Sawing for Stable 2x Lumber

Advice on selecting log dimension and cut patterns in order to get straight, stable 2x4 and 2x6 lumber from Southern Pine logs. November 16, 2011

I live in north central Arkansas. Yesterday was the first of many spring storms. I have only cut hardwood but have some pine too close to the shop that I am cutting this weekend before spring storms come. I don't have a need for the wood at this time so I don't have a cut list.

I need input on cutting SYP to produce quality. I would like to know where should 1xs be cut versus 2xs? Wide stuff from center or outside? Pith seems to be usable from looking at other lumber. Should everything be centered bases on juvenile wood like Doc says for hardwood, or can a flitch be cut into three 2x4s, 1 centered and 2 off-centered, without severe warp? I plan to air dry. Trees are 11" to 14" DBH 30' to 50' to first limb. I plan to buck 10' 4".

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor A:
The size boards that you cut should come from logs that are 1 1/2 times larger than the board. What that means is a 12" log makes 8" boards. Try to keep the pith centered on the boards. Just do not cut a 24" log all into 2x4's. They will not be good boards. The only thing you need to learn is to see compression wood. It is easy to spot once you know what you are looking for. One key feature is the pith is way off center.

If you fell the logs now you have about 3 months to saw up the logs before the bugs get bad. Just stack them off the ground on some limbs and stack them loosely or spread out on the ground. Do not worry about blue stain as it does not hurt the lumber.

From contributor M:
Every tree/log is an individual. Their growing habitat usually will determine what the lumber will do. Compression wood and stress will do strange and sometimes bad things. If I'm sawing framing lumber with no immediate use, I sometimes saw 2X12's and sticker them. It then can be sawed into 2X4's, 2X6's and 2X8's later.

From contributor A:

This photo is not the way to make 2x4's. I was sawing them because the customer wanted it done that way, but most of them will bow and not be good for building. I know they look good and it seems like a fast way to make a bunch of them, but they are not good boards. A 7 inch pine log makes the best 2x4's. You will get two 1x4's and three 1 5/8 x 4's that will be good boards. One of the 2x4's will have the pith centered and the other two will be just above and below. They will dry and stay straight. A 9 inch log will make six of them but after that you should be looking at bigger boards. Keeping the pith centered of the board is key to making good lumber.

From contributor R:
If a customer brings in a poplar or SYP around 15" and wants 1X6's, 1X8's or 1X10's, how would you go about cutting that or would you suggest another size?

From contributor A:
If you have a 15 inch log, you can cut it to a width of 6 inches by taking boards off of two sides so you end up with the 6 inches centered on the log. From the sides you may cut 1x4's, then 1x6's, then 1x8's and that should put you close to your target. But if you take the 15 inch log and square it up at 12 inches wide and then split it in half to make your 1x6's they will bow to the middle of the log.

Tell the customer what will happen but if they know more than you and want it sawn that way, then saw it that way. But if you want to make good lumber to sell, saw good boards.