UPDATE AUGUST 2011 – We have been informed the stake company operating out of the Sanford/Orlando Airport Commerce Park known on the web as http://www.floridasurveystakes.com has ceased its cutting operations, something we see all to often. This may be the tenth time in this blog that we have mentioned we feel for them as this is our industry and we have said for the last ten years that it was an over supplied industry. What can you do to better yourself? Ask to see your stake suppliers cutting operation, Stakemill has been cutting wood stakes since 1978. The entire time Stakemill has been located in Largo, all while acquiring other stake producers around Florida and their equipment. Stakemill was purchased by Bay Pines Investments in the late 1980′s and I personally have been here running the saws, delivering stakes and supplies and making the day-to-day decisions since that time. No one wants to be in an industry where failure is the norm, but cutting wood stakes in a garage, back yard, under a pole barn with a sprinkler cooling off the galvanized roof is not a real business. I hope the land surveyors and road builders have learned by now to look into who cuts their wood stakes, anyone who can get into this business in a weekend can get out of this business in a weekend as well, can you rely on your supplier packing up that easy?
ORIGINAL ENTRY FROM NOVEMBER 18, 2010
Recently it has been brought to our attention a Florida stake producer claims to use a “better wood”, this information has been established in just a few years of operation over others with close to four decades of cutting experience. That has intrigued us, so we wanted to share with you information you can find easily on the net. Then we will give you our opinion after being in this business for over thirty some years.
Basically there are two ways to dry lumber once it has been cut down. The first and oldest way is to air dry and the second is to Kiln dry or heat the lumber. When you air dry lumber you must be experienced and have the proper moisture reading equipment, plus you are at the mercy of Mother Nature. When you heat-treat lumber you can then stamp the lumber so it is certified usable in the building industry, heat treating or kiln drying heats the wood to a set temperature for a set period of time decided by such organizations as the Southern Pine Timber Council assuring you get the same bug and disease free lumber every time. Air drying or Green Lumber will vary much like the talent at Open Mic Night at your local comedy club, sometimes you will like it sometimes you will not. When your business counts on stakes like most land surveyors, engineers and road builders do you want the same product every time, you can’t get one bundle that weighs 20 pounds and the next five weigh 30 pounds, those extra pounds mean water. That water leads to fungus, it gives bugs a home, when you store this wood in your office, inside garage or even your vehicle the last thing you want is bugs being introduced to your work environment or adding 100+ pounds to your vehicle that is already loaded down hindering your fuel economy.
Direct from Wikipedia – WOOD DRYING
Why Kiln Drying or Heat Treating Provides a Better Grade of Lumber
Kiln drying provides a means of overcoming the limitations imposed by erratic weather conditions. In kiln drying as in air drying, unsaturated air is used as the drying medium. Almost all commercial timbers of the world are dried in industrial kilns. A comparison of air drying, conventional kiln and solar drying is given below:
- Timber can be dried to any desired low moisture content by conventional or solar kiln drying, but in air drying, moisture contents of less than 18% are difficult to attain for most locations.
- The drying times are considerably less in conventional kiln drying than in solar kiln drying, followed by air drying.
- This means that if capital outlay is involved, this capital is just sitting there for a longer time when air drying is used. On the other hand, installing an industrial kiln, to say nothing of maintenance and operation, is expensive.
- In addition, wood that is being air-dried takes up space, which could also cost money.
- In air drying, there is little control over the drying elements, so drying degrade cannot be controlled.
- The temperatures employed in kiln drying typically kill all the fungi and insects in the wood if a maximum dry-bulb temperature of above 60 °C is used for the drying schedule. This is not guaranteed in air drying.
- If air drying is done improperly (exposed to the sun), the rate of drying may be overly rapid in the dry summer months, causing cracking and splitting, and too slow during the cold winter months.
The significant advantages of conventional kiln drying include higher throughput and better control of the final moisture content. Conventional kiln and solar drying both enable wood to be dried to any moisture content regardless of weather conditions. For most large-scale drying operations solar and conventional kiln drying are more efficient than air drying.
Classification of timbers for drying
The timbers are classified as follows according to their ease of drying and their proneness to drying degrade:
- Highly refractory woods: These woods are slow and difficult to dry if the final product is to be free from defects, particularly cracks and splits. Examples are heavy structural timbers with high density such as ironbark (Eucalyptus paniculata), blackbutt (E. pilularis), southern blue gum (E. globulus) and brush box (Lophostemon cofertus). They require considerable protection and care against rapid drying conditions for the best results (Bootle, 1994).
- Moderately refractory woods: These timbers show a moderate tendency to crack and split during seasoning. They can be seasoned free from defects with moderately rapid drying conditions (i.e. a maximum dry-bulb temperature of 85 °C can be used). Examples are Sydney blue gum (E. saligna) and other timbers of medium density (Bootle, 1994), which are potentially suitable for furniture.
- Non-refractory woods: These woods can be rapidly seasoned to be free from defects even by applying high temperatures (dry-bulb temperatures of more than 100 °C) in industrial kilns. If not dried rapidly, they may develop discolouration (blue stain) and mould on the surface. Examples are softwoods and low density timbers such as Pinus radiata.
Wood Drying Benefits
Drying, if carried out promptly after felling of trees, also protects timber against primary decay, fungal stain and attack by certain kinds of insects. Organisms, which cause decay and stain, generally cannot thrive in timber with a moisture content below 20%. Several, though not all, insect pests can live only in green timber. Dried wood is less susceptible to decay than green wood is above 20% moisture.
- Dried timber is lighter, and the transportation and handling costs are reduced.
- Dried timber is stronger than green timber in most strength properties.
- Timbers for impregnation with preservatives have to be properly dried if proper penetration is to be accomplished, particularly in the case of oil-type preservatives.
- In the field of chemical modification of wood and wood products, the material should be dried to a certain moisture content for the appropriate reactions to occur.
- Dry wood works, machines, finishes and glues better than green timber. Paints and finishes last longer on dry timber.
- The electrical and thermal insulation properties of wood are improved by drying.
What This Means
As you will read in Wikipedia, air drying lumber takes lots of space and time. Take it from someone who has been there, sometimes you just have to cut the wood you have on hand, and when that wood is Green you get a rough finish, heavier product, possible insect infested material and it will warp! We purchase our lumber used to make stakes from the major mills throughout the southeast stakes like Georgia Pacific, Blue Lynx, International Paper, West Frasier and others, these mills are all members of the lumber association and follow the guidelines allowing their product to be used by the consumer. Ask any home center or lumber yard if they sell air-dried lumber.
Our lumber has a moisture content of 13 to 18%, mold grows at 20%, insects infest at those levels as well.
Having purchased more stake producing equipment and or companies than anyone else in the south east states we have seen every possible way of manufacturing wood stakes. We have also heard from these prior business owners what they knew adding to our years of knowledges. We have even hired owners of failed stake operations to work our production lines and have seen first hand what works and does not work in both lumber and production methods. Stakemill is now looking at buying more stake producing equipment that is once agian sitting.