1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

DYI grilling planks

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Archie, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. Archie

    Archie Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    Messages:
    228
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    About a month or two ago, I got some free cherry wood logs on craigslist. The tree had been recently cut according to the owner, and not dead at the time. Many of the logs are in the 6-8" diameter range, so I got the idea I would try to make some DYI grilling planks. I don't have a bandsaw so I used my Saws-all (reciprocating saw) to make some 90 degree cross cuts on a log about 6 inches diameter. Thickness of the planks is around 1/2 inch. So far so good. But now, just a few days later, almost every one of the planks is cracking, from the outside in, and some almost all the way to the center of the plank. And by cracks, I mean all the way through. See pic for sample.

    Anyone ever tried this and had success? I was wondering if cutting on an angle would help. Or maybe let the log season in log form before cutting? cherry plank1.jpg Or am I on a fool's errand?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Messages:
    1,625
    Loc:
    NW Indiana
    Never tried it, but that is a very tough cut to keep from cracking. I'd suggest cutting in bigger chunks, like 6 inches long? and drying them slowly in a controlled manner. Once completely dried then cut into slices. 1/2" is probably still pushing it.
  3. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Messages:
    2,052
    Loc:
    Merrimack Valley, MA
    Internal stresses in the wood combined with quick drying will cause cracking. Seasoning will help it. How about finding the straightest pieces about 12 inches long and carefully splitting it down the length with a hatchet in a flat sawn manner to give you the planks. 1" thickness would be nice. You will get checking, but it may be on the end grains and not across.

    I can see a pork loin grilling away on a cherry plank. You got me thinking now, but it is too dark to pick the stacks tonight for a likely candidate to meet the hatchet.
    Thistle, DAKSY and midwestcoast like this.
  4. Archie

    Archie Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    Messages:
    228
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    I'm going to try that. I've also been drying these planks in the wood stove room. Probably too much drying too fast.
  5. Archie

    Archie Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    Messages:
    228
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    Most planks I see look like they're cut this way (long-ways), so I bet there is something to that. Hatchet sounds challenging, but I'll noodle on it. I think I am drying these too quickly, but I have some nice pieces and I'll keep those for some more experimentation.
  6. xman23

    xman23 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2008
    Messages:
    774
    Loc:
    Lackawaxen PA
    Archie, What is a grilling plank, and how do you use it?
  7. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Messages:
    1,625
    Loc:
    NW Indiana
    Yeah I think cross-cuts are always going to crack more. You don't have a bandsaw, but how about noodling into a block around 6" wide for drying with 2 straight sides & then run through a table saw with the straight edge along the fence. 2 passes on a table saw should get through 6-6 1/2".
  8. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    Messages:
    2,783
    Loc:
    Commonwealth Of Massachussetts
    ScotO and fishingpol like this.
  9. Archie

    Archie Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    Messages:
    228
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    Planks of wood about 1/2 inch thick or so and large enough to place a piece of meat on. Cedar, apple, cherry and others are popular; they give the meat enhanced flavor based on the type of wood you use. You're supposed to thoroughly soak the plank in water first, then place the plank on the grill, wait a while, then flip the plank over and put the meat on the hot side for grilling. A google search provides lots of info. When I googled DIY planks, all I could find was suggestions to go to the lumber yard and then cut your own from there; couldn't find anything on making them straight from the log form.
  10. Archie

    Archie Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    Messages:
    228
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    No table saw either, and using a chainsaw doesn't seem appealing due to getting bar/chain oil on the wood potentially. I did try my miter saw, trying to keep a straight cut as I made my way around the log, but that turned out poorly.
  11. Archie

    Archie Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    Messages:
    228
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
  12. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,058
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    Random thoughts . . .

    I would try to dry it more slowly . . . maybe put it in a garage or basement for a slower drying rate?

    Thinking that if this is just for cooking purposes . . . as long as it holds together will this crack make that much of a difference?

    Add an eye, a couple of multi colored ghosts and we've got the start of a Woodsman Pac-Man game.
  13. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Messages:
    6,407
    Loc:
    S.NH- Mass's smoking section
    Dry well first, then cut. It should take a couple years I'd think.
  14. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    2,586
    Loc:
    SE PA
  15. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,856
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    1 year per inch of thickness is what the slab cutters use for a time table for drying. End grain is gonna be tough to keep from cracking without treatment....and you don't want that treatment on something you are gonna be cooking on.

    Planks really are the only "good" way to do it.

    Find a chunk with straight grain about 12 inches long and let your log splitter do the work.
    Dune likes this.
  16. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Messages:
    2,052
    Loc:
    Merrimack Valley, MA
    Ok, I had some vacation time to use and I don't need much of an excuse to hack up a piece of wood for any reason.

    I took two seasoned cherry splits from the pile, both on the small side. I stood them on end and put my small hatchet on top and struck them 3-4 time with a wood mallet. The blade rode the grain but I got the slabs around just over and inch and re-split to about just over a 1/2". I bet white cedar being softer with a straight grain will work better. Sorry if I hijacked this thread.

    IMG_2158.JPG

    Two whacks into it.

    IMG_2161.JPG



    IMG_2166.JPG


    Splitting it down, getting a little squirrelly.

    IMG_2167.JPG


    Down to where it should be.


    IMG_2168.JPG

    Two splits and a few planks out of them. The word is rustic here.
    The pork won't care what the planks look like.

    Maybe I'll get some pics of the final product this weekend. I can almost smell it already.


    IMG_2169.JPG
    ScotO, zap, Thistle and 4 others like this.
  17. Archie

    Archie Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    Messages:
    228
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    Thanks everyone for all the great suggestions. Here's my "plan" right now: (1) I'll use what I can of the existing planks, except for the ones where the cracking is so severe I think it would interfere with getting a balanced grilling of the meat, (2) I'm going to try the same technique (saws-all) and cut at an angle, maybe 30 degrees? (I'll have to work out some kind of jig for this, but sounds doable) and see how that works, (3) put a few nicer/straighter cherry logs in the wood stove room for faster seasoning in the round / log form, and then cut planks some time in the future, (4) try cutting long ways with the grain with an axe/hatchet and not worry about the asthetics of how the planks look. Wife thinks I'm nuts, but I'm having fun.
  18. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    Messages:
    2,783
    Loc:
    Commonwealth Of Massachussetts
    Putting the wood in the stove room to season faster will just hasten checking. What you really want to do is season it SLOWER. This can be accomplished
    by coating the end grain with melted paraffin. Paint also works, but isn't food grade. Paraffin is.

    Not sure where you came up with cutting the wood at an angle.

    This article explains the methods of making planks to eliminate or reduce as much as possible checking and warping. cutting at at 30 degree angle will pretty much produce garbage, even for your desired use.

    http://www.northendhardwoods.com/2010/09/quarter-sawn-vs-plain-sawn-vs-rift-sawn-lumber/

    A froe would accomplish your task well.
  19. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Messages:
    2,052
    Loc:
    Merrimack Valley, MA
    Medallion shaped cut on an angle.

    [​IMG]
    ScotO likes this.
  20. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    Messages:
    2,783
    Loc:
    Commonwealth Of Massachussetts
    Ok, I misunderstood, sorry.
  21. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Messages:
    2,052
    Loc:
    Merrimack Valley, MA
    Ok, here is/was my lunch. Pork tenderloin with rub, on a cherry plank.

    Before cooking.

    IMG_2172.JPG

    Done. The brown sugar melted into a glaze and ran off the plank with the juices.

    I'll burn the plank later in the stove.

    IMG_2173.JPG


    Plated with cheddar mashed and baked beans. The flavor was very good. Sweet with cherry smoke notes. Pork cooked to 145::Fwith a little pink in the center.

    IMG_2178.JPG

    I do again apologize for the hijack. Once I set my mind to something like this, it is just going to happen.
    ScotO, Gasifier, zap and 1 other person like this.
  22. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    Messages:
    4,206
    Loc:
    Central IA
    Qwest (now Century Link) replaced the 80 yr old Western Red Cedar telephone pole in SW corner of backyard in May 2007.Set it less than 2 ft from the old one,switched all the powerlines.Finally
    pulled oldpole in May 2009.I asked them to save it for me instead of hauling it off.I marked off a 6ft length of the butt end that was creosoted & in the ground,it was 14" at large end,about 13" at small one.Milled a 4 1/2 x 13 beam from the center,that & the 2 outer slabs will be used for part of a bridge crossing a section of creek at parents acreage.Next I marked off a 10' length for split rails for a fence section. Then a 6 ft piece to be split into posts.

    Some of the scraps from the top end I milled on bandsaw into 1 1/2 x 7 x 15 grilling planks.Real easy working that stuff,it was literally 'new wood' after a few passes through the planer.I like them thicker than the normal 'store-bought' planks,that burn up in one use.Soaked in a 5 gallon bucket of water,I grilled a couple wild-caught Atlantic Salmon filets one day last Fall.Really like the cedar/salmon combo,next fav is a cherry plank with beef or pork. >>
    ScotO and fishingpol like this.
  23. thewoodlands

    thewoodlands Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Messages:
    10,825
    Nice looking meal fishingpol, I'm hungry again! How long did you soak it in water? Maybe my next Cherry tree I'll mill up a few.
    ScotO likes this.
  24. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Messages:
    2,052
    Loc:
    Merrimack Valley, MA
    Thanks Zap. 5 hour soak in a sink.
  25. Archie

    Archie Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    Messages:
    228
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    Yes, this is what I was referring to when I mentioned cut at an angle.

Share This Page