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New members wanted for London milling venture

PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2016 1:29 pm
by Jeff Segal
We're looking for new team members to join our south London-based urban milling venture, We produce quality sawn hardwoods from trees felled in and around London that would otherwise be destroyed, air-dry them in our Dulwich premises and sell them to cabinetmakers and joiners.

Ideally you'll be a qualified chainsaw operator who can work with us on our Alaskan mill, but if you can bring your own milling equipment into the group then so much the better. The work takes place at the felling site, so we have to transport the boards to the yard and stack them there. Jobs are occasional - more frequent during the autumn and winter - so it's very much a part-time occupation. But every member gets a share of the income from selling the timber we mill.

You can see what we do at If you're interested, click on the CONTACT US tab on the website and drop us an email. Or just post a reply here on the SWOG forum.


Jeff Segal, Paul Shrubshall, Rod Sazio and Angus Hanton

Re: New members wanted for London milling venture

PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 8:56 pm
by oldclaypaws
Its an interesting concept and I wish you good luck with the venture, there's certainly an interesting variety of timber growing in urban environments.

One technical question, you say you're aiming to air dry timber and sell it to joiners and cabinet makers. In the beech cutting video you talk about how you hope the moisture content will come down to 10% through air drying.

In my experience, as someone who now mills timber for a living, air dried timber stored under cover outdoors will only come down to the ambient environmental moisture level of usually no lower than about 14%. Its usually kiln dried to get down to joinery grade of 10% if being sold to cabinet makers, but you make no mention of kiln drying. I'm therefore interested how you reckon you're going to get down to 10% just through air drying ?

Re: New members wanted for London milling venture

PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2016 8:33 pm
by Jeff Segal
Thanks for this. I'd forgotten that was in the beech video: with a bit of experience under my belt, if I was making it now and being precise I'd say we were aiming to air-dry the timber down to equilibrium moisture content (EMC). We don't do any kilning, but we always advise buyers to store our seasoned wood in their workshop, garage or house for a few weeks to gradually condition it to the ambient humidity.

Unless you're kiln-drying I don't think a specific target figure makes much sense. You can only ever give the moisture content (MC) at a particular point in time in a particular location. Once it's reached EMC it'll always go up and down with the relative humidity. I cut a sample of well-seasoned timber earlier this year, stuck it in the oven to get it down to 0%, then put it out in the garden under cover. It was up to almost 18% within 12 days. I brought it back in the house and just three days later it had come back down again to 10%.

Having said all that, though, we sometimes do get the air-dried MC down to low levels. Before we milled the beech I did an oven-test on some plane that we'd been air-drying outdoors for three years, and we'd got it to 10.9% without a kiln. And using a hammer probe today on some ash that we've had in the stacks for less than a year the MC was at 11.4%.

These could be flukes, of course, but we do stack our boules in a location that's south-facing and windy, yet protected from the rain, and it does dry fast. Too fast sometimes - it has to be well shaded, strapped up and protected from distortion and splits in the summer months.

Re: New members wanted for London milling venture

PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2016 3:21 pm
by oldclaypaws
I wish all that was true of oak ! It well may be possible to get ash or beech down to 11% as they are less dense than oak, but I've not cut any yet. My experience is that oak will dry fairly quickly on the surface to 14%, but even after a year or two on thicker pieces the centre of the wood can still have moisture in the 20% plus region and has the capacity to shrink if brought into a dry warm heated environment. Most joiners and cabinet makers will specify kiln dried on oak for indoor use, but its actually not rocket science to fabricate a simple home made 'kiln' with a sealed container and fan / dehumidifier / heater arrangement.

Kiln drying also isn't always necessary or desirable if using for outdoor purposes (perishable timber may need treating), or its a resilient timber such as oak or pine for semi-outdoor use such as window frames or doors.

I wonder if you've considered learning some simple carpentry or craft skills in order to be able to offer the end product yourselves, such as some basic furniture and finished items. ? I've enjoyed learning new skills and have had quite a few decent commissions for various pieces and projects. 2/3rds of the revenue can be in the end product rather than the raw material.