O, the weather this week’s been frightful, but the Cedar is delightful.
Since it’s been air drying for years , let it kiln, let it kiln, let it kiln…
We’re feeling jolly, can you tell?
Well, it’s been murky old January week here at Cocking Sawmills so by all accounts we should be down in the dumps. But no, not us! Instead we’ve been unloading and reloading the big kiln with Cedar.
Which is exactly the sort of thing that puts a smile on our faces.
Go on Graham… smile for the nice camera.
So now we’ve got that newly loaded kiln feeling. Which is a bit like the feeling you get when you’ve been to the supermarket and have come home with bags of really great ingredients and you just can’t wait to get cooking… and eating!
A new kiln charge means change too. It’s a refresh. Reboot. It means change of status for the boards. Air dried becomes kiln dried, wood changes purpose. Input of new stock means moving timber stacks to make room. Refreshing the layout. Uncovering the gems sitting at bottoms of the pile. Rotating boule stock in the yard reboots the drying process and sometimes, just sometimes reveals a new patch of wild strawberries !
(See the our boule stock)
This time we’re loading the big kiln with Cedar of Lebanon and within that load is a typical Cedar boule. A proper giant. 3.5m long by 1.0m wide… and that’s not just the centre boards, just take a look!
In this picture, Graham and Paul (both normal size human beings) are positioning themselves either side of the boule in an effort to show you the scale of the enormity of the thing!!
They look vaguely cheerful don’t they? And very smart too we thought 😉
So this monster has been air drying at the top of the yard for a couple of years now. We’ve been patient. We’ve been passing it by every day inhaling the perfume as it sits on it’s bearers gently simmering in the South Downs climate.
This was the day it was delivered to the mill along with other monster Cedar of Lebanon logs that were actually part of one tree…
And this is it (or part of it – it had to be in 3 parts because it was too big to lift otherwise) freshly sawn, clean, smelling gorgeous and just beginning life as a raw material…
but today is the day it finally measures up (or down… it needs to be 16/17 – 21/22 % moisture content) to kiln worthiness.
Boy have we been patient?! You have no idea how many times we’ve tested the moisture content on this’un, longing to kiln it to see how those huge boards are going to turn out.
We have to be so patient with our wood, it’s downright painful.
Especially when we’re on a mission, browsingthe air dried yard on the hunt for the perfect board for a customer spec, and we find mouth-watering boules of burry London Plane or gnarly character Elm that would make someone seriously happy… but.. BUT…. system says they’re not going to be ready for another 3 years.
3 whole years.
Well, good things come to those that wait… and we must wait until mother nature has done her thing.
Otherwise all that growing, living, habitat forming, biodiversity encouraging, shade creating, water absorbing, carbon sequestering, carbon dioxide & monoxide neutralising and clean air producing that our tree has done in it’s first life will be wasted if we mess up this effort to give the tree a second life as wood for somebodies table, chairs, kitchen, floor, house or even spoon.
Know what we mean?
It might sound like we’re stating the obvious, but for us, slow, gentle seasoning of timber is the key to quality furniture and joinery. It’s the key to stability and the behaviour of the wood. It’s not everything but it’s a really good start.
We’re endeavouring – by only felling whilst sap is down, by buying amazing trees and logs, by letting logs sit prior to cutting, by sawing between autumnal equinox & vernal equinox (not the other way round!), by shielding from extremes, by sticking properly and quickly after cutting, by keeping boules tacks balanced end evenly loaded and by generally fussing over our logs and boules day in day out*.
Patience is a virtue they say, so at least we’re getting lots of practice at being virtuous!
It sounds corny but the reward is knowing we have done the right thing. Knowing by being patient and fussing and caring we’ll produce well seasoned wood that will perform as it should for it’s next purpose. So we get to offset some of the good karma and virtuousness by being a bit proud about the wood we hand over and pass down the line to all the makers, builders, designers and craftspeople out there who care about such things.
It’ll be another 4 weeks (more being patient!) until we get to open these big ole kiln doors and see how it all turned out but in the meantime we have you, our busy customers, to keep our minds off those big boards…
Why not take pity on us and send us a few cutting lists to quote on to keep us occupied 🙂
This is the kind of thing we hope we’ll see inside our big boule, creamy yellow colouring, some pinky hues and strong grain, not much of a sap line, lots of character including flecky grey / green streaks, a real mix of knot sizes and maybe even the odd whopper to remind is that it had enormous branches as well as an enormous girth!
Like the look of this board? Have a look at Cedar boards that have already been through the kiln.
Want to see super wide boards? Here’s an assortment to rummage through
* You think we’re exaggerating… for example Peter cannot leave a kiln more than 24 hours without checking readings… even at Christmas! Yup, sorry about that Hall Family…
MORE on Cedar of Lebanon
Cedar of Lebanon on the Wood Blog
History alert! Here’s a picture of our very own Peter Hall with the then boss, George Marchand in the early 80’s, charging a kiln… the very same kiln… the very same Peter!