Excessive Checking in 8/4 Honey Locust

Slower drying under moister conditions might have helped this load. August 31, 2005

Six months ago I cut 1000 bd ft of honey locust into 8/4 boards, half of which went into my DH kiln and dried to 6% at a very slow pace. The other half has been stickered for air drying. All the logs were coated with AnchorSeal immediately after felling.

The wood from the kiln has considerable checking (70% firewood). Thinking I had somehow screwed up the drying process, I looked at the air dried HL (stacked and stickered in a covered building; little air movement; winter temps). It is currently at 24% MC. Oddly, the air dried HL looks worse than the kiln dried HL. The following pictures are of the air dried HL. The checking which runs from end to end seems to be shallow; such that I could plane off .25" from each side and get below the checking. (The same defects on my kiln dried HL run far deeper.)

The tree was very straight; there did not appear to be any obvious stress; all the logs came from the trunk with no branching. Am I losing this load because I had it cut 8/4 instead of 4/4 or 5/4? Since the air dried stock is as damaged or more damaged than the KD stock, I don't think it could be the schedule. Maybe just the luck of the draw?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor W:
From your photos, I would say you need to slow the drying down. 8/4, in many species, is a little tricky because in has to dry very slowly. The photos even show honeycomb because of the fast drying, if that end grain photo was just cut.

From the original questioner:
The board in question revealing the end grain was just cut; however, it was taken from the from the air dried, stickered stack and is at 24% MC. Other than infusing moisture, I don't know how I could go slower. There was little to no air movement; and the temps have been no higher than 50F around here.

From contributor W:
What was the relative humidity?

From the original questioner:
RH runs around 40 to 50% between November and April in northern IL.

From contributor W:
That's 7% to 9% - pretty aggressive for 8/4. Next time, I would load it in the kiln and cut the compressor time in half. What schedule did you use? Was it for 8/4 oak?

From the original questioner:
Yeah. I was using the white oak schedule; I figured similar specific gravity, etc. I should have gone with 6/4 on the milling - would have given more room for error.