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Drying pine for a trestle table

A brief look at the basics of drying freshly milled, 3-inch-thick pine. 1998.

by Professor Gene Wengert

Q.
I am going to build a trestle table with 3 inch thick pine. The pine is freshly milled to 3 inch thick by 21 inches wide. How long should I let it dry and what can I do to help it dry?

A.
The questions you ask would take an entire book to answer completely. In brief, the wood should be dried to the same MC that it will achieve in use in order that it will not dry and shrink after you have made the table. In most houses, the final MC will be between 6% to 8% MC--6% MC in the winter and 8% in the summer. The required drying time varies depending on the temperature, wood thickness, species, and so on. There have been many reports and books written about how to dry lumber. Certainly, you will want to coat the ends of the piece to prevent the ends from cracking or splitting. Then, you will want to hold the piece flat so that it doesn't warp. I suspect it is white pine (?) in which case you can dry it fairly rapidly, but if you go too fast, it will crack severely. Send me a SASE and I will send you a list of books on drying. What state are you in? Perhaps there is someone in Extension that can help further.

Professor Gene Wengert is Extension Specialist in Wood Processing at the Department of Forestry, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Click on Wood Doctor Archives to peruse past answers.

If you would like to obtain a copy of "The Wood Doctor's Rx", visit the Wood Education and Resource Center Web site for more information.

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