Drying Submerged Logs Recovered from a Lake

A discussion of the technical and legal issues relating to recovered "sinker" logs. September 6, 2010

I live on a lake that has hundreds of hardwood logs that have been underwater for approximately 90-100years. These logs were cut in the early part of the century, floated to the lake where many of them sank before making it to the sawmill. I have recovered 5-6 in the last two years (oak and maple). I understand that drying this wood requires a different process than green timber. I had the logs I recovered promptly sawed, stickered and air dried, but have had a problem with warping, I do not want to recover any more until I can be sure I can handle this wood properly. These logs are extremely dense with 30+ rings per inch, have no sap, and are 12-16 foot long. I use what I can for home projects, but I do not want to salvage any more unless I know how to properly handle this beautiful wood.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor G:
Sounds like you need to dry it even slower than you are. I assume you have weighted the top boards? Answer from similar question: it is not uncommon for submerged logs to crack excessively because there are anaerobic bacteria that develop in the log, creating an enzyme that destroys the wood structure. For best results, have the log sawn as soon as possible, into as thin of pieces as possible, and then dry the lumber as slowly as possible. Some fungal mold can be expected.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
When recovering logs from a lake, there is a big problem with increasing the silt, which has stopped most lake recovery. Ask yourself why the logs sank. They obviously had too much water and not enough air bubbles, as 100% wood is 1.5 times heavier than water. Normal logs have quite a bit of air bubbles. The logs without the ability to float are called sinkers. They lose air bubbles because they are infected with bacteria, which leads to considerable weakening of the wood and therefore requiring very slow drying. Warping is not expected to be affected by underwater storage. Normal warp control is appropriate.