Drying newly felled trees

stevej8910 Posted By stevej8910, Aug 3, 2009 at 2:49 AM

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  1. stevej8910


    Oct 26, 2008
    Southern VT
    I took down some trees this past week and was wondering what was the best way to get the wood dry. Should I let them sit for a few weeks to let the leaves soak up the water and then buck and split or should I buck and split it sooner to get the wood drying faster?

    Thanks for the advice
  2. webby3650

    Master of Fire

    Sep 2, 2008
    Get it split as soon as possible, stack it loosly, off the ground,out in the wind and sun, don't bother covering it this year. If you do this it will be real good for the 2010/11 season.
  3. North of 60

    North of 60
    Minister of Fire

    Jul 27, 2007
    Yukon Canada
    As the above said. If you were planing on it for this year, I am sorry to say chances are nil. No matter what type of wood. Some here may say if its ash you may have a chance, but I wouldn't know. Splitting it really small if its ash it may work if it was to be used at the end of November along with a dry and warm end of summer into fall. Good luck!
  4. rdust

    Minister of Fire

    Feb 9, 2009
    I CSS a cord of white ash the first week of May and it's 18%-20% right now. This was an ash that was still living, I'd imagine if you have some standing dead like all the ones we have here you'll even be better off.
  5. LLigetfa

    Minister of Fire

    Nov 9, 2008
    NW Ontario
    The leaves will wilt and drop before any appreciable amount of sap is drawn out. Get it bucked right away and split soon after.
  6. DaveBP

    Minister of Fire

    May 25, 2008
    SW Maine
    Letting the leaves wilt on the tree will draw some water from the wood. I've unintentionally left a few trees to wilt before I was able to get them processed and I 'think' I was able to detect a slightly more difficult sawing job. That suggested to me that it might have been a little drier.

    But if it had been cut, split and stacked up off the ground and covered or not (according to your religious preferences) it would have been drying very quickly, too. And much faster, I believe.

    At some point years ago I came to the conclusion that letting the leaves transpire some water off was just another clever way to procrastinate. Kind of like waiting until some season or other to cut because the moisture content of the wood is lower at that time.
  7. Duetech

    Minister of Fire

    Sep 15, 2008
    S/W MI
    Allowing the leaves to wilt will take some extra water out of the wood but will not take a few weeks. As soon as the leaves wilt and begin to dry they effectively stop drawing water from the trunk and actually that water is located between the bark and the actual wood. If the bark is removed and the wood split smaller it will dry faster. If you don't have immediate time to cut the trunk up you can use the "leaves on" method and not hurt anything but it is just a small gain as time and dry air are needed to dry the heart of the split.
  8. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage
    Minister of Fire

    Feb 14, 2007

    Steve, you felled some trees this past week but you don't say what you felled. Maple? Oak? Ash? Elm? Popple? (No poplar around here. lol)

    The big key is what kind of wood you are working with.

    Leaving the leaves on the tree will draw some sap out of the wood. Waiting that 2 weeks or so draws quite a bit of moisture out of the tree. It is somewhat like unloading a truck load of gravel....a tablespoon at a time. So while it does have some effect, you will have much greater affect by cutting and getting it split ASAP. Then stacking it where wind and sun will do the best good.

    Time can be the enemy with many things but is your friend when it comes to drying wood.

    Regardless of what kind of wood it is, to get the best results do what Webby suggests. Here is how we would do it:

    1. Get it cut and split fast....like yesterday. Split it into very small splits.
    2. Lay something on the ground that would raise your stacks 5-6" off the ground or even higher. This could be logs, cement blocks with landscape timbers or RR ties, etc.
    3. Stack the rows loosely....and singly, in the sun and where best wind will hit the sides of the stacks.
    4. Leave a minimum of 4' between the rows.
    5. Do not cover the wood at all.
    6. Pray for sunny and dry weather.

    If you can stack the wood all in one single row where it will all be in the sun and wind it will be even better.

    Good luck.
  9. firefighterjake

    Minister of Fire

    Jul 22, 2008
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    Well by now you've read everyone's thoughts . . . and I don't have much to add to their thoughts.

    Cut, split, stack loose and expose to sun and wind . . . and hopefully you can wait until next year to burn this wood.

    If you are planning on burning this year, split smaller and hope you have some ash or some of the other species of wood which tend to season a bit faster (less moisture in the wood) . . . also get some pallets to help "supplement" the fire.

    And in case you were wondering, yes . . . you could get this wood to burn this year . . . but if the wood isn't truly seasoned it will result in more creosote, less heat and more of a hassle to get going . . . especially when used in a modern EPA woodstove.
  10. stevej8910


    Oct 26, 2008
    Southern VT
    The trees I took down were Maple and they ranged from 16"-24". Thanks for the advice - I am on my way out the door to start cutting them up and then split and stack. I was going to mix some of this wood in with other seasoned wood I have to burn this year but most of it is for next years burn. Thanks for the input
  11. Wet1

    Minister of Fire

    Apr 27, 2008
    If it's soft maple (such as Red Maple), you might be able to burn it yet this season if you get it split fairly thin and get it in the sun/wind right away. Soft maple dries quickly, but hard maple will not be ready to burn this season. Either will be okay for next year.
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