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Sparky1951

Red Oak - Still Green

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I have a question.

 

Near the house we have a lumber mill that makes construction timbers for the shoring industry.  They also cut some boards to sell retail.  All green.  My wife wanted some gargen benches so I went and got some 3" slabs of red oak, 13" wide.  Yes - they weigh a ton.  I ran them through the planer and they look great.

 

Now for the questions.  They will take forever to dry.  Can I put some sort of sealer on them?  I would rather them not turn gray.  I know they will check over time but for now I would like to protect them to the degree possible.

 

Thanks

 

Sparky

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Hi Sparky,

 

If they are really wet I would be reluctant to try and seal them. Because they are so green at best the treatment will just stay on the surface, at worst it will just come off or fail. Because the timber cells are saturated (the water is making the wood heavy) they wont allow the treatment to absorb or bond. This is one of the reasons green oak buildings are not treated with sikkens or the like. 

If I were you I would allow the timber to dry for a while (a year an inch!) or a bit less on outside furniture and then apply treatment, oil, sikkens, whatever floats your boat. Sadly you should do this before you prepare your would as it will distort, shrink etc as it drys.

I don't have much experience with Red Oak, is it a durable timber in small thicknesses?

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If you are wanting to build your benches now do not make any joints permanent yet. If you can keep them out of the rain that would be helpful. Try weighing each bench on a pair of bathroom scales, when the weight stabilizes you can plane, sand and finish your work.

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A year per inch is a myth. The time it takes to air dry depends solely on stack date and where you live. Air drying times are calculated with wood stored outdoors, stickered under a covered area free from rain and snow. In your heated shop or house it will dry much faster. 20% MC is about as low as your going to go outdoors in most of the country except the desert areas like arizona.

For outdoor furniture you want to equalize to your area of the country outdoors. Meaning your not worried about bringing the wood down to 6 or 8 %. May through august is the best time to stack your lumber. For example if you lived in Columbus OH 4/4 red oak stacked today would take about 75 days to reach 20% if you cut and stacked the same wood in November it would take about 150 days to reach 20%

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A year per inch is a myth. The time it takes to air dry depends solely on stack date and where you live. Air drying times are calculated with wood stored outdoors, stickered under a covered area free from rain and snow. In your heated shop or house it will dry much faster. 20% MC is about as low as your going to go outdoors in most of the country except the desert areas like arizona.

For outdoor furniture you want to equalize to your area of the country outdoors. Meaning your not worried about bringing the wood down to 6 or 8 %. May through august is the best time to stack your lumber. For example if you lived in Columbus OH 4/4 red oak stacked today would take about 75 days to reach 20% if you cut and stacked the same wood in November it would take about 150 days to reach 20%

Sorry dude, I forget that the UK is very small compared to the US with so much more climate variation than we have. A year per inch is a good rule of thumb for our climate. However, listen to Particle, he has a much better grip of your climate than I do. 

I think we agree on letting it dry before applying any coating?

Also, Red oak, durable?

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I had a bunch of red oak milled this past Fall.  Granted I am storing it indoors on top of a heated slab, but the 8/4 stock is now hovering around 14%.  The 4/4 material is down to 8.  Only thing I would suggest is to coat the ends right away with either heavy wax or some type of paint to minimize checking (I used epoxy paint as it's what I have on hand) and sticker the pile with strips of 3/4" plywood (mine are cut about 1" wide spaced roughly 3' apart). 

 

It's been 5 months for my pile and I figure the 8/4 material should be good to go next month.  With 12/4 material I would anticipate about a years time providing you're able to keep it dry and have good air flow.. It's going to be difficult to tell as most moisture meters only read about 1" in depth.  So there's the risk that if you scanned your slabs in a year the top 1" on each side could be much drier than the middle 1".  

 

Weight would be a good indicator as Don said.. 

 

I guess if it were me, I would resist the temptation to use them right away.  Until they are dry enough to apply some sort of sealant, Red oak isn't very resistant to rot / mildew...

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I made a grill table out of red oak scraps years ago. Put a coat of oil on it twice a year. It was pretty rotten in 5 years. Served it's purpose for me and I had little time and no money invested. Boatworks knows the most about exterior finishes on wood, listen to him.

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Gents,

 

Thanks for the great adivce.  I am making three sitting benches.  Two will be protected from the elements and one will be exposed to the rain, sun, sleet, hail, and what ever mother nature decides to throw at it.

 

My plan is to let the outside one weather and dry for a year or so.  If it warps, well such is life.  The others will air dry for a year then I will replane, edge, and finish.

 

Regards,

 

Sparky

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