Kiln Drying Services

Kiln Drying Services Raleigh

Drying Wood at Oak City Customs

Lumber Kiln Drying Services

Before starting a project with wood, the wood must first be properly dried. At Oak City Customs, 100% of our slabs have been kiln dried. We currently operate 2, custom built, de-humidification style kilns, with a total capacity of over 11,000 board feet per month!

Once dried, our average moisture level will be between 6%-8%, with a max allowance of 12%, making all our wood furniture grade!

Kiln Rates:

$1 per board feet of material, if over 1,000 total board feet

$2 per board feet of material, if under 1,000 total board feet

Board Feet(BDFT) = L" x W" x T" /144

Kiln Drying, Milling & More

Our Urban Lumber Process

We would love to help turn your lumber into a beautiful furniture project! Below is a bit of information about this process and the costs associated with each step. If you don't want to read all of this, skip to the end and check out 'Whats the Skinny?!'

Cutting down and moving the lumber to Oak City Customs...

We can recommend Nathan at R&L Tree Service - +1 (919) 649-0599 for any needs related to cutting down or removal of standing trees. We have been working with R&L for many years and they do an excellent and professional job! We will also use R&L to move logs that are already on the ground.

  • R&L can generally transport logs from a site to our shop for $500-$1000 per load (which is a lot of logs, up to 30,000lbs!)

We will coordinate with them to make this pickup happen for you!

  • They will need to be able to drive up near the logs as they use a truck with a grapple claw to load them.
  • The ground will need to be dry and ideally they can get to the logs from the street or an unpaved area, the log truck is heavy and could possibly crack a driveway. 

What makes a good log or log pile?

  • Ideally logs that are in the range of at least 20-24"diameter on the small end of the log.
  • Smaller diameter logs end up being mostly waste, but it is possible to make good wood if you have smaller material. Logs under 12" diameter are firewood for sure. 
  • Not rotted.
  • Does not have embedded metal such as a fence or lots of nails from signs.
  • Ideally the logs are only from the trunk. Branches tend to have wood grain with a lot of internal stresses and don't make as good lumber.
  • At least 6-8' long. Ideal length is 8-14'.
  • Ideal length is also that all logs are the same length so your stack of cut lumber is nice and neat.
  • Logs are stacked off the ground on top of other wood like 4x4's or tree limb material. 
  • Logs are accessible to trucks.

Logs have been moved to Oak City Customs, now what?!

Once the logs are here at our facility we will tag them with your name by either waterproof tags that are nailed into the log ends, or by painting the log ends with a color that is specific to you (paint if you have a lot of logs, like more than 5-10).

We will then discuss a cut plan with you based on what products you want to make later.

  • We can make a lot of different product and will want to cut lumber based on the end result, for example:
  • Dining table = 3.25" thick lumber or greater at the sawmill
  • Wall paneling = 1.25" thick lumber or greater at the sawmill

Once we have a cut plan, we will run the logs through the milling process and then sticker stack the cut lumber on white oak sticks for air drying!

  • What the heck is a sticker stack?!
  • We use white oak sticks that are .75" x 1.5" to go horizontally between all boards to give air space to move around the lumber for air drying to occur. White Oak is the best material for this because its a waterproof wood and wont result in 'sticker staining' a possible staining effect in the surface of the wood that happens when drying lumber with wet sticks. 

Cost to cut lumber really depends on a lot of factors such as wood type, number of cuts per log, log size, etc...

A good rule of thumb is the cost will be around $1 per board foot (12" x 12" x 1" of cut lumber), or a few hundred dollars per log.

We can give a more accurate quote upon receiving the logs and discussing your cut plan! 

  • Cut and sticker stacked lumber ideally will air dry for about 1 year per inch of thickness to the center of the wood (3" board air dries for 1.5 years).
  • If you pay for kiln drying at the time we have completed sawing, we will air dry your material at no charge.

We've got a lumber stack, what now?

Ideally after air drying has occurred, your lumber will be moved into one of our dehumidification kilns for further conditioning.

The goal in the kiln is to get your wood down to 6-8% moisture so that it is the same MC (moisture content) as the climate in your space.

  • Properly dried wood will be dimensionally stable and not change size when it enters your climate controlled space. By drying properly we minimize the amount of wood movement, cracking, or other issues. 

By air drying the wood we dont have to work as hard in the kiln, and we are able to make better lumber with less waste. We can air dry from 'green' meaning from freshly cut wood, the process just takes a lot longer, up to 3x the kiln time.

Cost in the kiln is $1/bdft if over 1000bdft or $2/bdft if under 1000bdft!

Cost is per kiln cycle which is 30-45 days for cycle 1, then 30 days for each next 'cycle'! 

Properly air dried wood will generally take 1 cycle!

  • Once wood comes out of the kiln its ready to work with and its time to start your project!

Kiln dried lumber is ready, lets build something!

  • Once the lumber is dry we will start our process by putting the wood through our planer so it is flat and usable for your project. This is called surfacing two sides (S2S), where we are cutting wood off the faces of the board (wide sides) to get flat stock to use and also to be able to see what the wood looks like. 
  • From here we can evaluate which wood is good for your project and what you may want to do with any extra material. 
  • Often the cost to plane the wood is wrapped into the labor and other costs to build your project. It will depend on how much extra material you might have. 
  • By this point or at this point we will work on CAD drawings of your items to finalize all details and then begin production. 

Ok, that's a lot to read, What's the Skinny!? on this?

We find that the cost of processing your wood into usable lumber generally ends up around $3/bdft if you have more than 1000 bdft (closer to $2 if more than 10k bdft) or around $4.50/bdft if you have less than 1000bdft. 

  • This estimate is very generalized and as you can see above, there are a lot of factors that impact price and the process. 
  • If you had (5) 10' logs at 20" diameter I would estimate you may have 750 bdft of cut lumber and spent about $3,000 to move it through the process. That is enough wood for about 4 dining room tables. That would potentially be half the retail amount to buy the lumber. 

How many bdft are in my log? 

  • (Radius^2 x 3.14 x length in inches) / 144 x 60% = net bdft after sawing
  • From the example above -------   (((10" ^2 x 3.14) x 120") / 144) x 60% = 157bdft

We know this is a lot of information but hope this gives you a good idea of the process and some things to consider. It can be an investment of both time and money to create lumber from your trees, but we know its a worthwhile and rewarding process that results in a truly unique furniture piece that will live on well after the tree is gone. We look forward to discussing your project further. Let us know if you are ready to take the next step.