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Looking for advice on how to cut up a large piece of Alaskan Yellow Cedar


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I've got a sizeable piece of Alaskan Yellow Cedar - about 8" x 10" and maybe 10 feet long.  It's rough sawn.

 

I've contemplated cutting it up into shorter lengths and then into usable wood for future projects, but not sure about what size, or whether I should even bother until I have a specific need.   I could cut and mill it down into say 4" x 4" blanks for later cutting into thinner/narrower pieces, but then I'm not sure about what length to cut.  Syren Ship Model Company sells pre-cut pieces, mostly only 14" long, and I'm not sure if 14" is because all they had were short pieces of wood, or 14" is more than versatile for anything you do.

 

Any advice?

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I use 15" long at Syren because that is the length of my laser cutter bed.  Actually its 16" but I like to use 15" long sheets on the laser.  Other than masts it is unlikely you would ever need a piece longer than that.  That is if you plank with scale lengths which  follows actual practice.   Best to keep widths to around 4" to 5" because any sheets you mill that are wider have the tendency to cup.  Narrower sheets are more resistant to this.   But in the end its up to you.

 

Chuck

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I buy most of my wood as rough stock. At the lumber yard, the minimum length is 8 feet.  Early on, I kept my stock in 4 foot lengths.  For processing, I cut those into 16 inch lengths.  I found this not to be all that convenient for framing - running out of board too quickly - too many pieces needed and more work for a thickness sander. 

Now, my sweet spot is 2 feet.  Much longer and it would be too long for my bench.  The sanded planks also fit in an Aviditi 3" x 3" x 25" mailing box for storage.  The shorter boxes are not much less in cost, so there is economy there. 

In your place, I would rip the log into 10" x 2" x 24" planks.

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initially you need to find a freind with a bandsaw to cut up your big beam into workable size pieces. maybe buck it into 2 5' long and then slice the wood into 1'' planks. Maybe leave one piece as a block in case you want to carve something. I had some 4'x8' red cedar that I carved into some very handsome native half model canoes. Then with your one inch planks go down to your modeling sized planks. After each slice with the bandsaw Id run the rough cut board over a planer to get one good flat side to work from. Also plane your stock block each time for the same purpose. After doing all this sawing you find out why precut modeling wood is so expensive. Cut you modeling planks from the one inch planks through the one inch thickness. You probably dont need Thin sheets. I'll try to get on here later with some picks. You have a very valuable piece of wood there my freind. How did you come by a piece of wood like that?

 

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Posted (edited)

I’d bandsaw it into 1in thick planks in whatever lengths you find to be convenient,  and stack it up indoors.  Put spacers between each board and it’s neighbor in the stack to let air circulate.  I would saw it into ship model sized pieces on an as needed basis.

 

Roger

Edited by Roger Pellett
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Posted (edited)

Sheesh! 8"X10"X10' is a nice bit of timber, if it's straight grained and clear of knots and pitch pockets, which AYC frequently is. Note that there are various grades of AYC. For modeling, you want "clear, vertical grained, appearance grade." (Which, of course, is the most expensive.) AYC can be knotty, so you should decide whether your timber is suitable for modeling stock before worrying about how you are going to cut it up. Unless you live close to where AYC is harvested (Yes, some of us are that lucky. It's not hard to find in the Northern Pacific Coast,) just shipping it someplace is going to add a lot to the value of it anywhere else. Two four foot pieces are going to cost less than one eight foot piece.

 

Given your question, I expect you aren't aware that timber that size is probably a lot more valuable than a bunch of two foot long billets. Guys that mill thin sheets of wood from timbers that size to use for laser cutting many parts on a sheet, like kit manufacturers do, suffer the cost of the wasted wood in milling and scrap and have to pass that on to their customers. If you aren't in that league, I think milling large sized quality wood into sheets is wasteful. Keep in mind the scale  you are working in and what the scale-size of the trees would be if they were to the same scale as the model. The end result is that for model building you really don't need wood in larger pieces at all. (Save perhaps masts, as Chuck noted.)

 

Fact is, somebody would likely pay a lot more for that timber in one piece than you'd ever save cutting it up into scrap wood sizes. If it's clear grade, it's perfect for a keel timber for a small boat, for example. I'd check around and see if you can swap it with a local specialty lumberyard for some "small stuff" at a lower price. You'd probably make more money on the deal than you'd save cutting it up yourself and you wouldn't have to do the heavy duty milling yourself, either. Ripping a timber that size will take a good size bandsaw and some experienced help and a saw up to the task. It's not a one-man job. 

 

Modelers should keep their eyes out for large construction jobs using AYC. Often, off-cuts from the job site dumpster can be had for free. 

 

These guys are selling clear AYC 1.5" X 1.5" X  1' S4S "deck pickets" for twenty-five cents a piece. It may cause you to find a higher and better use for that big long beam of yours. https://www.lowpricedcedar.com/product/alaskan-yellow-cedar-clear-smooth-2x2-1/

 

 AYC2211-e1548885062865.jpg

 

Just my opinion. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Edited by Bob Cleek
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