-3 weeks roll the logs. The other suggestion where great and I agree with them , but I would cut the timbers just before I was ready to build. Plans change over time and you can't cut it bigger. One time a pily of logs I had for a cabin turned into 2k worth of siding for a friend. Cutting ahead of time is great if you got the place to season the timbers as prev. posted you can cull problem timbers but they will need to be replaced. Try to choose your logs carefully. A crooked or twisted log won't make a decent timber. Did you say your cutting hemlock? Great wood , but it can be funky, ring shake and all that. I've never used sealer for soft woods but I would like to know more about that. Pine borers are bad around here. Snows hit record 10 miles from here 11' in 7 days. Adios
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Timothy W Longmore

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#3677 - 02/15/07 12:08 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Argofan Offline
Member

Registered: 08/14/06
Posts: 12
Loc: Gatineau, QC
Hi Timbo (and others), thanks for the info. How does one remove 4 strips of bark from a tree? Do you mean something like a 4" strip on 4 quadrants ?

I'll be harvesting roughly 70 trees. 50 EWP and 20 hemlocks. Sizes range from 12" to 45" in diameter! Turning them every 3 weeks will be quite a challenge.

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#3678 - 02/15/07 09:44 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
mo Offline
Member

Registered: 11/04/06
Posts: 850
Loc: Charleston, SC
when it talks to you smile

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#3679 - 02/16/07 08:49 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Argofan Offline
Member

Registered: 08/14/06
Posts: 12
Loc: Gatineau, QC
OOPS!
Slight correction. I buggered up my tree diameter calculation. 91 inches in circumference divided by PI (not 2) gives a tree diameter of 29 inches.

I would want anybody thinking that I was crossing EWP with Douglas Fir !!!
shocked

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#3680 - 02/17/07 11:22 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Timbo Offline
Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 71
Loc: NY
The simplest an hardest way to remove bark is w/ a drawshave. This might be rough on the knucles on large logs. Another method is a chainsaw attachment called a log wizard. Works like a plainner. I use a felling axe but my logs are usually partialy peeled by a method i call "bullying" . When the log is skidded out I'll stop when the butt log lines up with the pile and buck it into the desired length. I'll then go get another hitch and as I aproch the pile I'll use the bucket of the tractor to scrape a strip of bark from the log previously left. I'll also be pushing the second log cut from the first tree mentioned , or I'll bump it out of my way. The tires will also remove bark just be carefull.After I get the logs home I'll remove some bark where needed. This also speeds up the removal of bark if desired. Rolling the logs isn't a big issue if the're up off the ground and protected from hot sun. Don,t cover with tarp , it will do more harm than good.
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#3681 - 02/17/07 12:15 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Thomas-in-Kentucky Offline
Member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 74
Loc: Kentucky
Just had a thought on Argofan's question. Someone please tell me if my logic is flawed here...

End seal or no end seal, whether you "leave it in the log" or cut it into posts, it seems to me that your timber is going to check along its entire length.

If you cut your posts and let them season as posts, you will have gained the 1" boards that result from cutting the log into a post. You can set these 1" boards aside and let them dry as well. (They call these boards "tie siding" around here, since they are viewed as a by-product of making cross ties.)

If you wait until the whole log checks before sawing, then when you go to cutting your "siding" boards from the log, they will tend to have splits down their entire length, would they not?

Does this sound right, or is there a theory that the whole logs will not check and a few years later you can cut pristine boards and timbers from them?
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#3682 - 02/17/07 02:59 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Don P Offline
Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 217
Loc: VA
Your theory is correct and more than that;
By sizing the timber down you are lowering the stresses that build as it dries. Less tangent grain in full strength pulling around the shell. The cells in a growth ring are trying to shrink twice as much around their circle as they are in their radial or heart to bark direction. By making the timber smaller you lower the stresses. You're also interrupting more of the tangential grain. Nothing wrong with going oversize and trimming later if you have the time. The timber stacks better for handling and drying. Usually the major check forms along rays on the shortest path from heart to bark. The check forms when the tension perdendicular to grain stresses exceed the strength of the wood.

There is no advantage to having a tree laying around. Leaving any bark on, even a board edge, here is like ringing the dinner bell. I keep a drawknife at the back of the mill.

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#3683 - 02/18/07 07:58 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Timbo Offline
Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 71
Loc: NY
Surface checks can run to center of log , but usually don't. lumber cut later won't usually have checks running lengthwise. If your plan is carved in stone and timber sizes and length not likely to change and you will fit within a year cutting the timbers is best. If not cut just before you use them , they chisle and drill and shrink to fit better.
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Timothy W Longmore

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#3684 - 02/18/07 09:23 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Don P Offline
Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 217
Loc: VA
This is a picture I took today. The tree was felled about Feb 1, was sawn within that week and has been outside since.


It has dried about 1/2" around the perimeter, to something below the fiber saturation point. The cell lumens, or cavities, have lost the free water that filled them, the cell walls still contain bound water.

The core of the timber is obviously saturated, moisture doesn't go down in winter. It is also frozen. I would bet the dry edge is also how deep the timber has thawed on any given day.

Also look at the left hand waney edges, I had not removed the bark. Notice how little drying has occured there. In warmer weather bluestain thrives at moisture contents above ~25%, getting the surface drier than that helps prevent it. Getting the bark off helps dry the faces below that point faster.

You can also see how a shell that is shrinking over a still saturated core is setting up checking stresses.

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#3685 - 02/19/07 11:00 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Argofan Offline
Member

Registered: 08/14/06
Posts: 12
Loc: Gatineau, QC
TIMBER !

I just couldn't help it, the crew is getting started on my lot today, I feel bad about cutting down such majestic trees, but I hope to give them a good home.

The concensus seems to be that curing timbers is the way to go. Going through the trouble of removing the bark seems to be just as much work (without proper tooling) as just going ahead and getting the timbers cut.

My timber schedule is not finalized yet so I think I will get the sawyer to cut the largest timbers possible from the trees. I'll then let them (and all the boards) season well protected from the sun and off the ground.

Thanks for everyone sharing their knowledge.

P.S.
Thomas, your home is coming along nicely, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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#3686 - 03/25/07 12:59 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
mo Offline
Member

Registered: 11/04/06
Posts: 850
Loc: Charleston, SC
I don't know, I guess these guy do.




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#11167 - 04/18/07 02:30 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber? [Re: mo]
mo Offline
Member

Registered: 11/04/06
Posts: 850
Loc: Charleston, SC
I was reading "The Ten Books of Architecture" by Vitruvius and I found some interesting stuff that made be post on this topic. Vitruvius was alive and well in the 1st century BC. No chemistry and molecular levels here. Pretty cool book in that it describes buildings before all of our modern technological "advances". He is describing hardwoods I believe.

First he states that "Timber should be felled between early Autumn and the time when Favonius begins to blow (you must keep a dictionary around when reading the works of pagans). For in spring all trees become pregnant, and they are employing their natural vigour in the production of leaves." He then goes on to compare a tree in the spring to a pregnant women. And how trees and women are not as strong (physically) when bearing offspring. laugh Crazy guy. All the same conclusions right?

Now what do you all think of this?

"In felling a tree we should cut into the trunk of it to the very heart, and then leave it standing so that the sap may drain out drop by drop throughout the whole of it. In this way the use-less liquid which is within will run out through the sapwood instead of having it die in a mass of decay, thus spoiling the quality of the timber. Then and not till then, the tree being drained dry and the sap no longer dripping, let it be felled and it will be in the highest state of usefulness".

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