Air Drying a Slab with a Severe Curve

Lumbermen report mixed results trying to dry stump sections with intense and unusual curvature. April 21, 2008

I will soon cut down a tree that has an unusual curve to it. The curved part is almost a semicircle. It will make a unique bench. To anyone who has air dried parts of trees with severe bends or curves, will the natural curve of the tree straighten out as it dries, or will the curve remain the same as when I cut it, because the wood fibers (the grain) grew in a semicircle? I might build a large jig that will prevent the curved branch from straightening as it dries, although I would be happy to not have to spend the time and money building a form.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor J:
I would be surprised if anyone has experience drying a curved cross section - but it is possible. I would not restrain the movement, because it would put more stresses on it and make it more likely to crack a lot.

From contributor P:
I have successfully slabbed a curved western red cedar log with my Alaskan mill and air dried it to make benches. While it may cup and twist as just about any slab will unless restrained, you can expect it to retain its curve. Species? Different species have different stresses. Cut it thick to allow for movement.

From contributor K:
There are a lot of variables that can affect the outcome. Reaction wood could surely cause problems, and is fairly likely. I had a neighbor give me a fairly nice cherry a couple of years ago, but the second section up had a pretty good bend in it. Since I do a lot of curved work, and was sawing for my own use, I did saw it up. When I got into it, I found that the grain spiraled around the trunk so abruptly that the grain was running more through the thickness of the planks than it was along with it. Well, as you might guess, the results have not been stellar. Start with a bow, then add a bad twist to that, then figure out how to deal with that for lumber which has no strength due to grain run-out... and you've got firewood. But I love to use cherry on the smoker. My advice is to remove some of the bark, and inspect the grain direction closely before putting a lot of work into it.

From contributor C:
I do it all the time with no problems. Just stack weight on top of the pile like you would for any other lumber.