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post #1 of 37 Old 03-12-2018, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
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Burl table top

Hi all,
I could really use some suggestions here. I purchase a red oak burl and have several questions that hopefully can be answered.

1) there are 2 really large voids that have made it very weak to lift to the point where I think it could snap. Would you suggest epoxy or bow ties or both?

2) Ive read a lot where people say its really tough to keep the bark on. Does anyone have any experience with this? The red oak has been air dried for over a year and it just came out of the kiln last week(30 days worth). Its 2 thick

3) do you have and suggestions how to sand in between the voids and crevices?

4) some pieces look like dry rot or decay, being there pretty soft, would you suggest knocking them through?

5) some of it is termite tunnels which are old. Would you scrape them out or leave it as is?

6)this is going to be a pub table for some friends who are opening a brewery,what type of finish would you use for it?

I've already planed and sanded with 80g so just waiting to see my next steps

Sorry for so many questions I just want to get it right. The 3rd pic is where the 2 large voids are
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post #2 of 37 Old 03-12-2018, 07:25 PM
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Hi all,
I could really use some suggestions here. I purchase a red oak burl and have several questions that hopefully can be answered.

1) there are 2 really large voids that have made it very weak to lift to the point where I think it could snap. Would you suggest epoxy or bow ties or both?

2) I’ve read a lot where people say it’s really tough to keep the bark on. Does anyone have any experience with this? The red oak has been air dried for over a year and it just came out of the kiln last week(30 days worth). It’s 2” thick

3) do you have and suggestions how to sand in between the voids and crevices?

4) some pieces look like dry rot or decay, being there pretty soft, would you suggest knocking them through?

5) some of it is termite tunnels which are old. Would you scrape them out or leave it as is?

6)this is going to be a pub table for some friends who are opening a brewery,what type of finish would you use for it?

I've already planed and sanded with 80g so just waiting to see my next steps

Sorry for so many questions I just want to get it right...
Hi Joe,

Before I even read (we always look at pictures first don't we...LOL) I took a guess it had been kiln dried, and I would offer an observation that this was done either too rapidly, and/or at too high a temperature. It looks a bit cooked (aka case hardened) which tends to leave wood in general very brittle...especially burls, "cookies" and high figured grain wood. Not much to do now about that, as it can't really be "undone." I leave a deeper explanation to those here like Tennessee Tim (et al) that actually run kilns on a regular basis. I only air dry the lumber I mill and/or purchase...If I do (for some strange reason) need something kiln dried, I only go to those I know have at least 10 years of experience in and around the wood trade with some expertise of "soup to nuts" in the trade...

To your questions...

1) Validation first...I use almost exclusively traditional systems of woodworking...which means my first choice is "tie joinery" of some form and shape depending on design of work to be made from a particular piece of wood. Epoxy work takes the piece down another path unless used very precisely and sparingly...

2) Bark is, indeed, hard to keep on. There are methods...If you really want to do it? It may not be worth it time-wise, however, if this has value to your aesthetically, we can get into those systems of conservation/restoration?

3) Either very delicately with hand floats, rasps, and sand papers wrapped around various instruments to get into those spaces, and also with rotary tools like Foredom or Dremel. The quickest (yet requiring skill to do well) is blasting with fine grits, and mediums like "corn cobb" etc.

4) Removing them depends on your goal for the wood in the furniture or related work you plan to do. These voids can be solidified with drying oils, or can be filled with stone, bone, pewter, copper, glass, other wood species etc...and polished out...or...if going down the epoxy and plastics road of how many like to work these...just about anything can go in there...Not my style or recommendation for the long term best interest of the wood...

5) Leave it as character to the piece...but that's just me...Its up to your taste and style...

6) Even for heavy public use, I still only recommend a good natural/traditional oil, rosin, beeswax blend...I just use more coats (about 4) and educate my client on proper care and up keep. Done well, this finish system is ever lasting, and maintainable with historic examples in museums (and Pubs in Europe) that are over 500 year old and going strong...Plastics, epoxies, and polys all have a very set lifespan...Once done they are also virtually impossible to reverse in order to refinish...without material sacrifice and or "starting over."

I plane, and scrape but if I do sand, I don't stop until...at least...320 grit (have gone past 1000 grit for burls) with no big jumps in grit ranges between changes... This will leave almost a glass surface that can them be softened with water to bring back a more mat finish, yet still glass/satin smooth to the touch...

Hope that helps,

j
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post #3 of 37 Old 03-12-2018, 09:20 PM
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Being end grain I wouldn't use bowtie patches. That will create more problems than it will help. If it were me I would just fill it with epoxy alone.

Keeping the bark on really has more to do with when the tree dies or when it's cut down. The bark will stay better if the tree is cut in winter when the tree is dormant. About all you can do if the bark is coming off is to use wood glue and glue it back on.

What do you mean by sanding between the cracks and crevasses. I would start with filling the defects and then sand the entire surface to a smooth flat surface. I would probably start with a belt sander grinding the surface flat and then finish with an orbital sander.

The spots of rotten wood I wouldn't knock out. The wood can be hardened with either a wood hardener or even the epoxy can take care of it.

The termite holes I would leave along. After all it's suppose to look rustic.

As far as a finish if you are going to do some filling and repair with epoxy I would use a pour on epoxy finish.
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post #4 of 37 Old 03-13-2018, 12:30 AM
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OUCH!!!!!

I guess it's education time....AND most of this is from what I've gathered from reading MANY articles and some are conflicting BUT.....

1) Most cookies (the cut style this is in) will crack during drying EVEN with the best intentions. ALL wood is denser due to growth towards the middle as this is where it all starts and adds layers. As the tree gets into the 10-15 yr old stage it will start taking on size faster than as a junior/child....growth rings are very tight near the middle(junior/child stage). After the 10-15 yr stint the growth rings are effected more by weather/rain/dry in size BUT will usually be larger than jr years.Kinda like fat in animals, some years their body expects colder winters than others except with a tree it's locked in cells by the growth ring... anyhow the outside has more cell mass, so when we cut a cookie and dry the outside will dry/shrink faster (more would be the correct term) as there is more cells to remove water from thus causing checks or cracks (checks are normally smaller end from the end grain ) and the crack will always be basically a vee shape being to nothing towards/near the center/pithe


2) With burls the wood is very dense and not much "fatty" cells to hold moisture as between growth rings BUT it is harder to dry as it is touchy also. Vacuum kilns seem to handle them the best as it's a consistant pull on the MC at the same time as to a standard kiln/drying methods are pulling/drying from the outside relying on gravity to help...this is when you see casehardening from pulling moisture TOO FAST and the outside dries quicker than the inside, when it does catch up the wood is in tension. Some use steam to adjust BUT it's not a total cure.

Your cookie burl....WOW, lots of factors involved here. You had the cookie drying against it, you had a encircled burl around the cookie and maybe some fast kilning ( I AM NOT saying this was the driers fault!!!! WITHOUT seeing/knowing the stage of stress it was in prior kilning it's IMPOSSIBLE to determine) OR improper AD'ing.

I will tell you what caused the cracking in the odd shapes the did. With the original center being surrounded by burl (note the small burl cracks compared to the LARGE center cracks) the outside shrunk very little and the center was heavily stressed to have that many large cracks, normally a cookie will have one not 3-4....and also note how they spider out from the center pretty evenly. This cracking was GOING to happen BUT it might could've been more controlled/slower and not as extensive. I think I've read Jay White Cloud mention submerging in water after cutting to help waterlog the pore as they start to release moisture slowing the release and releaving stresses slowly....the fast action is the main part of cracks so large. Also I've read using green shavings surrounding the item sealed in kraft paper for slow evaporation. I think Jay and the timber framers use oil/tung oils to saturate larger timbers to slow the moisture evaporation controlling the cracks and stresses better (note I did not say eliminating them BUT controlling the action/reaction).

What would I have done different.....????? you gamble with cookies and you gamble with burls, PUT them both together as this and understand SOMETHINGS GONNA GIVE!!!

This can still be a BEAUTIFUL piece.....I favor the oil/wax look BUT with the extensive large cracks and doutty wood I would advise to epoxy it....THIS is not a cure all situation BUT would buy the piece some time of enjoyment.....IF you were starting from the beginning I'd say call Heritage natural finishes, oil it right off the bat and keep feeding it as it would lap it up like a thirsty puppy for a while.

Please note: When jay and I are talking oil it's not the mineral oil as a chopping block BUT mixtures that may have tung oil or linseed with other natural helpers in them. I use Waterlox which is tung oil based with other additives for my countertops. Other times I like the old Boiled Linseed Oil look, that dull sheen of just rubbed soft wood. I'm gonna try the Heritage finishes as they appear to have the lustre I desire with protection also.

Keep us posted AND PLEASE post some pics as your project progresses.
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post #5 of 37 Old 03-13-2018, 07:42 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, talk about information overload, lol. My brain is spinning early this morning. Thanks for the information, really interesting stuff. So i'm thinking about going with West end Systems and Transtint black dye, IMO it would be a nice contrast with Red Oak. Do you have any experience with bark? I would obviously like to keep it but not if its going to be a big hassle.

Thanks,
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post #6 of 37 Old 03-13-2018, 08:08 AM
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Wow, talk about information overload, lol. My brain is spinning early this morning. Thanks for the information, really interesting stuff. So i'm thinking about going with West end Systems and Transtint black dye, IMO it would be a nice contrast with Red Oak. Do you have any experience with bark? I would obviously like to keep it but not if its going to be a big hassle.

Thanks,
Is the bark coming off now? If it's not loose after being kiln drying it's not likely to come off.
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post #7 of 37 Old 03-13-2018, 08:38 AM
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Bark.....MY attempts and such, I find similar to Steve's posting is the bark stays better when winter cut than summer cut.....the ole timers (I'm now starting to be part of that GROUP!!!) around here have said the same opinion....SOME argue it has nothing to do with it.

I saw live-edge and leave bark on BUT I find oaks tend to lose it ....a standing dead as yours appears to have been normally loses it. IMO I would IF part is loose already remove it, The top will still be beautiful!!!
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post #8 of 37 Old 03-13-2018, 08:57 AM Thread Starter
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Actually the bark is pretty strong, there is a loose area here and there but overall pretty strong, my fear is as i'm getting closer to finishing the product that it may loosen more. I'd really love to keep it if possible, really gives it a nice look.
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post #9 of 37 Old 03-13-2018, 09:56 AM
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Hello Joe,

As you can see...lots of info!...I'll try and hit some key points again, and will check back in to see if you have more questions..

Tim pointed out some very key information in understanding much of this. The included bark ...which we see all the time in the Arborist and Sawyer trades...could have had as much to do with the severe checking as a poor drying process...As Tim stated...Its hard to tell from photos alone.

I have worked with many of these and related cookies...Being end grain some form of "checking tie" (aka bowtie patches) actually are critical in arresting the continued movement and deflection of the wood. Too many not experienced with these will not use them, or some other tying method and it may take decades before a problem arises...like when the piece is moved to a new location. They do not cause problems unless install incorrectly or without attention to detail as many just get stuck into a piece to..."look cool"...which is the wrong reason to use them.

Epoxies can help in some spots on such projects, in my experience they too (most?) often create problems way down the road for the piece. Epoxies, when employed, should be used sparingly, and like the "bowtie" employed with specific intent...not just in some attempt to glue everything together...As a finish, epoxy is a choice, but not reversible and that is the primary issue I have with them. When they do go bad, and with use they eventually do...the challenge in refinishing is often overwhelming...

Bark...

This seems to be important to you and your sense of aesthetics for the piece. As Tim has suggest, the reasons it stays on (or comes off) is not really agreed upon or understood? I just did a barn restoration project on 200 year old barn in Texas...bark on one beam...solid!!!...next beam over...falls off in you hand??!!

Keeping it on, and looking natural is an "industry trick" and most methods look plastic with gobs of epoxy and other adhesives oozing out...Not my style..or method. What we do with museum pieces or furniture like "Adirondack style" as an example, is to create some tie back or keying method between the bark and the primary wood underneath...The work is tedious, but highly effective. Small holes are drilled through the bark and a small way into solid wood. Tooth picks or very thin bamboo (my choice) is then dipped in glue and inserted. Once dry, these are snipped off with nail clippers or a pair of my Bonsai shears. If noticeable, color with a matching ink as found in good restoration kits, or from an Art's supply store. Water color paints can work also. If there is "bubble delamination" of the bark where there is not good contact, more ties might have to be created and adhesive injected under the bark to fill the void. Some will use a chair repair kit for this. For injection methods and around edges a light and sparing application of Cyanoacrylate (aka super glue) works well too.

Good Luck,

j
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post #10 of 37 Old 03-13-2018, 10:06 AM
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Small holes are drilled through the bark and a small way into solid wood. Tooth picks or very thin bamboo (my choice) is then dipped in glue and inserted. Once dry, these are snipped off with nail clippers or a pair of my Bonsai shears. If noticeable, color with a matching ink as found in good restoration kits, or from an Art's supply store. Water color paints can work also.
My brain is flipping back and forth as I imagine this level of detail work.... between a deep admiration for anyone who can develop the level of "Zen" involved in doing it and a realization that I'd go insane trying.

Kudos to you!

Redefining normal daily

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post #11 of 37 Old 03-13-2018, 10:15 AM
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My brain is flipping back and forth as I imagine this level of detail work.... between a deep admiration for anyone who can develop the level of "Zen" involved in doing it and a realization that I'd go insane trying.

Kudos to you!

Redefining normal daily
Brother...It is mind numbing sometime...!!!...

Thank the creator for Zen practices...I would have lost my "sh_ _ t" years ago if not for it....

I say take it off and live with the wood the way most often it wants to be when not a growing tree...barkless.

But...restoration work...is the art of proper conservation, and in some pieces the bark brings character that the piece wouldn't have otherwise...Like grape vine woven chairs...Eee Gaddds...!!!...what a freaking nightmare those can be....

Regards,

j
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Ok lets start with zero chance of me going through that process to keep the bark on, i'll give it a little while to see if the bark stays strong, if it starts to weaken then i'll remove.

Now i'm really torn between Tim's advice of epoxy or Jay's of bowties, the wood is pretty fragile in that certain area and i need it to be strong. I'm leaning towards epoxy because i think it will strengthen the wood better.
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post #13 of 37 Old 03-13-2018, 11:17 AM
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Ok lets start with zero chance of me going through that process to keep the bark on, i'll give it a little while to see if the bark stays strong, if it starts to weaken then i'll remove.

Now i'm really torn between Tim's advice of epoxy or Jay's of "bowties," the wood is pretty fragile in that certain area and i need it to be strong. I'm leaning towards epoxy because i think it will strengthen the wood better.
Please do use Epoxy...If that is your wish and feels to be a comfortable method you can employ...Note, not all epoxies are the same! Some are brittle some flexible...

I just suggest, if used...use it sparingly and specific to your targeted task. The "Bow-tie" are a mechanical system beyond just an adhesive like epoxy. Some even place them out of view, so they don't have to be visible. Joinery, is always going to be a good first choice over adhesive alone...

Regards,

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Thanks Jay, I am not a professional at all, I just want to use what will be the strongest hold. What do u think of some bow ties on the back side to bolster strength?
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post #15 of 37 Old 03-13-2018, 12:01 PM
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Thanks Jay, I am not a professional at all, I just want to use what will be the strongest hold. What do u think of some bow ties on the back side to bolster strength?
Excellent!

Understand, the mechanics of joinery, is always going to beat out adhesives alone. There are just to many real world instances where "glues fail" and there is nothing there to back up the work they...were doing.

With joinery, which bow-ties are, you have two independent systems working in concert. If you don't want to see them that is fine. Making ties that are 1/4 to 1/2 the depth of the wood to be mounted in key locations underneath should arrest any further distortion of the top. You can use an epoxy for this or simple wood glue.

On that note...a product like Tight Bond III can also be diluted with water and employed as a wood solidifier...in a pinch...and to save money. Frankly, I'm really not certain where epoxy is really needed on this unless going for the "wet look" and wanting to use it as a finish...Again a style and method I seldom recommend for such projects...It can have its place however...

Let me know if I can help further?

j
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I would much more prefer joinery over epoxy and if you think that is a stronger option then maybe thats the way i should go. I love the look of bow-ties. So if the thickness is 2" then you are saying that they should be 1/2 to 1" deep?
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post #17 of 37 Old 03-13-2018, 01:23 PM
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I would much more prefer joinery over epoxy and if you think that is a stronger option then maybe thats the way i should go. I love the look of bow-ties. So if the thickness is 2" then you are saying that they should be 1/2 to 1" deep?
Yep...

Read up on bow-tie...Let me know if I can go into more detail? Note, they are glued into place, not just friction alone. Well placed and fitted ones actually exert "pull together pressure" on the split by their geometry shape...

Saving your bark doesn't...have to be...as convoluted as I may have (??) made it sound. If you like it...keep it. For that small project securing it on should not take more than an hour...

j
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I have installed a few in the past so i am aware of them, what kind of contrasting wood would you use for them? I've read up a little and they say on Red Oak to either use white ash or Walnut, any opinions?
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post #19 of 37 Old 03-13-2018, 02:33 PM
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I have installed a few in the past so i am aware of them, what kind of contrasting wood would you use for them? I've read up a little and they say on Red Oak to either use white ash or Walnut, any opinions?
As a Designer Joe...and teacher...I regard this aspect as stylistic taste...and trend bearing...

I have seen some pretty "hideous and gaudy" contrasts done in wood...somethings I just can't stand at all...BUT!!!...When all said and done!...Guess what? It worked and the piece not only looks good, it wins awards...So style and taste is both cultural and individualistic...

For me, with a piece like yours, and I have a few coming up myself...I'm going to be using bone...so as you can tell...The skies the limit!

What do you like?

j

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I'm not color blind but I have problems matching what looks good together. What is the "bone" you're talking about?
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