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Sawing and Drying Red Gum

Advice on how to process Red Gum and comments about its marketability. January 2, 2012

Question
I'm looking for input from people who have sawn and dried red gum. I have no experience with it, but love the color variations. I am looking at buying a TL to add to our inventory. I'm setting up my Nyle 200 now, but my supplier is trying to move some good sized red gums. Here is one that he gave me to saw and see what I think. What problems can come with drying the wood? What techniques do you recommend? Should I air dry to a particular MC?


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Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Red gum is extremely prone to warping. Use 12" sticker spacing, top weights and dry it as fast as possible. In years past, it was steamed before drying to enhance color and reduce warp.



From the original questioner:
Thanks Doc. Do you think with heavy weights 2 months would be safe? I'm in Southeastern VA and have great natural wind flow. Does anyone else sell this lumber often?


From contributor A:

Steaming helps a lot. Anything wider than 8 inches I saw 5/4 thick to have room to plane down flat. Qsawing produces a bit better lumber and color. One of those vacuum kilns that have the bladders that suck down on the lumber would really help in keeping the wood flat. It is pretty wood and once dry is not too bad to work with.


From the original questioner:
Do you cut out the sap and make that lumber on its own, or do you keep it part of the heart? Some of these sap rings are 5" alone. I was thinking of cutting the sap off and quartersawing that, then cutting the heart with no sap on it. Not sure if I'm just opening myself up for more issues or not.


From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I have one client that has had 20,000 bf of red gum for over five years and has not sold it all. In the first half of the 20th century, red gum was quite popular, but no longer. I love the wood for hobby woodworking.


From the original questioner:
What's the going rate for 4/4 FAS? I've seen it high dollar, but that was more toward the hobby packs S4S.


From contributor A:
The white wood on the outside is called sap gum and it has its markets as well. I leave the sap on the boards, as it gives come character to it. Most folks do not know what the lumber even looks like, but if they can see it as flooring or trim they love it.

Gum does spalt. As for prices, it sells as pallet wood here no matter the grade. I buy it from circle mills for $400 mbdft and they are proud to sell it to me. Most of the time it goes for $280 mbdft.

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