How do I season 6" thick 400 year old white oak

I recently came into possesion of a slab of white oak about 6 feet in diameter, and 6" thick. I intend to someday use it to make a table. Could someone just give me some basics about how to season such a slab? It will be stored in an unheated garage in Ohio. How long must I wait, and is there any hope that it won't end up with gaping cracks? Thanks in advanced.
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Unless it was just cut down or just retrieved from underwater, wouldn't it already be seasoned? Can't offer you any tips on how to treat it, but I do inquire how you came into possession of such a wonderful piece of wood?
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Upscale wrote:

It was in a suburban neighborhood from a freshly cut down tree. The tree was about 400 years old, although I still have to count the rings. The owner of the house was forced to cut the tree down because of local zoning regulations. (It was healthy, but if one of its sizable limbs fell during a storm, it could potential kill someone or destroy the house). This thing is absolutely massive. The tree-cutting company spent about a week cutting it down, and I and a few other neighbors couldn't stand to see the lumber go to waste, as they were grinding up parts of it into wood chunks. The owner/operator said he gives the wood waste to a local power company for fuel in a powerhouse (not a total waste, but certainly not the best option). I will probably get a few more of these massive disks. Anybody willing to estimate what a piece like this might fetch on ebay?
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funster wrote: > I recently came into possesion of a slab of white oak about 6 feet in > diameter, and 6" thick. I intend to someday use it to make a table. > Could someone just give me some basics about how to season such a slab? > It will be stored in an unheated garage in Ohio. How long must I > wait, and is there any hope that it won't end up with gaping cracks? > Thanks in advanced. >
I can't help, but depending on what part of Ohio, there are a considerable number of logging operations in and around the Amish areas of Wayne and Holmes county who could advise you.
Lew
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400 years old? It's beyond seasoned unless it was at the bottom of a lake! Let it acclimate to your shop (although it shouldn't move unless it came from a lake) and have at it. Cheers, cc
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I meant the freshly cut down tree was approximately 400 years old. But, yeah, I'd have to agree that a piece of wood that has been drying for 400 years is probably pretty well seasoned. LOL
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Do you mean it came from a 400 year old tree that was recently cut, or, the slab was cut 400 years ago?
If the former - I would guess that an Ohio winter will be fine to dry it out. If you have a basement, I might start in down there - maybe 4-5 weeks at the floor level and then 2-3 weeks at the ceiling level. After that, the garage should be fine. Another 16-20 weeks should suffice Make certain that you keep it unstressed and without any bowing (use a lot of supports), and I also like to add weight to dicourage twist. This is the do-it-yourself method. If you have the dollars you could find a commercial operation but from my experience they will charge quite a bit as small lots are a pain. If you go this way I would suggest rough-cutting of parts to speed the drying process.
If the latter - you can make the table now as long as you are sure that it has been in or around Ohio. If, for example, it was being stored in Florida, you should give it 4-6 weeks to adjust. However, if you can verify that it is, in fact, 400 years old it has value well beyond the prevailing BF price for White Oak.
Good Luck, J
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funster wrote:

Not as a slab, no.
This harkens back to the thread here just a day or so ago on suggested newbie tools and books wherein I recommended Hoadley's "Understanding Wood". The opening story of the book describes his first acquaintance w/ wood properties with a story about an attempt to ...
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funster wrote:

Freshly cut disk from a 400 year old tree?
Act NOW. It won't wait.
Your options are to either slice the thing in half on the diameter, then allow it to season as two wedges. You can later re-joint these, either by making them into chords and losing the central pith, or by re-assembling narrower segments from either more than one disk, or by narrowing them all and losing a little of the centre.
Alternatively displace the water in it by immersing the whole disk in a bath of PEG-1000 (available from woodturning suppliers)
If you try to season any solid disk more than a hand span across you will not "just be lucky" it WILL crack radially.
OTOH, you could just let it crack and deal with that later, through some obvious infill or Nakashima-style treatment.
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: funster wrote:
:> I recently came into possesion of a slab of white oak about 6 feet in :> diameter, and 6" thick.
: Freshly cut disk from a 400 year old tree?
: Act NOW. It won't wait.
: Your options are to either slice the thing in half on the diameter, : then allow it to season as two wedges. You can later re-joint these, : either by making them into chords and losing the central pith, or by : re-assembling narrower segments from either more than one disk, or by : narrowing them all and losing a little of the centre.
: Alternatively displace the water in it by immersing the whole disk in a : bath of PEG-1000 (available from woodturning suppliers)
The stuff paints on -- a whole bath wouldn't be needed. Pour on, spread, wait for it to sink in, repeat.
: OTOH, you could just let it crack and deal with that later, through : some obvious infill or Nakashima-style treatment.
Nakashima dealt with cracks in longgrain slabs -- not a disk of endgrain. His butterfly keys might not work all that well in relatively weak endgrain.
    -- Andy Barss
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funster wrote:

You got a disk from the trunk, right? I kind of doubt you'll be able to do anything useful with it. It will crack. The treatments the guys recommended might help, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Would've been nice to hire a woodmizer to have it cut up into boards, but I guess it's too late now.
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Yeah, I misinterpreted the original message. I agree with bf that it will crack. Tangential shrikage will take a toll on the outer perimeter where you will probably end up with a number of large and deep splits. Quartering it would help but that would defeat your plans. Anyway, try to dry it as slowly as possible and maybe the splitting won't go so deep as to render it useless.
Good Luck, J
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You're out of luck, I'm afraid. Oak is about the worst wood you can get, as far as radial cracking goes. I think I'd try and cut a kerf right from the outside rim to the center, and hope that it only cracks where I sawed it, and fill it in later with a contrasting wood.
It will shrink 10.5% tangentially, and 5.6% radially according to the chart I have.
Otherwise, if you can handle the risk of having a hole in the very center of the slab, you could try (and I have not done this) drilling the center out and letting it dry. If you do it just right, and the woodworking gods favor you, it might be just enough strain relief to keep the thing from cracking, and pull the wood towards the center to close up the hole. When it dries, the wood wants to cup towards the center of the tree, and that's what tears it apart. If it has somewhere to warp to, you might get lucky- but more likely, not. It's just speculation- I haven't ran aross anyone even claiming to be able to season disks like that. The biggest problem is that you need a bunch of disks to try various things on, and be willing to wreck all of them- not worth the effort for most folks. Even better than a simple hole might be a several-pointed star pattern (with thin rays) cut out of it with a hole in the center. If you're extrordinarily lucky, the star could close up, and you'd have a dry slab that is no longer quite round.
My vote is for firewood- or saw it into lathe blanks, if you happen to have one.
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Salt and pepper to taste?
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