Today we present an article dedicated to wood drying, following a traditional and natural way. So, if you like wood o you are just looking for some tip for a correct wood drying, this article interests you. Let’s start.
The wood drying, a natural process?
Nowadays we can find 3 types of wood drying: natural, accelerated natural and artificial. Today we will focus in the first one because is the oldest and is still the most used. It is important to say that this kind of drying is also the most respectful with the environment. The other ones use high amounts of water and they need an industrial dryer.
The wood drying by a natural process is simple and with it we can maintain the original colour. Even so, it has also some disadvantages that you should know. For the beginning you would need lot of time and a big field, so it will take a long time to recover the investment. On the other hand, the natural process doesn’t eliminate the worms or insects that can have the wood, only can be achieved with industrial drying. Finally, the dryer process can change according to the kind of wood and the clime of the area. On average it takes about 4 years, reaching up to 7 in some cases.
Precautions for good drying
The wood drying process should begin with the transfer of the wood, immediately after leaving the sawmill, to non-wet lands. A first drying is done until the middle of autumn, before the arrival of the rains. Upon this date, it is necessary to cover and place the wood under cover.
The main problems that can ruin the drying process are the formation and the humidity. For this reason, logs or planks can never be left directly on the ground or in contact with each other. The humidity of the soil generates mold and woodworm in the wood, rotting it quickly. On the contrary, the contact between trunks or planks overheats the outer face and ferments.
A very useful practice is that of longing. It involves removing the bark from the trunk the spring before cutting down the tree. In this way, a much faster drying is achieved. Otherwise, if we remove the bark once the tree is cut, it will also dry quickly but the wood will be deformed. We should never remove the bark in summer because the sap under the bark will ferment with the heat, seriously deteriorating the wood.
Cut and stack the wood
Once the trunks are cut into planks or boards, they are placed horizontally in piles, piece on piece and separated by small slats with a thickness of 1 to 4cm. To isolate the wood from the ground, it is necessary to use thicker pieces of wood (minimum 7cm). The parts that are farthest from the ground are the ones that will dry out first. Depending on the hardness and the type of cut, the size of the batteries will vary. Thus, for hard woods it is possible to stack it in block form, while soft or woodwork should be placed crosswise and arranged according to the same thickness.
Hardwoods must be stacked in winter because drying is slow and this climate allows to correct twists or kinks. Softwoods dry faster, but are more sensitive to moisture, so stacking should start in the spring. If it is detected that the pieces are wet, it is necessary to leave more separation between them. It is also important to protect them from inclement weather. The drying of the wood should be carried out in excess with protective walls against the dominant wind. Thus, we will avoid possible cracks by the Sun or by excessive ventilation.
We must to take in mind that during the first drying the woods must move periodically. Otherwise, the contact areas will be stained, marking the wood forever. To avoid this, it is useful to place a table with information on the type of wood, date of felling and sawing and a planning to record each movement.
Second phase of drying: the warehouse
After two months and once the woods are dried, they are placed in closed sheds before winter, sheltered from the Sun but with sufficient ventilation – they will still retain an average of 30% moisture after the first drying. A warehouse would be ideal but if we can not dispose of it, we can build a pergola with boards or a sloping roof over the pile. In no case will wood be introduced into the building if it is wet or soaked as it is most likely to ferment or rot. If this is the case, it is necessary to let it dry again to the Sun.
In this process, as well as in the previous one, it is important to eliminate the wood that gives off bad odor, present woodworm or some disease since it will contaminate the others. Also, the disposition of the batteries must be logical and functional, allowing quick and safe access for workers and vehicles.
Once the wood drying process has been verified, we can stack it without intermediate strips, separated only from the ground. This will allow us to correct possible deformations and torsions.