I have acquired a few nice logs of cherry and holly which i would like to
put at the back of the shed and turn into turned bowls or boxes in a few
The last time i tried this, they split unuseably.
The blanks I buy have a covering of wax on the ends - presumably to even out
the rate of drying.
Do I just melt some old candles and coat the ends in that or is it vastly
Secondly, how long should i leave it?
Almost as many ways to do this as there are logs. Candle wax will work, but
takes a lot of effort. There are special coatings, sold at some of the
woodworking specialty stores. Roof coating will also work nicely. Get the kind
that is silver, IME, and use an old brush to slater it on. Timing is more of a
problem. Depends primarily on the thickness of the log, but can be slowed down
or speeded up with proper storage which can be anything from a closed plastic
bag to damp sawdust. You can also turn immediately and soak the result in PEG.
"There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right in
America." William J. Clinton
Ken, you should repost this over at rec.crafts.woodturning, or search the
Google archives on that group. There are a *lot* of experienced turners over
there who can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about storing and
seasoning your turning blanks, and then some. Good luck.
Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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What you propose will help, certainly. Some people recommend reliving the
stress by splitting the log down the middle, through the pith and evening up
the rate of drying by using several coats of old latex paint on the ends.
The problem with this system is that it takes a long time to get dry blanks.
Many commercial turners turn their bowls green - they turn them out to a
rough blank with the walls left at some 10% of the dia, and the bottom
somewhat thinner. This rough bowl will season much quicker than a log and
can be remounted on the lathe after a few weeks/months and trued up and
taken down to final size.
Some turners swear by the use of Liquid Dishwasher Detergent cut 1/1 with
water in which they immerse the green blank for a few days before turning
and at any interim stage if turning has to be suspended temporarily. When
the bowl has been completed, it is then given its final finish immediately
before any more drying takes place. Sounds unlikely, but DAGS on the
rec.crafts.woodturning archive for more info.
One thing is sure, most timbers left to season in the round will degrade
No. Applying hot wax will cool and freeze the instant it hits the
cold wood. This doesn't stick and flakes off in no time.
Either apply the wax and then reflow it with a hot air gun until it
soaks in well enough, or (what I do) use a water-based wax emulsion
You can even make your own wax emulsions. But it's expensive to do
(the emulsifiers aren't easy to get in under 40 gallon quantities) and
it's just not worth it.
It works OK for me. Maybe I did this on a hot day. I use a doble
boiler to melt the wax and the hot water in the bottom keeps it
hot while I appl it. It also pours down my leg if I'm not paying
I use paraffin wax melted with an iron and smoothed with the iron on the
ends. I let it sit in my storage shed and it is hot in Texas in the summer.
It takes one year for each two inches across the piece of wood. ( 8 inches
4 years )
Sealling the ends will help reduce the chances of cracking. We usea
specialized log sealing wax at the shop. Not sure if that would be
available to you, not to mention it comes in 55 gallonn drums. Probably a
bit too much for you;-)
The boards we mill for guitarmakers we seal with spray lacquer. Reason is
you can mark on it with pencil and you can also see the end grain easily.
The kind you buy in a spray can
I do quite a bit of "milling my own" from logs. Here in the pacific
northwest, there is quite a variety and large quantities to be had for
pretty good prices.
My technique which works for me is to aquire your logs and as soon as
humanly possible, mill them into the size and thickness you want. As soon
as the tree is cut and bucked into the lengths you can handle, (hint, buck
them into as long as pieces as you can store or as long as the mill will
take) slather the ends with latex paint. The best paint to use is the
cheapest on hand paint you have. Brand is not a factor here. Now, get
those logs milled asap. The longer you leave them in log form, the greater
the possibility of cracking and checking. Cherry is really a pain in the
butt when it comes to cracking. Just seems to crack worse than others
<shrug>. As you are milling the logs, as they come off the mill, coat them
again with latex. This should be all the coating they need. Ok, now the
*really* important part. Stacking the lumber. You are gonna want to make
(what will seem like thousands) a bunch of 1-1/2" x 12" x 1/2" stickers.
Sticker in between each row of lumber at the ends and 1' on center. Stack
your lumber as high as you want. I go about chest high. When you are all
done stacking, place the heaviest items you own (old car engines, steel
beams, concrete,etc) on top. Weight is critical to keep your brand new
lumber nice and flat and free of warpage. If you are running shy on really
heavy stuff, go buy a bunch of masonry blocks.
The longer the better. It really depends on how moist of an area you live
in, whether or not the wood is enclosed, does it get a breeze?, lotsa
factors here. Here in Oregon, I typically will go 2 years per inch of
thickness. Depends on the type of wood or where I store it. Test it every
once in a while.
It isn't rocket surgery but you shouldn't have any problems if you follow
the above method. I learned the hard way and developed this technique
through several seasons.
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