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Processing the Wood (Milling and Drying)

Before you begin any wood processing, make sure you and the WARP crew are working safely, and that a Safety Person has been assigned. You should also know that much of the wood you will be rescuing is "Urban" wood, that mean trees that have often been planted by people in and around where they live. One of the facts of urban wood and trees is there are sometimes bits of metal embedded in the tree. These can be anything from nails that were driven into the tree decades ago, to bullets that were shot at a tree, wire that the tree has grown around or other bits of metal.

These bits of metal, depending on their size can damage saw blades, as well they pose a risk of flying metal. It is imperative that EVERYONE working around a milling site be properly safety equipped, especially safety eye wear.

#1 - Buck the tree into usable lengths, the longer the better, with ten feet often being the maximum length. Cut away smaller branches and if the tree branches or "Ys" significantly such as a split trunk, cut slightly below the the crotch of the branching as "crotch wood" is valued by woodturners for it's unique wood grain twists for bowls and other objects. This is why it is a good idea to pool different types of woodworkers on a wood recovery team.

#2 - Haul the bucked tree to a holding yard, or if possible bring in a portable sawmill and cut it where it is, if this is allowed. Often the sawmill operator can help you determine the best way to cut wood the wood in planks for use in furniture and other building needs. If there is no body in your club with this experience it is wise to study the best way to cut a log into planks. The thickness you cut the wood will be determined by whether or not you are going to air dry or kiln dry the wood. As a guideline we suggest cutting planks approximately eight inches wide and two and a half inches thick by six, eight or ten feet long. This will give a green piece of lumber that once dried will shrink to a usable size.

#3 - After the wood has been cut into planks, determine if the wood will be sold green or processed (kiln dried). Clean up the holding yard and prepare to sell the milled wood or haul it to kiln for drying.

#4 - Drying green wood can take days in a heat drying kiln, or weeks in a solar or evaporation drying kiln. Many hardwoods are either air dried naturally, or dried in solar or evaporation kilns that dry the wood slowly, thus helping to reduce twisting of the wood.

#6 - Sell the wood to wood club members, and donate portions of it to local schools and other woodworking programs to help out your community.
We also suggest that the members who work within the wood recovery program be the ones given first right of refusal for purchasing the wood when it is ready to be sold.

REMEMBER - The first time you operate your wood recovery program things may not go as smoothly as you would like, but each time you do this everyone learns how the process works and subsequent events will go much smoother. Nothing good comes without a little effort.


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