I have three American Beech trees that are 2'DBH that I want to harvest,  have milled, and then use to make furniture after drying.

My question concerns the drying period of the harvest phase.

  • I want to minimize cupping, warping, checking etc.
  • I'm also concerned about staining of the wood during the drying phase.

I had some red oak milled and dried a couple years back. Although never exposed to the elements during drying, the wood developed gray spots in the wood. One key fact I'm thinking could be a factor in this staining is that the tree was cut in summer when all the sap was in the tree.

I'm concerned about the beech wood staining. I would apply a clear finish to the furniture I would make, so ensuring a that no staining occurred during the drying phase is a must. If I cut the trees when the sap isn't up, will the staining danger be minimized? If that's the case, then I'll be cutting next week during the cold spell forecasted.

Thanks for the advice.

Jakob

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Hi, Jakob.

I have not done exactly what you are proposing, but you are wise to expect stain issues in beech.  I've seen a lot of it in the beech firewood we've processed over the years.   Beech is a handsome wood when finished, if stain is not present.

In sugar maple sawlogs, fungal stain is a problem and is an undesired defect - and an expensive one, at that, because most mills want clean, clear wood.  To minimize or avoid stain, the trick is to cut the logs when it is cold outside and get them to the mill and the dry kiln promptly.  In sugar maple, I've heard that as long as the average temperature is below 50F or so, fungal stain will not form, or will form very, very slowly.  Above that temp, speed to the mill is key.  It takes a certain number of days above the minimum temp for stain to occur.  I suspect that under increasing temps above the minimum, fungal growth will be faster and the formation of stain will take fewer days. I don't think any type of end-coating of the *logs* will prevent stain formation in warm temps.  The fungus gets into the wood anyway and staining happens.

If you're planning to air dry the lumber, you'd need guidance from somebody who's done it.  In the absence of advice, I'd conduct an experiment.  I'd fell one tree, get it sawn pronto, apply a bleach/water mix to all outside surfaces of the lumber, then get it stacked with stickers and covered in a location with good air flow.  That gets the outside of the lumber drying soon after felling.  I'm not sure about staining of the interior wood, however, in an air-drying system.  Seems like there would be a way to be successful.  Again, some advice based on experience would be very helpful to you.

Let us all know how it goes!

Tim

Tim,
Thanks for the advice. I'm hoping to have time to get a tree cut next week. From your advice about cutting in cold weather,my window of opportunity is closing quickly. I will definitely come back with results when the project is complete.

Again, thanks for the advice.
Jakob

Hi, Jakob.

I forgot to mention that you should check with your sawyer first.  He/she may not like to saw frozen logs, depending on their mill.  Also, some species may be okay when frozen, others may not.  I don't have specific experience sawing frozen beech.  It's been plenty cold lately, so this is a good thing to check on before felling the tree.

Tim

Never thought of that. Thanks.

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