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Re: [penturners] Questions About Wood Drying

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  • Bill Baumbeck
    Hi Jeff, Saw you inquiry on how to dry green wood. Allow me to add my 2 cents worth . I live in an area that is normally very dry (Yuma, AZ averages
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 1, 2001
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      Hi Jeff,

      Saw you inquiry on how to dry 'green' wood. Allow me to add my "2 cents worth".

      I live in an area that is normally very dry (Yuma, AZ averages 10-20% humidity). Wood in this climate, once cut, will normally 'check' (crack) through the pith (center) of the tree within one hour or less unless the end grain is sealed. I use Sealtite 60 (a water based latex product that resembles wax when dry). I apply this sealant to the end grain within minutes of cutting the wood. This sealant can be purchased through Craft Supplies USA or at a number of other wood supply outlets.

      If I have the time I saw the log in half, roughly an inch or so, on each side of the pith. In other words, you will end up with a slab of wood, roughly 2" thick, that will contain the center of the log. Leaving the pith in a piece of wood will generally guarantee checking as it dries and this checking can ruin the entire log. This 'center' piece, when dry, can be used for all sorts of small projects so don't throw it away. When cutting mesquite I have numerous neighbors hovering around like mosquitoes that are willing to take this slab in order to use it in their bar-b-que pits. Little do they know.....

      I do not remove the bark from the outside of the log nor do I seal the exposed (cut side) of the log - just the end grain. If the wood is the type that is valuable or is of a species that wants to tear itself apart as it dries (olive, eucalyptus, most burl woods, etc.) I place it into a plastic bag and tie off the bag to reduce the amount of moisture the wood looses as it dries (in order to reduce the chance of additional checking).

      Once a week I will open the plastic bags, remove the wood, and turn the bag inside-out. You'll see where beads of moisture have accumulated on the inside surface of the bag. This is normal. Wipe the water off with a paper towel, replace the wood inside the dry side of the bag, and repeat this process until you don't see the anymore water beads. At that point you can leave the wood exposed to the air to complete the drying cycle. I have lost very little wood using this process.

      Please be aware that wood left in a plastic bag will most likely grow a host of different and, in some cases, dangerous molds. Wash your hands after handling the wood!

      What I've suggested is just one of many ways to dry wood. Everyone has their own technique and you will probably have to go through a trial & error process to see what method works best in the area in which you live. I've seen wood that has been cut and air dried for three years in a humid environment then brought to Provo, Utah and crack within two days because of Provo's low humidity. The purchase of a good moisture meter will also aid in determining when the wood has reached the proper moisture content for turning (I turn when a piece has dried to 7%-8% moisture content).

      I don't use the different chemicals to accelerate the drying process (pentacryl) nor do I use a microwave (it just makes me want to order a pizza). Sometimes you just have to let Nature do it's thing - in it's own way and in it's own time. In my opinion this is one of those times.

      Hope this helps.

      Bill Baumbeck
      (928)329-8039 Evenings
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: <jeffc@...>
      To: <penturners@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2001 7:34 PM
      Subject: [penturners] Questions About Wood Drying

      > This may be a bit off topic but I am curious about the process of
      > drying green wood. I know I have read posts about people making pens
      > from "found wood" so somebody must know where I can find more
      > information about the process. How long does it take wood to dry?
      > I'm sure it varies with the species but is there any general rules?
      > Can it be dried quicker with heat. I assume that it can being most
      > wood is sold as "kiln dried". What is involved with that process.
      > Since we are dealing with very small pieces can it be done another
      > way, say in an oven? I see wood for sale that is "waxed" I'm
      > guessing that this is to seal out (or in) moisture. Is this
      > necesssary? How is it removed? My main reason for asking is that
      > down the street a neighbour cut down a hedge apple tree (I think
      > Osage Orange is another name for it). It is a beautiful bright
      > yellow wood, and I can have a bunch of it. Another neighbour is
      > cutting down a big walnut tree next week, and I'm sure I can get some
      > of it if I want it. I did find an article about drying wood in the
      > microwave? Sounds kinda goofy to me but does it work? Anyone tried
      > it? I know it's a long post so thanks for letting me ramble.
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