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Drying Holly

Holly wood is prized for its white color, but it stains easily during drying. October 1, 2010

I have a big holly tree that I would like to cut and sell. I am a long time woodworker, but holly is a touchy wood from what I have researched. It has to be cut in the winter and dried in a certain way. I'm in Delaware and I have talked to the local kiln dryers about the holly with little enthusiasm from any of them. For a holly, this is a good sized tree. Does anyone have suggestions on drying or people that would be interested in this tree?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Holly wood is prized for its white color. It loses this color quickly if not dried fast (fungal and chemical stains). Proper drying is discussed in Drying Hardwood Lumber. Many operations can not dry this wood properly, so you might be unhappy.

From the original questioner:
I know that drying it in a press is preferred because it warps. I would like to confirm that holly should be cut in the winter, not the summer. Is there anything I should know about cutting this thing down? I also have several large quilted maple trees that can be cut, but I am keeping those for myself. I think these are veneer quality, but I won't know till I cut them.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Holly is cut in cold weather because both the fungal and chemical staining are very slow at wintertime temperatures. Holly is typically dried as all hardwoods are... stickering, good air flow, etc. Press drying is rare indeed. Use weights on top and accurate 12" stickering.

From contributor D:
I have dried a lot of holly in vacuum kilns. As has been said, it is difficult to keep it white and flat. Even when most of the wood is white, I often see a "drying front" under the shell where a greenish blue pigment is deposited. And it does wrinkle up like potato chips if it isn't pressed flat. I would not trust your lumber to anybody who does not have experience with holly. Call around and leave it stand until a kiln is found.

From contributor C:
This may be a case where it would be well worth finding a veneer mill that will slice and dry for you. Your yield will be far higher with regard to square feet and holly is prized in this form for marquetry, inlay and many other veneering applications. Also, the press drying (if done right) will significantly reduce the amount of staining compared to solid lumber.