Sunday, May 27, 2012

Can I or "CANT" I?

A little over a month ago I had the opportunity to visit a regional hardwood distributor. Their facility is huge, by my standards, and operations cover custom milling, kiln drying locally harvested hardwoods and national and international distribution. While I was there I purchased both 6"-8" wide 4/4 Cherry and 6"-8" 4/4 Walnut for future projects. I was amazed at the pricing, which was $2.00/BF for the Cherry (6' Shorts) and $4.00/BF on the Walnut (5' Shorts). The only disappointment was the fact they had limited supplies of thicker stock (8/4+) at that facility, but could provide any sizes within a week of ordering. I am very excited to know a reliable and affordable source of material is within a 45 minute drive of the house.

My visit to the distributor prompted a deeper look into local sources for domestic hardwood. Large scale distributors aren't around every corner, but local saw mills are prevalent in West Virginia and Southwestern Virginia. So I started looking and determined there are several mom and pop type operations, several of operations which supply the distributor I visited and a couple of large scale operations.

Friday, I had the opportunity to visit a local mid-sized saw mill to learn about their services and what materials they have available. I was also interested in purchasing some Hard Maple and Soft Maple, if the price was right. The first thing I learned from my visit is I need to call ahead to see what they're cutting. They schedule their cutting operations around "Supply and Demand", so they may cut Maple for two straight weeks and then not cut it again for 3 or 4. The second thing I learned is they ship the materials as fast as they come off the saw, so timing a purchase is imperative. They had just stopped cutting Maple the first of last week and were cutting Red Oak while I was onsite, so they didn't have (or did they?) any Maple available. After a pleasant conversation with the Yard Manager he offered to check one place they may have stashed a few scraps of maple from earlier in the week. Low and behold he comes walking back across the yard with two large Hard Maple "CANTS". They measured 44" and 48" in length, 6" in width and 14/4 "3.5") in thickness for a total of 13.4BF. I offered to pay for them, but he said they were on the house, so I loaded them up headed to the house.
Who Doesn't Love A Freebie?
Now to explain the title of this post. While these hunks of Maple are awesome to behold and difficult not to immediately cut into, I have to dry them and therein lies my quandary. Number one this is my first attempt to dry green lumber and secondly these "CANTS" have some heartwood and pith  running through them. Do I cut out the pith? If so, how much? Can I dry them in my shop? Would a dehumidifier help or hurt? Should I wax or paint the ends. So many questions, so little time AAaarrggggg!!! Simply asked; What can I or CANT I do to maximize the yield from these large pieces of green Hard Maple?

Any help or general comments would be appreciated. I have provided the picture below for your viewing pleasure and hopefully review and comment. Thanks in advance for the assistance!!!
Right End As View On Work Bench Showing Pith And Heartwood

Left End As View On Work Bench Showing Pith And Heartwood

Close Up Of End Grain Showing Sapwood, Heartwood And Pith

Bottom Of Longest Board

Until my next post,

Keep Your Mind on your Fingers and your Fingers on your Hands!!!


  1. I always like to play it safe and from my experiences its best to cut all the pith out. Putting wax on the end allows the board to dry evenly and keeps the ends from checking. Using a dehumidifier would help them dry quicker and as long as the ends are waxed well I think its a good Idea.

    1. Thanks so much for your response. I will update this post in the near future with my results.