Trying 3 methods of red oak seasoning

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Eric Minnis

New Member
Dec 25, 2020
46
NC
Read all I could on this forum and decided to just try some different seasoning methods myself. I live in central NC and am trying to get my wood supply set up for next year. Just built a new house so I am starting from scratch. All the wood is from a recently fallen red oak (with the exception of a few rows of pecan on top of one of the IBC totes). All wood has been split between December 30 2020 and January 21 2021. The goal is to have firewood ready to burn next fall and simplify the handling of it.

The methods I am trying are:
1) Stacked 2 rows wide (8-12" air gap between rows) sitting off the ground. Top is covered with a tarp
2) IBC totes with the tops covered
3) Ventilated log lift bag sitting on a pallet with the top covered

One early observation is that the firewood bag holds a little less than the IBC neatly stacked. Also, if you are going to move the firewood bag you have to use the straps. it is unstable sitting on a pallet with anything less than perfectly level ground.

Depending on moisture content in May/ June, I may build a solar kiln to ensure my wood is ready for next fall. The location gets abundant sun and lots of wind. It is on high ground and stays dry. If I do build a kiln, I will measure the moisture content of each before using the kiln.

I have lots more to cut between now and then but this first batch should get us going for next year. A recent storm left 2 red oaks down that measure 36" and 40". I have at least 5-6 cords left to gather.

Appreciate any opinions and other methods I should consider.

Attached is a picture. Still have to cut the lid for one of the IBC totes.......
IMG_6061.jpg
 

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,277
Massachusetts
Ive never seen green red oak dry in a year from my experience and we have tons of it up here. If it was long standing dead, maybe. I live in a very different climate though so it could be very different down there.

How does being non-ventilated speed it up? I would think letting the moisture out would be beneficial. I'm just a basic stack/roof + sun and wind guy though! ;)
 
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Simonkenton

Minister of Fire
Feb 27, 2014
2,136
Marshall NC
The wood shed walls and floor are made entirely of wood. The floor is at least 16 inches off the ground. The shed sets in sunshine all day long. Heat builds up, and water vapor passes through the floor and walls.

Rain never hits the wood. Evening fog never gets on the wood. The wood, in sunny weather, remains 10 degrees warmer than wood stacked outside.

Thousands of pounds of water vapor have passed through the walls and floor in five years.
 

gzecc

Minister of Fire
Sep 24, 2008
4,940
NNJ
Split smaller and cross stack.
 
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BigJ273

Minister of Fire
Feb 15, 2015
523
Maryland
No way red oak will be ready in less than 2 years (minimum) with just basic air drying. You will def need to build a kiln if u plan on it being faster.
 
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Eric Minnis

New Member
Dec 25, 2020
46
NC
We have traditionally been able to burn red oak a year after it is cut here in central NC in the fireplace with ease. We get warmer faster and stays longer than MD and NJ. That has to help. I understand my woodstove will be a different story. The kiln is an intriguing project and something that I think I would enjoy tinkering with. Actually thinking of a way to do a kiln on each of the IBC totes as I have several more to fill up.

Love the looks of that ventilated woodshed. I cut the pines off our land and ended up with thousands of FBM of some of the most beautiful lumber. I might have enough left over to build something like that.
 
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hickoryhoarder

Minister of Fire
Apr 5, 2013
726
Indiana
Only way red oak will be ready next winter is a solar kiln or simonkenton's shed, in my opinion.

Great stack/storage techniques might cut the usual three years to two. I often have stuff ready in 30 months, and some splits in 24. But less than 24 is optimistic in conventional stacking (in the sun, in the breeze, etc.0.
 
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gzecc

Minister of Fire
Sep 24, 2008
4,940
NNJ
I had red oak that still wasn't dry after 3 yrs once. Bad location, but was split big and stacked.
 

Nate R

Member
Nov 5, 2015
83
Wisconsin
I'm doing a bit of a red oak mini-kiln experiment myself.
My 100 year old house has a walk up attic 3rd floor. Insulation is in the attic floor, so it gets QUITE warm up there in summer, with good sun exposure to the roof. There are no soffit vents, just mushroom type vents on the roof on one side. I have a fan in one that runs when the attic is hotter than 86 or so.

Anyway, I have a few cubic feet of red oak splits that I put up there last month. I weighed and marked some when I split them, at about 48% moisture content according to my meter. Curious to see how fast they get to <20% moisture. I'll post when I know more.

If I don't have enough wood for my first winter to burn, I'll buy some kiln-dried stuff locally, and cut it shorter to fit in my stove, and take it to the cabin a bit at a time. So I've got backup plans. :)
 

andym

Feeling the Heat
Feb 6, 2020
440
Hicksville, Ohio
I'm doing a bit of a red oak mini-kiln experiment myself.
My 100 year old house has a walk up attic 3rd floor. Insulation is in the attic floor, so it gets QUITE warm up there in summer, with good sun exposure to the roof. There are no soffit vents, just mushroom type vents on the roof on one side. I have a fan in one that runs when the attic is hotter than 86 or so.

Anyway, I have a few cubic feet of red oak splits that I put up there last month. I weighed and marked some when I split them, at about 48% moisture content according to my meter. Curious to see how fast they get to <20% moisture. I'll post when I know more.

If I don't have enough wood for my first winter to burn, I'll buy some kiln-dried stuff locally, and cut it shorter to fit in my stove, and take it to the cabin a bit at a time. So I've got backup plans. :)
I've pondered a similar idea many times. I have a gambrel roof shed that has a full loft. It gets pretty warm up there in the summer. I could easily set up a conveyor to run a couple cords in the window at each end (no stacking, just piles). I don't have a conveyor and meanwhile the loft is filling up with junk.....
 

ohlongarm

Minister of Fire
Mar 18, 2011
1,606
Northeastern Ohio
View attachment 272434

Build a non ventilated woodshed, like mine. I leave the door closed. Your wood will all be dry for next November.
I once covered a couple cords of fresh cut red oak with greenhouse clear plastic direct sunlight it was absolutely dry in one year. The plastic is made in Israel and a guy that owns a greenhouse gave me a small roll.
 

jaoneill

Feeling the Heat
I once covered a couple cords of fresh cut red oak with greenhouse clear plastic direct sunlight it was absolutely dry in one year. The plastic is made in Israel and a guy that owns a greenhouse gave me a small roll.


View attachment 272434

Build a non ventilated woodshed, like mine. I leave the door closed. Your wood will all be dry for next November.
[/QUOTE
Actually, this shed appears to be almost ideally ventilated with the rafter cavities and ridge cap providing egress for warm/hot moisture laden air at the highest points of the enclosure. Easy to understand why it works well in a southern climate; might not be as efficient further north.
 

RandyBoBandy

Minister of Fire
Feb 25, 2015
1,353
Whitmore lake, MI
Read all I could on this forum and decided to just try some different seasoning methods myself. I live in central NC and am trying to get my wood supply set up for next year. Just built a new house so I am starting from scratch. All the wood is from a recently fallen red oak (with the exception of a few rows of pecan on top of one of the IBC totes). All wood has been split between December 30 2020 and January 21 2021. The goal is to have firewood ready to burn next fall and simplify the handling of it.

The methods I am trying are:
1) Stacked 2 rows wide (8-12" air gap between rows) sitting off the ground. Top is covered with a tarp
2) IBC totes with the tops covered
3) Ventilated log lift bag sitting on a pallet with the top covered

One early observation is that the firewood bag holds a little less than the IBC neatly stacked. Also, if you are going to move the firewood bag you have to use the straps. it is unstable sitting on a pallet with anything less than perfectly level ground.

Depending on moisture content in May/ June, I may build a solar kiln to ensure my wood is ready for next fall. The location gets abundant sun and lots of wind. It is on high ground and stays dry. If I do build a kiln, I will measure the moisture content of each before using the kiln.

I have lots more to cut between now and then but this first batch should get us going for next year. A recent storm left 2 red oaks down that measure 36" and 40". I have at least 5-6 cords left to gather.

Appreciate any opinions and other methods I should consider.

Attached is a picture. Still have to cut the lid for one of the IBC totes....... View attachment 272429
If you choose the IBC tote route you will need a lot of them. We use these for processing and kiln drying firewood. The conveyor loosely dumps the wood into the totes and then we stack them in the kiln. With this method of filling the totes we are only averaging about 1/2 face per tote. If you are tightly packing them than you can squeeze a little more in. Not sure what they are selling for in your area but we paid $40/tote.
 
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RandyBoBandy

Minister of Fire
Feb 25, 2015
1,353
Whitmore lake, MI
I haven’t read every response but I agree with everyone saying 2 year minimum on red oak unless you solar kiln it. I can’t remember who but someone on here I believe has successfully solar kiln dried oak in one season.
 

mpaul

Member
I'm doing a bit of a red oak mini-kiln experiment myself.
My 100 year old house has a walk up attic 3rd floor. Insulation is in the attic floor, so it gets QUITE warm up there in summer, with good sun exposure to the roof. There are no soffit vents, just mushroom type vents on the roof on one side. I have a fan in one that runs when the attic is hotter than 86 or so.

Anyway, I have a few cubic feet of red oak splits that I put up there last month. I weighed and marked some when I split them, at about 48% moisture content according to my meter. Curious to see how fast they get to <20% moisture. I'll post when I know more.

If I don't have enough wood for my first winter to burn, I'll buy some kiln-dried stuff locally, and cut it shorter to fit in my stove, and take it to the cabin a bit at a time. So I've got backup plans. :)
I’m not sure if I’d want to carry all my firewood up to and then back down from a 3rd story attic. I’d also be worried about bringing in all the insects or potential termites into my home.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,679
central pa
No way red oak will be ready in less than 2 years (minimum) with just basic air drying. You will def need to build a kiln if u plan on it being faster.
I did it under 2 years all the time. But with the wet summers we have been having lately I had to kiln it the past few years
 
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Eric Minnis

New Member
Dec 25, 2020
46
NC
The IBC totes are nice but you are correct- they do not hold that much. I stacked mine tight and think I may have 1/3 cord. I am getting mine for free but not frequent enough to get enough to use regularly.
The most convenient method I have tried is these ventilated log lift bags. They hold a good bit and I can go straight from the splitter into them. They are ventilated mesh on all 4 sides. If they do not slow drying time they will be the method I use from now on. Only time will tell. It is so much less touch time and I can just fork a bag into the garage or under the porch and it will last us weeks. I do plan to try to use a solar kiln with them this summer. Here is a picture of a bag I filled with pecan today. I do keep the top covered so no rain can get on the wood and on pallets so no ground contact. They also get lots of sun and wind. I got 10 to try this year and I think they were about $17 each. I can see them lasting several years if the UV does not affect them.

63415623984__3B2CDEC5-A970-4960-90E7-7FFB3D412EB2.JPG
 

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,277
Massachusetts
I’m not sure if I’d want to carry all my firewood up to and then back down from a 3rd story attic. I’d also be worried about bringing in all the insects or potential termites into my home.

Yeah I'd be pretty leery of bringing that much into the house long term. If it's a nice day out or there's a storm coming I'll bring in 3-4 days worth into my unfinished basement then I keep no more than 1-2 days worth upstairs next to the stove to warm up for use. There's all sorts of God knows what on/in the wood.
 

Nate R

Member
Nov 5, 2015
83
Wisconsin
I’m not sure if I’d want to carry all my firewood up to and then back down from a 3rd story attic. I’d also be worried about bringing in all the insects or potential termites into my home.

Oh, absolutely on how much carrying....I've only got a few armfuls up there to see how it goes. More of a curiosity, I wouldn't want to put a cord up there or anything.
Not too much risk of termites in the northern pin oak I harvested, (Wisconsin), I'm not worried about insects much either out of this batch/area.