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Advice on how to produce your own modelling timber from logs

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I have acquired a small selection of logs: one each of cherry, whitebeam and birch. Each log is about 200 mm diameter and they vary in length from about 900-1500 mm. I realise that they will need to be dried before I can use them and I understand that the best way to speed this process along is to slice the logs into planks and then to stack them with spacers to allow air movement around and between the pieces of timber.


Although I have a small chainsaw i don't really have the facilities to slice these logs myself. I phoned our local saw mill, who said they would charge £50 per hour to mill the logs for me and that, if their blade was broken because of something in the wood, I would be charged for a new blade as well. These logs may not be of great quality and it just doesn't look cost effective to me to pay a minimum of £50 plus possibly a great deal more if I'm unlucky.


Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can slice these logs cheaply?


As a secondary question what is the best slicing pattern to use? Should I just go for a simple stack of planks like slices of bread or would it be better to slice them to get as many radial boards as possible?



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Check out these two topics and see if they answer many of your questions: http://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/759-making-your-own-hobby-wood/  &  http://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/822-milling-my-own-wood/


Also:  http://mysite.verizon.net/ELLshipmodeler/ has several articles on this topic.


There's other sites out there specifically for harvesting and milling wood, but these should get you started.

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

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Do you have a bandsaw?

If you have not done this already, seal the log ends with wax or paint.

The logs are about 200mm or about 7.5 inches dia.. How thick a plank were you looking for?

I don't think that paying them to cut the wood would work out very well for you. Instead ask them if they have any rough planks the size the you are looking for.

On your wood how are you thinking about cutting everything down to size after it's dry??

In other words what tools do you have?


Later 42rocker

Current Build -- Finishing a 1:1 House that I've been building for a while

Current Build -- Triton Cross Section

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Hi 42rocker,


I have a small chainsaw and a brand new Byrnes table saw. Also a selection of handsaws of various types and sizes, including a bow saw. However slicing logs lengthways with any of these will be effectively impossible (which is why I contacted the mill). My thoughts were to slice the logs into roughly 25 mm planks, probably quarter-sawn.


Once I have the 25 mm planks I can store them in my loft for a year or so to dry. After that I can slice them to suitable modelling sizes using the Byrnes saw.


I wondered about buying wood in locally, but the only common timber around here is beech, which I don't like for it's grain, hardness and general unsuitability for small pieces. At least that's my opinion.


Perhaps my logs will have to be firewood after all (cutting into small logs is easy with the chain saw)....



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Rob perhaps if you cut them into shorter lengths then you could first of all split them in half with and ax and a small heavy hammer.

Take say an 16 inch pieces which is approx 600 mm place the axe squarely across the centre of the log and hit the back of the axe with the hammer this will split the log lengthwise into two halves, take each of the halves and split them up into quarters. you can then set your axe to a position that is about 30mm  parallel to one of the first split faces and repeat the splitting. I have done this on quite a few occasions, and the advantage is that the wood slits along the grain which relieves some of the inherent stresses the wood dries quite well this way.


Here is a series of pictures that i just took perhaps 15 minutes worth of time to cut a 200mm log of wet aspen

 sorry I did not have any other on hand.



1 chainsawed the knot off the end


2 chainsawed about 14 inches of straight grain


3 Set axe across centre.


4use hammer to split wood


5 two halves ready to be quartered


6 set axe to approx 30mm and split again


7 and again


8 veiw showing the quarter cutting no sawdust yet other than the chainsaw


9 Piece clamped ready to smooth out a little prior to sticking


 few wet shavings the piece is ready to dry.


Ron think about how long you really need the wood to be, most of us cut the wood up into shorter lengths anyway and a 12 -15 inch 300 to 400 mm length is easy to split with an axe.


I hope this helps. good luck with the wood.





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Wow Michael

Nice photo share. Hand plane it smooth. Where was my thinking cap??

Thanks Again for sharing your great ideas.

Another note if your wood does not split nice. I have used a chain saw and cut the wood just like Michael split it. Hint if you go to split Sweet Gum, or Red Gum use a chain saw. Having split a few pieces of wood in my life. I thought that it would be easy to do. Buried two splitting mauls then any old broken handle axe head then finally used another axe to finish the job. I used a chain saw on the rest of the pieces. The grain twists big time. Grandfather used to live just outside of International Falls, Minn and during the summer I used to go up and help him out getting wood ready for the wood burning stove that they used for heating. Yes, I've split a cord or two or three.


Later 42rocker

Edited by 42rocker

Current Build -- Finishing a 1:1 House that I've been building for a while

Current Build -- Triton Cross Section

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Thanks for the pic's Michael,


As opposed to quarter sawn, you have quarter split wood planks and by splitting the grain integrity is preserved. Split as Michael shows should also make planing easier as the more radial the split and the more with the grain, the better the plane slices, making it easier to smooth without dig in. Of course this is wood dependent as 42rocker states.Straight grained woods more readily lend them selves to processing like this. For example Oak vs Elm, Elm being very crossed grain. but again for this reason Elm is used in many chair seats though.





and if your going to do alot of spilting planks a froe is a handy tool with more control then an axe or hatchet. The froe design, blade placement with respect to the handle alows the handle to be used to pry the wood apart. this also allows longer pieces to be worked.


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  • 3 weeks later...

I would like to reinforce the need to end seal as the wood diess. I dry my own wood for other projects I get the best results cutting in the winter drying at least till the following fall with the bark on and the end sealed. My wood dries under cover but not temperature controlled


The end seal "ruins" about 1/4 to 1/2" of the ends so cut longer than you need.

Drown you may, but go you must and your reward shall be a man's pay or a hero's grave

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