Washing Fresh-Cut Lumber

Washing excess sawdust off boards should be no problem. But why not used compressed air, or just a broom? November 28, 2006

My neighbor cleared some land and I ended up with some really nice red oak 20Ē logs. I quarter-sawed one yesterday, and I will cut up the next one tonight. I air dry in a room off my shop. It works well, but there is a lot of sawdust still stuck to the boards, and when finally next year I use the lumber, I'll end up cleaning up a lot more than usual. Is there any reason not to wash the boards off with the hose right after cutting them? I stack/sticker them right away, so I donít think itís going to hurt them. As long as they arenít dead stacked, should they be okay?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor F:
It shouldn't hurt anything, but why not just take a piece of a sticker wider than the board, turn it at an angle to the board, and with down pressure, go from one end of the board to the other? It will remove almost all the sawdust, and then you don't have to deal with wet boards and extra moisture in your shop.

From the original questioner:
I don't have a band mill. I cut all my stuff with a ms066 and a Granberg mill. Slow, but I only cut 1000' a year; and I like doing it. So my cuts are a little rough.

From contributor D:
Some folks will sweep the sawdust off. Washing should work on wet lumber. Another thought: if you have compressed air close by, blow the dust off.

From contributor B:
I too cut all my boards with an 066 (Logosol) and when the sawdust dries, most will blow away if you are air drying outside. Otherwise, once dry, it will sweep, blow or wipe away real easy. A lot could slow drying somewhat. I usually sweep it off if there is a lot. Otherwise, turn the hose on it if you want. Won't hurt a thing. I have cut with water - seems to cut a bit faster, although messier. I have a 1/4" drip irrigation hose attached to a shutoff valve attached to a garden hose and I dribble water onto the bar next to the motor as I cut. Vibration sends the water all over the bar and it lubes and cuts real cool.

From contributor L:
A bit of a tangent to this thread, but I have often thought low pressure water lube would be an excellent accessory to chainsaw milling. They now have carbide chainsaws that cut concrete with a water hose hooked up to the bar to remove dust.

From contributor B:
I picked up an old Stihl 084 that had been greatly overheated and the oiler pump area damaged. It oils okay with the bar vertical, but when on its side, as in milling, it does not oil well. As a result, I could not mill with it. I tried the water method and milled all day long with it. It works really well and seems to speed up sawing on dry logs.

From the original questioner:
How did you rig the drip?

From contributor B:
Bought a brass coupling with threads to attach to common water hose reducing to 1/4" vinyl connector. Attached about 20' of 1/4" hose commonly used in drip irrigation to it. (I drag this instead of the large garden hose.) On my saw carriage, I attached a 1/4" valve with quick-disconnect and attached about 12" of the same hose to the other side of the valve so I could use it to direct the stream to where I wanted it - right in the center of the bar where it comes out of the saw. I adjust the water flow to what works well, usually about 3/16". That's just past the "drip" stage. It makes a good mess of sawdust on the boards, but I use a 12" brush to sweep it off or let it dry and it comes off real easy.

From contributor J:
I was using my 066 and Granberg mill to cut some cherry the past two days. I just sweep off the sawdust from each board before I sticker and stack. This is my second year using the mill and I enjoy it, but it is slow and quite a workout (I am 60). I am real jealous of the bandmill guys (maybe I'll get one when I grow up). How do you quarter saw with this setup? I have thought about quarter sawing but can't imagine how to proceed. I flat saw the top and both edges (16" width of boards yesterday) and then flat saw down.

From the original questioner:
Thereís a lot of info on the web about quarter sawing. But in general, and it varies on the size of the log, I would not use the same steps to cut a 27Ē oak as I would to do a 14Ē. Mostly because I think itís best to stick with a bar of 24Ē or less for chain saw milling and you can vary the steps on larger logs just to keep the bar size down.

First thing, get the log up on some 4x4 or 6x6. This way you can roll it back and forth a bit. If itís a small log, maybe this is not an issue, but my back thanks me for this step. I make a first cut on the top of the log. I donít care about getting into the heartwood at this point - I just want a flat run across the log. If you can get a cut through the middle of the log, do it. Itís just not always possible with larger logs.

Then a little log rolling and a bar clamp or two holds the two piece log back together. Slicing the thing in half again, you should have 4 exact quarters if you were careful and squared and leveled while making your cuts. Now you just follow the old one - saw cut this side, flip and on the other side. Itís a lot more time consuming than flat sawing, but the results are well worth it. Just try to make sure your cuts are 90 degrees to the rings.

From contributor H:
We stack a lot of lumber on a regular basis. Cut with different types of sawmills. We use a small electric two broom power scrubber. It solved a lot of issues.