I make wire brushes from KD Beech. It is a problem when we ship to
California because 5% of the brushes split by the time they get there. I'm
thinking it's due to pressure changes when crossing the mountains. One
thought I have is to let the blocks sit for a month to let them normalize
then drill and fill them. I tried to talk to the tree designer about the
More likely, it's due to humidity changes.
You might talk to your supplier about drying the lumber to a lower moisture
content. That will drive up your lumber costs, though, and probably by more
than your current five percent loss rate.
Do you have to use beech? Birch might be a better choice.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Maybe you need to talk to another supplier.
Here's another option for you, too: buy birch, but in a lower grade.
Presumably, these brush handles are fairly small items; I'm guessing that you
could probably cut one from a blank about a foot long by an inch or so square,
You don't have to buy FAS or Select lumber to get clear cuttings that small;
#2 or #3 COM will work just fine. Sure, there's more work involved in cutting
the stock, but the difference in the cost of material is *huge*. And the waste
material can be burned to help heat your building.
Whether that difference in material cost is big enough to compensate for the
extra cost in preparation is something that only you can decide. But I think
it's worth considering.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Valid points, all. However, this is surely a twisty road. I've discovered
that low grades of lumber have huge hidden costs of labor per good block,
electricity, handling costs and disposal costs. I know it doesn't make
sence but our studies over the past 20 years or so show it. I think that
with a huge decree of computer controlled automation, it could work but
we're not there.
No surprise. There is a lot of beech in Ohio, not
much birch. A big part of the cost of wood is
transportation cost. There is also a lot less
demand for beech, it's primary use seems to
be for making fake maple furniture.
Humidity is usually the cause of splitting, specifically changes in
humidity that are not even within the wood. One part dries faster than
another and this stresses the wood and can lead to cracks.
I am guessing these items are not finished or have a very porous
finish. A better finish will slow down humidity changes and reduce
On Feb 16, 11:20 am, email@example.com (Doug Miller) wrote:
I'd say it's certain. People fly airplanes made with
wood. They experience much larger pressure changes
applied much more rapidly and they do not (usually)
fall apart at altitude.
(To Mr Gardner)
Are you up on the North Coast?
Is there a difference in 'survival' rate between
brushes made in the (dry) winter vs those made
in the (humid) summer?
It comes in spurts. Sometime we see fine checking in a batch and know there
will be trouble. We try to weed out the worst and pray for the best. We've
got the kilning conditions, the weather and the trees themselves to deal
with. What can you say...it's wood!
Have you looked at steamed beech. My supplier has it for about the
same cost and if I remember right he said that the steaming not only
evens out the color it also relieves the internal pressure created by
drying and makes the wood less likely to split. At least that's what
he told me. Hope that helps. bc
I suspect it is the drilling. I assume you have a 4/4 thick piece of
stock and you drill a bunch of holes 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through in
a very tight patten. Then those are then filled with some bristles.
Drilling all those holes opens the wood up to some incredible
absorbtion and exhaustion (is that a word) so the speed at which this
wood will start to dry out or absorbe is radically accelerated with
all that new surface area and path to internal zones.
I think maybe not drilling so deep, drilling and letting set for a
month or making the handle thicker or devising some pattern of kerfs
to help equalize the stress on the non drilled side mught be the
Another possibility might be to dunk the whole wood piece in shellac
before gluing in the bristles. This also might minimize the
Well, easy solution is to climate-control the trip. Assuming that it's not
the wonderful dry heat of the interior of CA that's doing you in on arrival.
Beech isn't the nicest wood, and the rays are a built-in point of weakness
which your QS methods might be putting at even greater risk.
Beech sure splits easily for the furnace.
Good point! My first experiment will only cost inventory expences to age
the blocks for a month or so. I'll keep records and lot# and every part has
a date of Mfg, stamped when it gets made into a brush. I only have beech
with no finish approved, this customer took 6 months to approve a change in
handle screw head from Philips to square, and they freaked about that...I
had to beg.
Beech is tight grained and has a reputation for being
difficult to kiln dry without a lot of waste. A local
sawyer will not even try to kiln dry it in thicknesses,
over 4/4. Probably your supplier needs to dry
it on a schedule that holds it at temperature longer,
which will raise the cost.
Shellac would probably help too, but you've
indicated that it would have to go through a
long approval process, despite being approved
in other food applications.
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