I have several large, choice grade walnut logs that are 34" in diameter or larger that I am preparing to mill into boards, mostly 4/4 size.
What is the ideal width of board to aim for, keeping in mind the effects of warpage and distortion during drying? With logs this size, is it better to go with the widest board you can get (12"-15"), or is it better to go with 6"-8" widths to avoid the problems encountered during the drying process?
In the past, I've noticed excessive cupping in the 12" boards, whereas the narrower boards show less effect. I know wider boards are a premium, so I just want to know the best way to use the log.
Wide boards do bring more money, so if you can, cut the widest board possible, keeping the rings of the tree as centered as possible, and rip out the pith on any boards that contain it. You should get by OK. Your customers may be the best ones to ask this question--let them tell you what they want and it will be easier to sell. Make sure you weight the pile down heavy to keep the cupping problem to a minimum.
When I milled up some cypress I didn't weigh them down at all and they came out great, but I think I got lucky.
I抦 almost sure that I read on this forum that the suggested max weight is something like 140 lbs per sq/ft. That sounds like a lot to me and you better have 2 or 3 inch wide stickers to avoid crushing. But this tells me you抮e probably going to get tired of stacking stuff on the pile before you can have too much weight.
In the old days, the mills had a "busting saw" that ripped wide boards first. We also had larger trees then, which means less cupping.
Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor