Turning Fresh Stock

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I'm still in the beginning stages of wood turning but have dabbled with small items which I've been happy with. I purchased 5 carbide cutters which came with two metal holders, though one cutter is a diamond shape and has it's own designated holder. Therefore, I have one holder for the other 4 cutters. Anyway, I made holders out of square SS stock and now need wooden handles to fit.
I trimmed my silver maple tree over the weekend. In doing so, I realized the size of some of the branches would be great for my handles. I shaped one and pleasantly surprised how well it "turned" out (pun intended). The question I have is about the freshness of the wood. It was less than 24 hours after I trimmed the tree, I cut a piece for the handle. Therefore, that puppy was fresh and easy to turn. I've heard about letting wood sit to dry out, then finish. This is the part I haven't any knowledge on. What length of time is required to dry out? Is the main reason to dry for finishes or easier to turn? Though I can't imagine it being for easier turning. That bark and shavings came off like butter. Overall, how do I handle turning fresh stock?
Thanks
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On 9/8/2015 3:41 PM, Meanie wrote:

Narrow pieces will not take as long to dry out but for regular lumber the general time frame for natural air drying is about 1 year per inch of thickness.
You probably will not have to wait that long, given the smaller size and length, but I would let the piece, cut to approximate length, dry for a few to several months "before" turning to final size. They will surely change shape as they dry.
Typically green wood is extremely easy to turn but it will change shape and maybe crack or twist. Many bowl turners will turn a green piece to rough shape and then let the piece dry for a year or so before turning to final shape. This speeds up the drying process.
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Would coating the freshly turned pieces with Anchor Seal or similar help prevent checks as the wood dries?
Puckdropper
--
Make it to fit, don't make it fit.

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On 9/8/2015 6:02 PM, Puckdropper wrote:

You took my thought right out of my head. I await the answer.
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I've put my wet bowls with more diameter to work on inside and out - rough turned - into a sealed paper sack. Wait a month and put it on the lathe to complete. The paper leaks moisture slowly. Keep out of the sun - don't cook it.
I have also microwaved fine finished bowls on very low power then when plasticized I bend or distort the bowl shapes.
Martin
On 9/8/2015 5:27 PM, Meanie wrote:

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On 09/09/2015 6:15 PM, Martin Eastburn wrote:

I do that but also fill the bag with the turning shavings. I have also sealed the outside with end sealer on occasion. Graham
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Puckdropper <puckdropper(at)yahoo(dot)com> wrote:

"Maybe". Most sealers are used on the ends of the wood/ log. After turning you have exposed a lot of extra wood normally protected by bark. Seal those surfaces and it may not dry at all. BUT I have seen a lot of pieces totally sealed at local suppliers. Hard to tell if they are or were dried properly before being sealed.
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On 9/8/2015 5:25 PM, Leon wrote:

Holy crap! A year? I think I will measure this piece now then measure later to see the difference. The branch was about 2" dia and turned to 1.5" at it's widest point. That was the final measurement...lol. Glad I'm experimenting. I'll do the others larger.
Thanks
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On 9/8/2015 5:25 PM, Leon wrote:

One of the easiest ways to try wood that's been turned is to stick it in a box of saw dust, or shavings. It draws it out quicker than air drying and it doesn't stress it like other methods.
--
Jeff

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On 9/8/2015 11:24 PM, woodchucker wrote:

The same shavings which came off the turned piece?
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On 9/9/2015 5:52 AM, Meanie wrote:

No, dry shavings. They wick the moisture away nicely. Or so I have read dozens of times.
--
Jeff

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woodchucker wrote:

Would alcohol work? It has great affinity for water; if one were to immerse the piece in alcohol for a while and then remove it, would the alcohol have mixed with the wood's water leaving it drier?
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The slower it dries the less chance of splitting or warping. Speeding the process might cares un even drying.
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The moisture content sufficient to burn and the moisture content required for radial stability are quite different, particularly when the fire itself is drying the wood.
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As a relatively new turner myself, I offer two pieces of advice:
1. Visit the turners' forum at Sawmill Creek. Lots of experienced turners willing to answer fundamental questions.
2. See if there is an AAW chapter in your community. (That's American Association of Woodturners.) Some chapters have mentoring programs aimed at helping beginners navigate what can be a steep learning curve.
Good luck,
Larry
On Tuesday, September 8, 2015 at 3:41:57 PM UTC-5, SBH wrote:

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On 9/8/2015 6:23 PM, Gramps' shop wrote:

Thank you and yes, there is a group I met a the local woodworking show last year. Unfortunately, I went to two meets and nobody showed. They meet once a month and after the second no show, I gave up. Perhaps I'll try another time when winter comes.
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Meanie wrote:

It helps to seal the end grain with wax or Anchor-seal (which is a wax-in-water emulsion). This slows the loss of water through the end grain and promotes more even drying throughout the piece, therefore less checking.
I turn my bowls thicker than the finished bowl will be. Thickness of 10 percent of the total diameter. Then I put them in a paper bag to dry. The bag makes a micro-climate inside, slowing the drying. After 1 month I start weighing the pieces with a digital gram scale every 2 weeks and write the weight on the piece with a pencil. When the weight loss stops, it is dry for all practical purposes. Different woods dry at different speeds, averaging 3-5 months for a bowl with a wall thickness of 3/4 inch. It will no longer be round, so the finish turning corrects this.
Also, avoid using wood with the heart (pith) in it, as it will usually split IME.
--
GW Ross

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On Tuesday, September 8, 2015 at 3:41:57 PM UTC-5, SBH wrote:









Yes, turning green is really satisfying but I would encourage you to seal t he end grain with paint or poly. Otherwise, it may well check or crack beca use end grains dry far faster that the rest of the piece. Also, I wouldn't use silver maple for handles. It's too soft in my view.
Your green wood has a relative moisture content of 100 percent. Stable and thus workable wood is around 12 percent. With dry houses (these days), indo or furniture should be around 8 percent.
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On 9/8/2015 4:41 PM, Meanie wrote:

When cutting wood blanks for turning, you don't want the pith at all, it causes lots of problems. This generally makes branches not good unless they are large enough to square up w/o the pith.
As you discovered, green wood is great to turn, and large bowls are often turned green because of the large amount of wood removed, it turns easy green and dries faster than a giant unturned log, but you have to turn again after it dries, and you fill any checks and get it back into a round shape(if that's what you want).
Small turnings like tool handles are simple to turn dry, because you are removing only a small amount of wood, so turners seldom turn tool handles from green. The main problem is end grain, which wicks moisture faster than face grain, so it will cause checks in the end grain, so your handle might check as well as warp. I would seal everything up with wax or poly and sit back and observe. You will quickly gain some first hand knowledge of what works and what doesn't. A little warping and checking in a tool handle is probably not the end of the world, might even be cool.
--
Jack
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On 9/11/2015 10:23 AM, Jack wrote:

The main focus is using these maple branches to practice even if they aren't the correct wood for handles. After turning that first handle and reading all the replies including yours (obviously), you are dead on. I just left that handle sitting next to the lathe and it's slightly warped and very fine checks on each end. I have another branch I am in the middle of turning but left it since last weekend and it is also slightly warped. The third branch is cut to size but still barked and waiting. I'm trying the masking tape trick to see how that goes.
It's interesting to learn how this works. I just wish I had different types of trees to try and experiment with as well. I'll have to hunt for harder trees which may have fallen somewhere. Though, I still have a few good size logs of Black Walnut (4" to 14" dia sizes) which I saved for over a year now, when it was removed from the property where I work. I sealed the ends and they still look good. I will eventually cut them into the handles after practicing with the Silver Maple.
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