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Timber or log treatment under water for future use  RSS feed

 
Posts: 20
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Hi,

I am planning to build more than one building to a newly acquired land in the future. So my question is about preparing some components beforehand. I am sure I will have to use some timbers and logs. I am planning to bulk purchase some timber- logs. And I can buy them just before using them or buy them now and store them for future use.

And this week an old man told me that his son buys trees and submerge them to water and then sometimes later use it so that the logs are resistant to rot and termites...

So I am curious if anybody knows more about this kind of treatment? Is it really possible?

Let's say, can I buy logs and submerge them in a pond?

Is there a minimum required time of stay under water for the logs to retain certain characteristics?

Does anybody suggest if I can submerge the logs in a swale like lined structure full of borate dissolved water?



 
pollinator
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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That sounds dangerous to me. The potential for leaks seems way too high, or it will be prohibitively expensive to do safely this way.

Consider: what are you going to line this trench with? How much wood are you going to treat? How big a trench will this be? That could end up being a very expensive single-purpose toxic pond that you have to clean up later.

Borax works to kill microbial life, which is why it is a preservative. If it leaks into the surrounding soil, your soil becomes dirt, pretty useless for anything until its cleaned up.

I don't think anyone would suggest this, for good reason.

-CK
 
pollinator
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I have logged all my life (15 to 44) and have several sawmills and have never heard of this either. It may be legal to do it in a man made pond, but completely illegal in a natural body of water. The effectiveness would not be good either.

There was a submerged method we used to use, but it is no longer done, highly illegal now, and just plain achient. I am not even going to say what it was because some yahoo might read it and try it despite all common sense saying it is silly to even comprhend.

Just buy the right wood.

Here in maine, Hemlock, spruce and Fir last about a year before the bugs get into them. White Pine last 2 years; they get bugs laid, but they do not burrow until the two year mark. Some hardwoods like Ash and Beech last about a year, while Rock Maple and White Oak last for years without rot. Above ground cedar lasts for years, but in ground only 20 years or so. In brackish water, White Oak or Hack lasts longer then anyone on this site will ever live to be.

 
M. Tok
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I am Just asking. Forget about the borax.  The real question is submerging the logs in a Man made pond.
 
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I have fished the same lake for 40 years and the same dead submerged trees have been there for those 40 years.

Ive also seen tv reality shows where they harvested old growth submerged logs that have been there a long time.

My guess is the oldtimer may be right.
 
Posts: 243
Location: Caerphilly, Wales, UK
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I know that when I pulled a waterlogged chunk of alder from a pond with the intention of carving from it it ended up being good for nothing. It started to rot almost immediately as it never dried out.

Logs submerged in water will have a reduced or stalled rate of decay due to the anaerobic conditions. Some types of wood, particularly elm I believe, were traditionally used for piping due to its durability under water.

Personally I'd be buying timber just before use in order to minimise the risk of loosing the logs to decay, termites or whatever. There are methods of construction you can use to minimise rot without having to resort to submerging your timber before use.
 
pollinator
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Location: Ashhurst New Zealand
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I make the occasional hay rake out of native hardwood (Olearia) and when I get a nice piece but am not ready to do anything with it I'll chuck it into one of the stock troughs for safekeeping. I fished a head length out the other day to check on it and it looks exactly like it did when it went in...and that was at least two years ago. I drill them while they're green or wet, pound the tines in and let the drying wood shrink to hold on like grim death. Works pretty well.
 
M. Tok
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Phil Stevens wrote: I'll chuck it into one of the stock troughs for safekeeping. I fished a head length out the other day to check on it and it looks exactly like it did when it went in...and that was at least two years ago.



Hi Phil,
Sorry perhaps english is not adequate. What is 'stock trough'... More importantly do you mean that you submerge the wood into water?
 
Chris Kott
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I was wondering if anyone had considered something like a solar kiln for treating lumber. I don't know how hot it has to get to cause the volatile organic compounds to offgas, but I know getting rid of the moisture and VOCs is essentially what makes the Shou Sugi Ban method of wood charring for preservation work.

What I am envisioning is essentially an outbuilding designed to contain the logs standing on end. Something outhouse-sized, as tall as necessary, with a sunward wall made of reclaimed windows, with ventilation designed to trap heat, to warm incoming air, and to maintain a moisture-controlled slowly drying environment.

I think I would do something regarding oiling the timber or logs with linseed or mineral oil as they dry, maybe sitting the butts in rubber hydroponics trays filled with the stuff. As moisture leaves the top cut ends of the wood, capillary action should draw the oil up into the logs, ensuring they don't split, and conferring a measure of water impermeability.

Water is one of the enemies of longevity of organic matter. As mentioned previously, lumber kept submerged stays intact because of the lack of oxygen. I don't think doing so confers any special longevity to that wood after it comes out. It's still food for things that like wood, and coming out of the water, it's chock-full of all the stuff that wood decomposers need to thrive.

EDIT: One thing that just occurred to me is that the foodstuffs could be eaten by anaerobic life, leaving only the indigestible structural material behind. Any thoughts?

So what about the solar kiln idea? The materials and effort required to build such a structure would be way less than digging a pond for the purpose. Can anyone think of a reason this wouldn't work?

-CK
 
Chris Kott
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I just checked out Appropedia to see if they had an entry under Solar Lumber Kiln.

So it's not just speculation. I was thinking about a long black manifold under or over the windows for a solar heated air intake, but having a barbeque black-painted metal roof with an intake channeling air between it and a sheet metal underlayer would be a much better solar air heater.

-CK
 
wayne fajkus
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Yok, cattle trough is where a cow drinks, so it is submerged in water.

Raw logs may be viable but i would not do it on store bought kiln dried lumber. Major warpage will occur as it dries. If you have to set up kiln just for this reason, it defeats the reason you bought the lumber early- to save money.
 
Chris Kott
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Wayne, the "kiln" we're talking about is a slow process, both the way I described and the way it is laid out on the appropedia article, and we're essentially talking about a shed built to store raw lumber and keep the moisture to a minimum, to draw it out of the wood.

I would contend that cattle troughs, or even better, a dug pond, would be much more cost and labour-intensive.

-CK
 
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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In Australia we used steel posts.
Its good value, easy to handle [ don't need cranes ], works well with concrete holes in the ground backed filled with concrete.
They can be bolted to footplates installed earlier or even bolted to existing slabs.

And last for many years longer than wood.
If a wood look is needed I guess you could hide them, but in my case, I just want a shed etc.
And steel works well.
 
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I restored an old 100+ year old spring that was lined with hemlock around the base to support the cover.  The hemlock beams that were exposed to the air were completely rotten, the hemlock submerged was solid. I don't doubt the old timer but I wonder if there was an additional step, a certain acidity to the water or if the fellow was just speaking of a certain species?  Hemlock will hold up submerged without oxygen but once you take it out I have no idea if it would retain that.  I would imagine once the oxygen gets to it the rot would set in but maybe not? I sure would like to test it now that you bring it up.  Just the other day I crossed a stream and what I thought was a rock about a meter under the sandy bank I noticed was an ancient hemlock a good 6 feet in diameter quite preserved. It must have fallen in a time when maybe the beavers flooded the land and now there is a small stream that passes over it.  Judging by the landscape that tree must have been resting there many hundreds of years or maybe more. 
If you test this please let us know of any success or failures.  
 
Posts: 74
Location: San Diego, California
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What these guys say above is true: wood stored underwater will be preserved due to lack of oxygen, but once exposed, it starts to degrade.  To again preserve/maintain it's integrity back above water, it needs to be dried (not just dry, but slow dried at exact temperatures, humidity levels, and time intervals.) much too cost prohibitive for the average user. I'm probably remembering poorly, but saleable lumber is usually dried to somewhere between 6-12% moisture content within the wood during the kiln process. 
 
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