WoodCentral's Book Reviews
The Conversion and Seasoning of Wood

The Conversion and Seasoning of Wood
by William H. Brown

Linden Publishing: 1988
Paperback, 222 pp., $16.95
ISBN 0-941936-14-7

     Much of William Brown's classic study on the seasoning of felled timbers is aimed at British concerns with humidity levels and climatology, but the principles of preparing wood for use in the workshop are universal and well explained in this volume on milling and drying your own wood. He includes many reference tables to do with everything from equilibrium moisture content related to relative humidity at different temperatures, to a comparative table on various materials used to reduce noise in machining the timber.
     Beginning with an explanation of wood and its structure, Brown shows in clear drawings and diagrams how to cut up logs for the best yield, how to selectively cut for grain and appearance in different species, and how to deal with root stock, burls, and general factors affecting sawing. He discusses chainsaw mills, bandsaw mills, and roller feeders in how to support the logs, in what order to do the cutting, and how to stack a flitch after cutting. He also gives tables of working qualities for European hardwoods, North American hardwoods and Australian hardwoods.
     Moisture in wood is thoroughly explained, with lists of differing characteristics and the common times required to air dry them from green to 18% moisture content. Moisture meters are explained and critiqued, with an explanation of how different types are calibrated.
     In Principles of Air Drying, the author discusses how to carefully lay an outdoor foundation for stacking, how and where to sticker the material and how to shade or protect the ends of a stack. He shows ways to build internal flues into the drying stack to promote air flow, and how to profile the stickers to prevent sticker stains.
     A long chapter on kiln drying presents several methods for building your own kiln, including 1)conventional kilns with heating sources, fans for circulation of air and recording devices to control drying 2)dehumidifiers working at lower temperatures, and 3)solar kilns incorporating a passive collector and fans to circulate air. Full sketches and construction details are included.
     Brown also covers drying defects and how best to prevent them. He talks about shrinkage and stress, checking, splitting, beetle damage and wood borers, end grain protection and debarking of lumber.
     This book is full of advice on 'do's and do-not's', with tabulated information on the prime considerations for producing successfully seasoned wood. It has all black and white photography and drawings, with clear construction details for drying wood on both a large production scale and for the small scale user.

. . . Barb Siddiqui