How does planking work?

From the forest to the joiner

Oak can grow 1m per year and will be ready to harvest after 70-120 years.

Once a tree is felled it must be quickly planked or kept under water sprinklers. The water is to stop the timber drying too quickly and splitting. It will also protect the wood from insect damage.

If a log has been chosen for planking it must be sawn into boards which will dry and shrink down to the desired thickness.

Heart boards shrink more than crown boards, so the log must be cut in varying thicknesses to achieve a uniform size after drying.

Each log is peeled before milling. This removes stones trapped in the bark which would damage saw blades and ruin the accuracy of the cut.

After milling, each board is sprayed with organic insecticide to protect it from insect damage during the drying process. The wood is then graded for quality.

Time in stick

The planked tree must now be laid in stick to air dry on a perfectly level base.

10mm batons are used for the first year and then replaced with 20mm batons in year two. This keeps the drying process slow to avoid drying shakes.

Boards must have at least one year in stick per inch of thickness before they can be used as air-dried timber, or put in the kiln.

The time in stick reduces the wood’s moisture content and relaxes the natural tension.

Final grading

After the air drying, the wood is graded again. We find that the quality can vary significantly after the wood is seasoned.

After the final grading, the wood can be put in the kiln if needed, or sent to the joiner to cut ready for use.

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