3 Inch Thick Rough Cut Oak Slabs

glimmOctober 5, 2007

I have just aquired 2 stacks, waist high of rough cut oak, 12"-18" wide x 3" thick with random lengths up to 12' long. Wood is about 20 or 30 years old, some with bark still on. I was wondering best thing to do with it.

Have it milled professionaly and store or sell what I don't want, cut in half thickness wise, hand power plane it myself. Maybe leave it as is and sell it? Any response to this or suggestions appreciated. Any ideas of the value would be great. Already called one mill in MA and was told the slabs were fairly rare due to the width and thickness.

Thank so much.

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Best to me would be the best use---or the best sale price.

Would make great flooring.

Trying to hand power plane any board will be an exercise in frustration---hand power planers are not the tool for that. A lunchbox planer is also a bit small or light duty as well.

Even as old as it is, the wood will require drying when cut---the current pieces are more moist on the inside than the exterior.

If you need flooring, it woulkd be worth it to have that wood cut and milled. If someone you need needs flooring, they might pay enough for you to profit well.

Paying for milling will not add much to the profit, but milling and using would be a good deal versus buying.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 12:17AM
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There's nothing wrong with leaving them in their current state, and if you don't want to use them yourself, it's probably best to sell them as-is; you don't know what someone will want to make from them. I agree with handymac that it would be fairly pointless to thickness them just for selling. The hand-held power planer idea is a non-starter.

It would be worth figuring out just what you've got. Is it white oak or red? How many knots, cracks or other defects are there? Do you have any way to measure the moisture content? These sorts of details have a big impact on its value.

It's also worth storing properly. Do you know how it was stored before you got it? If it was in an unheated barn then Handymac is right again; the MC will be too high for immediate use. If it were stored in a hot attic, it might be in great shape. In any case it should be stacked with spacers between boards to allow air circulation, ideally in a place that's either air-conditioned or kept about 25 degrees warmer than the morning low outdoor temperature.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 6:28AM
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3 inches thick is going to need about 2-3 years to air dry, and there will likely be significant loss if it is not handled correctly.
There are many places to obtain information about air drying wood.
Waiting to get started will further reduce the yield of usable wood.
In hot weather checking can start within just a few days.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 10:02AM
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I asked a friend (who will remain nameless) who's a buyer of lumber for commercial and retail market. This is his reply:

ItâÂÂs really hard to say. If the lumber is white oak it will be far more valuable in the present market than red oak. Many mills are not even cutting red oak right now since there is virtually no commercial market for the lumber. What inventory is in the market is being sold at or below replacement cost. I have seen truck-load quotes in the last 90-days at below $1.00/bf for both 4/4 and 5/4 #1 common, the lumber most frequently sold to manufacturers.

White oak is another story, though the market there is nowhere near historical levels�"the greatest value is in quarter-sawn material. I would also suggest that, while theses widths are nice, they are not exceptional, especially for flat-sawn lumber. The fact that the lumber is 12/4 is also a mixed bag, The commercial value of oak this thick is limited�"more so if we are talking red oak. White oak may have some appeal among boat builders; but, âÂÂup to 12â longâ implies some shorter boards and that limits the appeal in this market.

There is also the matter of condition. Oak, white and red, are highly subject to sticker-stain. Depending on how this lumber has been stacked it could be anything from desirable to firewood. For example, I was recently offered (and rejected) over 700 board feet of 4/4 quarter-sawn white oak with an average width of nearly 9â (quite good for Q-S) that had been improperly stacked for air-drying. The resulting sticker stain goes completely through the boards resulting in a rather odd and very noticeable âÂÂstripeâ across each board at regular intervals. Even at 0.60/bf the lumber is little more than firewood for us. It may have value to box builders; but, 700bf will make a lot of boxes.

The bottom line is that if this lumber was within a Saturday or Sunday drive of my home I would probably go and look at it. If it is white oak, grades at least F1F (First one face), has no sticker stain, and there is no evidence of powder post beetles, I might to as high as 1.20. Even so, assuming âÂÂstandardâ bunks, we are talking 800 to 1000 board feet per stack. ThatâÂÂs a bunch of 12/4 lumber�"without a market for these thicknesses I would be tying up a fair âÂÂinvestmentâ for a long time.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 11:30AM
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Thanks for the replys. I just picked up the wood today.
The wood is NOT 3" like I was told, but in fact is 2" and over with the thickest about 2-1/2". I am a little bummed about it, but it is what it is.
It appears to be Red Oak. It has been stacked with spacers in a non heated garage in MA for about 20 years. All the boards appear to be straight and not the least bit twisted. No sign of insects when hand loading onto truck. Board lengths between 2' and 10'. Some real nice 8'-10' slabs.
All widths over 16" with some around 22".
Total of 2 stacks about 3' high. That is all I know.

Thanks for responding.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 1:34PM
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"Wood is about 20 or 30 years old..."

Sorry I missed that the first time.

If you cannot use it try and sell it locally.
Call around for what local prices are.
Most smaller places use higher grade then large manufacturers.
The big guys have the equipment to efficiently rip down and glue back up to make large panels with very few defects.
It takes a lot of work in a smaller shop, so many buy better grades to reduce the amount of labor for large panel production.
The big guys also make enough items to use up the lower grades in a large delivery for carcase framing.
While drawers may need wider panels, the front framework on a carcase between drawers is not very wide.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 3:44PM
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Red oak slabs with the bark left on does not bode well- beware bug damage.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2007 at 9:44PM
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