Saw logs to prevent cracking? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

 
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post #1 of 12 Old 12-08-2016, 02:00 AM Thread Starter
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Saw logs to prevent cracking?

Greetings yall! I'm a newbie to the group and glad to be part of this community. I sculpt wood in the round. Or, at least I'm learning how to! I know that certain wood species are more prone to splitting than others. I've seen this happen within days with osage orange and within minutes with cherry. I've read from at least one place that you should saw drying osage orange logs in half, along the pith, as the pith creates imbalance across the rest of the wood due to different wood density. I've had several osage orange logs drying in an airy garage for almost a year that, though sealed, have insane splits going on and much of it is ruined. Now, I've just cut some black walnut logs this Sunday, sealed em with wax. My question is this: is it true that you must cut your logs, at least in half, in order to "free" that pith and prevent cracking? Also, is there a right or wrong time to remove the bark from your logs? Will removing it too soon result in cracks around the outside? Thanks for any knowledge on the subject
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post #2 of 12 Old 12-08-2016, 07:30 AM
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There is just going to be some end checking with wood as it dries. There is no way to avoid it. For what you are doing you need to cut the log about a foot longer than you need and cut it to a final length after it's seasoned and it will take a couple years for every inch the log is in diameter. Removing the bark won't make a lot of difference either way.
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post #3 of 12 Old 12-08-2016, 11:00 AM
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bowl turners have the answers

Go to the turner's forum for answers about checking and cracking in bowls. Same as for logs.

https://www.wwgoa.com/article/how-to...g-as-it-dries/

Post no. 4 here:
Wood cracking, how to prevent


The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specfic. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo

Last edited by woodnthings; 12-08-2016 at 11:04 AM.
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post #4 of 12 Old 12-08-2016, 03:50 PM
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Pentacryl is available at Woodcraft (at least on line)

http://www.woodcraft.com/search2/sea...uery=pentacryl
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post #5 of 12 Old 12-09-2016, 12:59 AM
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WeeMan, WELCOME to the forum!!! We don't see many sculptors.

We're not too far apart ... 30-40 miles depend what area of Murf. you're located.

Splitting logs.....I'm not sure with most species BUT the walnut is almost a garauntee especially in the spring and summer when sap up and running. Some disagree with the sap up and down BUT I find it to hold lots of truth. Winter month cutting seems to lose less bark and less checking and splits. It's hard to keep logs in the dry and not split...it's the drying that gets them BUT staying moist can cause spalting which may not be desirable in sculpting. I'm surprised at the osage and cherry though, I haven't had or seen that with those. Does your wood need to be dried??? Most turners turn green wood then let it dry then do a final cutting....is sculpting anything like that??

Splitting a log in half could slow the process BUT not a definite....it won't stay flat as it drys, the exterior rings will slowly pull and the center (what would be the qtr sawn area) won't shrink much so it kinda goes from a half moon to a semi football in time...NOT a great amount but some.

I've been stashing back some odd ball root systems hopefully to find a interested sculpture of that type. You didn't say what your sculpt style is.

Have a Blessed and Prosperous day in Jesus's Awesome Love, Tim
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post #6 of 12 Old 12-10-2016, 04:23 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies yall. Woodnthings the info in your links is very helpful and already I better understand the different techniques available to try to prevent cracking.

Glad to see a fellow Tennessean, Tennessee Tim! Yes I'd say I've noticed the seasonal difference as well. Warmer temps will make sap or water flow out wood faster. I really am only a beginner but I've always assumed I should work with wood that's dried to 10% moisture content or below, cause all info I've seen through the years would seem to say that's the most surefire way it doesn't crack on you while working on it, or worse after it's done. I've never thought about roughing out a sculpture and letting it dry further. If I seal endgrains of this roughed sculpture and tie it in a bag, opening a few mins each day, will this method be controlled enough to prevent cracking? Also, logs shrinking into a football sorta shape wouldn't really pester me, might actually help a little giving me a little more rounded shape to chisel from.

I wish I had any finished works to show yall, but do have sketches/blueprints. I'm only a youngin lol but my vision is clear. I'm going for a very Renaissance/representational sort of style. But I let each piece of wood speak to me based on its shape and grain. I use mallet and chisel, sometimes augers and dremel. Ultimately it's my goal to do a series of angel statues, each of different kind of hardwood, finished in oil finish, with stone inlays like turquoise and malachite for their eyes. That's what I feel called to do. Thing is, the wood itself is what stumps me the most haha
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post #7 of 12 Old 12-10-2016, 03:25 PM
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So I'm a little confused on a "log"...... to me a log is not something you can put in a bag NOR use little rocks as eyes....LOL...maybe fist size stones.

Terminology of things get confusing as a log to me is for a sawmill.....BUT in California or further north mine would be toothpicks so to say....but in your "log" situation they may just be a limb/toothpick to me.

DON'T put in a plastic bag EVER!!! MOLD problems!!! A paper/ kraft bag yes. From turners forum I've learned the paper bag lets moisture release slowly BUT not holding enough for mold...most do this with shavings around turnings to slowly release moisture just not straight into a dry air bag.

!0% MC........that ain't happening in TN ADing....that takes a kiln. I think you need to study/search out your wood MC needed for your style of sculpting and also best way to achieve. We can help you IF you know your specs needed for starting or ending goal and sizes....size of logs/lumber has a lot to do with drying processes.....the larger the slower!!!! After your last post I think you may be in a turners sized product/log needed. ALL these take different drying processes.

Once size is determined we can help or advise what direction might be best.

Thanks.....also post a few drawings with approx sizing if no finished projects.

Have a Blessed and Prosperous day in Jesus's Awesome Love, Tim
.......... http://www.tsmfarms.com .......... John 3:16-21 ..........
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post #8 of 12 Old 12-10-2016, 08:39 PM
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chain saw carvers face the same issues

Most of the chain saw carvings remain out doors, so they "acclimate" to the humidity of the area. When you bring wood of any description indoors, it will dry out, shrink, and crack. I made a cherry wood torso sculpture because the wood suggested that's what it would be without a whole lot of carving on my part. It has cracked severely over the past 40 years, but after the original splits, it has not changed.

Ever consider carving with a chain saw?

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specfic. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo
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post #9 of 12 Old 12-11-2016, 12:07 AM
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WeeMan: I have been carving for a long time. I buy chunks of fresh, green western red cedar logs = 6 x 6 x 96" and shake blocks 12 x 10 x 24"

1. You cannot prevent cracking but you can shape it a little. Cut the wood with 20% for loss at each end. A 24" shake block means 16 - 18" solid wood in 5 years.
2. Painting the ends with anything (glue, crappy house paint, etc) slows the rate of water loss from the open transverse face.
3. Pull the bark in the spring when it peels most easily. No reason to bust a gut at any other timne of year but some folks insist on doing that.
4. How big are the carvings that you wish to do?
5. You can expect that, under cover and not cooked in a shed, woods will air-dry to EMC of 12 - 14% about 1" thickness per year.

The rustic furniture shop down my street has a horse barn to dry wood.
They harvest 4-6 cords of diamond willow every spring.
Peeled, that wood goes into numbered bins (horse stalls!) for years just to sit and cure.
For example, this is 2016. The skinny stuff, 2" and less will be good for caned and hiking sticks in 2018, if all goes well.

I walk with a a 2014 cane. I'd like to burn the freakin' thing. But, those guys have kept me from falling on my face
and I am thankful for that.
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post #10 of 12 Old 12-30-2016, 06:13 PM
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I cut douglas fir logs from my property to make log furniture. Let air dry in shade and still cracks.
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post #11 of 12 Old 12-30-2016, 09:26 PM
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Read a copy of "Understanding wood" by Hoadley. Will clear up all the BS about needing to through a dead chicken over your left shoulder.
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post #12 of 12 Old 01-18-2017, 11:06 PM Thread Starter
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I'm happy to report that after about 2 months of sitting in a garage exposed to the extreme week-to-week temp and humidity changes of Tennessee weather (this month temps have gone from 30s and 40s one week to 70s the next) the black walnut logs I mentioned are doing great, no cracks. Pictured below with some osage orange and a couple cedar at bottom right. Just split the logs in half and sealed the ends with paraffin wax.
Also below a picture of a couple sketches I promised. Just a general idea of the kinds of things I want to do. So let's say the angel sketch is a template for something with 3ft tall body. Or heck even a lifesize body.
When I started this thread I thought it'd be alright to carve from a single big log. I've since learned people have been joining sculpture parts together for a very very long time with good success in reducing cracking, even though being 500 years old in a drafty old church or buried in the Egyptian desert. So one process I could do is join arms to "torso" with glue and dowel, build body out of 3 or more lengths of lumber joined and glued together, then either dovetail or tenon the head onto body. May seem like alot of work to many but I love process-oriented stuff and I'm a perfectionist lol and I really want everything I make to last a very long time.
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