When I last wrote about this discovery of mahogany (read it here), I wrote that the price was not going to be $10 per board foot. I now have that information, sort of. But let me tell you about what has developed during the drying process.
The material was in a large conventional steam kiln for just over three weeks and the moisture content continued to be in the 30 percent+ range. The threat of surface checks on the material was so great that after one week in the kiln, with only unheated air being blown through the stacks, checks could be seen. The kiln was too large for the small charge of lumber and the ability to keep the ambient humidity just below the material’s surface humidity was impossible.
The remedy for this was to remove the charge, load about a 3/4 charge of wet oak and put the Belize lumber back in front of that. This seems to have done the trick and is now keeping the material “happy.” The only issue is that the amount of time necessary to dry the lumber is lengthy.
It was decided that the right kiln to use for drying submerged timber is a vacuum kiln, and that would kick the costs upward. After a number of phone calls, a kiln was found Muscatine, Iowa. River City Hardwoods (read about the company here) has three Vacutherm, Inc. kilns, of which one has a capacity of 4,000 board feet. The owner has experience with drying materials such as this. According to him, the mahogany will take around 10 to 14 days to dry down to 8 percent, and a couple days to stabilize.
About pricing: The company responsible for this endeavor , Greener Lumber, LLC (click here for additional information) , expects to have about 1,400 board feet available from this first load. Prices are expected to range from $25/bf for 4/4 common-grained lumber, to $45/bf for highly figured stock. Given the lumber, the path the lumber takes to get to the States and the drying process involved, those figures seem reasonable.
In my next entry on this lumber cache, I should have photos of the dried lumber and a brief description of how the lumber works , Popular Woodworking has the honor of being the first shop to examine and work with this material. Additionally, I’ll let you know why these early container loads might be the most inexpensive board footage of this old-growth material coming to market. You’ll be amazed why!
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