Air-Drying Persimmon

Persimmon has value, but it moves a lot as it dries. April 30, 2006

I am in the process of removing 6 persimmon trees so I can build a 36'x36' addition onto my current workshop. 4 trees are in the 10" range and the other 2 are 8", and I plan to get 1 log out of each of these trees for lumber, at least 10' long and clear (one of them is straight and appears clear 18'+). I heard drying persimmon is a problem. I currently have 1 log cut and the ends waxed with paraffin and laying mostly shaded on my gravel driveway. I have no place to put them right now except for out in the open (on the north side of motor home currently). After I build my addition, I will have plenty of dry storage underneath, so do I need to do anything to the logs that I am currently not doing? They will probably remain as logs for a few more months until my building is framed. Once I have a place for good dry storage, should I continue to let the logs air dry or should I have them sawn and stickered ASAP? Is this persimmon really worth the trouble?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor D:
Persimmon is desirable to some. I have used the lumber for special projects. It can be difficult to dry thin stock. For me, that is not too big a deal, as I have a sawmill. I have sawn thick stock, then resawn dry. It is used primarily for turning I think, and have sold some of the thick stock to turners before I had a chance to use it. I don't know where you live, but if it is a cold climate, they will keep all winter. The only bad part (maybe) is their small size, as you will not get much lumber from them to worry about. Someone may post and tell you that size is good for bowl blanks and such. I am more familiar with bigger ones. I don't know what you plan on using it for, or if you are just looking for a marketable raw material. Do a quick E-Bay search for persimmon, if there is any listed - even the little pen blanks bring pretty good money.

From the original questioner:
Persimmon lumber seems pretty rare to find and costly when found. I've seen it selling for $7 bf on the internet. I just don't know what to do with it. The logs are quite small, but I probably still figure to get a good 150+ bf of really good material and bunches of scrap. The first log sawn has really dark mineral streaks showing on both ends and I predict it goes all the way through. Maybe gets a lower grade, but I don't plan to sell it, so it would only add character to whatever I could build out of it. Wonder if this material would make a good island countertop?

From contributor D:
It would make a very good countertop I would think, as it's plenty hard and finishes well.

From contributor T:
I am not sure about the countertop idea. Persimmon is indeed very hard, but it is also extremely unstable and I doubt it would stay flat. I use it for drawer runners (it is wear resistant) or tool handles. Cut it as thick as you can - there will be plenty of waste after it dries/warps/twists.

From the original questioner:
Would quartersawing the persimmon make it more stable? Stable enough to use it for some kind of furniture application? Could such small logs be quartersawn? I can't explain why, but I have a strong desire to build a unique piece of furniture, countertop, flooring or something out of persimmon that was cut off my property. Even if I am reduced to using it as an inlay. Just want people to see it.

From contributor O:
Persimmon is a member of the ebony family. The oriental variety is greatly esteemed in the orient as a carving and box wood. I doubt that the small logs you have will yield a great deal of the dark heart that distinguishes the other ebonies. It is also valued for its shock resistance and its ability to take a polish. So by all means, cut it (thick I should think), season it, and build yourself something pretty. At least your Japanese visitors will be impressed.

From contributor B:
In case you do saw it, sticker it on a good flat surface and weight it as much as you can. What I have sawed cupped pretty bad. I did not get it stacked and stickered soon enough. I sawed mine one full inch.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all your responses. Now to incorporate my persimmon project into some kind of marketing ploy! I guess I can assume air dry times for persimmon will be a bit longer than other hardwoods? I have had little luck here in KY to air dry hardwoods below 15% mc. To compensate after air drying, I move my lumber to the attic for a few weeks, only running my exhaust fan and opening my vents during the afternoon/evening. Then, if at all possible, move it to the place and preferably the room of final destination for another week. Seems to work really well for my home projects and no complaints from any customers yet. If I air dry red oak to below 20% mc in 14 months, then what can I expect my persimmon to do in the same conditions? 2 years+?

From contributor T:
My persimmon experiences dried reasonably fast - faster than oak. I put some on the bottom of two pallets of green lumber and it lifted them both up. Extreme weight or clamping is suggested.

I did not mean to suggest that you could not use persimmon for a furniture project, and of course QS is more stable (although your log size is probably too small for much QS material). I like using persimmon - it does take a fine luster and keeps a nice edge. Just don't ask it to do something it cannot do.

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