Drying Siberian Elm Slabs

Prone to warpage and bug damage, Siberian Elm is tricky wood to dry. March 31, 2008

I was wondering if anyone has a schedule for drying 3" Siberian elm slabs. I really don't want to screw up this beautiful wood. The slabs are 3" x 48" x 9'.

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Forum Responses
From contributor W:
I haven't had much luck drying Siberian elm. It's a beautiful wood but very prone to warp. Dry it real slow and use lots of weight, at least a couple tons on the stack. And get it kiln-dried ASAP. The bugs love it. I think a schedule for walnut works, but be very careful and do not rush it.

The first bunch I did was sawn 5/4 and air dried. The flinches were about 20" wide and they cupped up to an inch and the whole works was so buggy we ended up pushing in the pit and burning. The second bunch was a lot better, lots of weight and dry slow.

From contributor R:
Isn't Siberian elm what we tend to call Chinese elm here in the middle of the country? The ones that grow wild? I've always heard that it's soft and too fibrous to work with.

From contributor W:

I know there is a Chinese elm. The stuff we have is the Siberian. It also grows wild. We have it everywhere, mostly where we don't want it. I have tried several times to use it but have found that it likes to move around. It does make a fairly good horse fence if nailed up green.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
It does like to warp, as stated. Therefore, air drying with good air flow is the best drying, if you can keep the rain (and snow) off the lumber. I agree that heavy weights are essential.

From contributor J:
Siberian elm is the weed tree that throws seeds in the spring. Chinese elm seeds in the fall. Here in WY the Siberian were used for shelterbelts and you could count on a bushel of seeds every spring, but no tree worth anything except for firewood.

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Comment from contributor D:
Siberian Elm can be good wood! Itís about how good the tree was before milling - only mill large straight logs. Avoid natural bends and curves since they will create even more movement areas. I milled a SE that was 5' in diameter in quarter sawn fashion with very little waste and then air dried it for one year and also milled rift cut 3" thick rounds which also cracked very little after drying. Other Elms of normal size are probably firewood. Don't bother unless it is old growth of at least 80 plus years/rings.