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Whitethorn's Wood Drying FAQs

Do we have experience with air dried hardwood?

Yes, we are very committed to air drying. We have worked with eastern kiln dried lumber like everyone else, prior to using our native California hardwoods here in Whitethorn. There are very few hardwood kilns in California and 35 years ago there were far fewer than today. We began with only air dried hardwood to build cabinets, furniture and related fixtures. We have been using our air dried and then kiln dried stock for decades now.

Do we air dry hardwood before kiln drying?

Yes, and we learned the pros and cons of air dried lumber. The most important positive value was the way the wood felt. Wood that is only air dried has a "feel" unlike that of commercially kiln dried hardwood. Commercially kiln dried wood is dried not by woodworkers but by entrepreneurs. Capital investment demands speed in drying and the results show themselves when the woodworker mills them. We have made it our job to offer a product that mimics our own experience with air dried wood. There is nothing quite like hardwood that has been dried slowly and thoroughly. We use our own air dried and then kiln dried stock for our own products and now offer it to others.

How long do we air dry our hardwood?

The general rule of thumb in drying is one year for the first one inch, three years for the second inch and 5 years for third inch of thickness. The thicker the raw stock the longer it takes for the captive moisture in the cells to leave the wood. Free water, be it rain or simple humidity, leaves the wood easily. Captive water needs to be nursed from the wood gradually. Remember that this is a rule of thumb and that it can vary with specie and experience.

Do we offer green or air dried wood for sale?

Our goal is to mill or buy green wood and to add the value of air drying and kiln drying. However, we do occasionally offer green wood for sale. This is mostly true with slabs. We have also sold whole logs that we mill to the buyers specs. We will consider selling green or air dried stock; this is a point of discussion.

Is all kiln drying the same?

No, there are different kinds of kilns and different kinds of kiln schedules. The purpose of one's drying will dictate the type of kiln one should use. Beyond the type of kiln is the use of that kiln. The kiln operator has many possibilities before him. Because we are seeking a thoroughly kiln dried product that 'feels' different from standard kiln dried products we dry our wood extremely slowly.

What is different about the results of your kiln drying?

Slow drying yields a product that is more balanced than quickly dried stock. Slow drying allows the wood to mature. If a board is dried too quickly it will be case hardened or approach a case hardening level. The result is a board that is harder to machine. The result may be that it "binds" onto itself as it is run threw the table saw. When that same board is run threw the resaw it will cup and bow. A properly dried hardwood will not react that way.

What is case hardening?

Case hardening happens when the wood has been dried too quickly. Surface cells have lost their water and taken a set. The captive water in the cells has not been able to leave the wood evenly over time. The cells in the center of the board are not as dry as those closer to the surface. Unevenly dried wood will react in ways that woodworkers will not appreciate. Any differential between the cells will lead to a different 'feel' when milling. The board may not cup or bow when sawn but it still may retain a 'hardness' of feel to the woodworker use to working with wood that has been dried more slowly and evenly.

Whitethorn FAQs:

We often field questions about a variety of elements in our wood processing operations. The FAQs (Frequently Asked Qustions) linked to below address the most common questions we receive.

Whitethorn's Log Milling FAQs

Whitethorn's Wood DryingFAQs

Whitethorn's Hardwood Flooring FAQs


We are woodworkers first and wood merchants second

Our supplies are limited - Our hours are variable
Please call ahead for an appointment

Whitethorn Hardwoods: a division of Whitethorn Construction
P.O. Box 400, Whitethorn, CA 95589
707 / 986-7412