How do you get mold out of a cut piece of log? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 10-31-2012, 01:34 AM Thread Starter
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Question How do you get mold out of a cut piece of log?

Hi Folks...I'm new here and have a question for you seasoned veterans....
Started making sliced pieces of oak (custom signs) for a craft show and discovered that SOMEtimes they grow mold. I've been told that washing it with a bleach solution will take care of that. I tried that and on some it works, others it doesn't. It's not a black mold it's a white fuzzy mold.
I've also been told that microwaving it would also work...but who has a microwave that can hold these slices...sometimes as large as 36"long x14" wide by about 2.5" thick.
We slice them on an angle so we get a good bark and it acts like a 'frame' for the rustic piece...coating it three times with polyurethane after sanding twice doesn't seem to suppress the 'mold' if there is any in the wood. Sometimes it has it sometimes it doesn't. We are working in a non-heated shed at this point and it's starting to get pretty cold out there...LOL!! I wouldn't THINK mold like that could grow in such cold weather but the same sort of mold grows on my left-overs sometimes in the fridge.
I guess my question is..how do I get rid of the mold and what should I use to seal the slices so it neither comes out if it or grows ON it once it's sealed?? Any thoughts and help would be GREATLY appreciated

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post #2 of 27 Old 10-31-2012, 06:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyCujo388 View Post
Hi Folks...I'm new here and have a question for you seasoned veterans....
Started making sliced pieces of oak (custom signs) for a craft show and discovered that SOMEtimes they grow mold. I've been told that washing it with a bleach solution will take care of that. I tried that and on some it works, others it doesn't. It's not a black mold it's a white fuzzy mold.

I've also been told that microwaving it would also work...but who has a microwave that can hold these slices...sometimes as large as 36"long x14" wide by about 2.5" thick.

We slice them on an angle so we get a good bark and it acts like a 'frame' for the rustic piece...coating it three times with polyurethane after sanding twice doesn't seem to suppress the 'mold' if there is any in the wood. Sometimes it has it sometimes it doesn't.

We are working in a non-heated shed at this point and it's starting to get pretty cold out there...LOL!! I wouldn't THINK mold like that could grow in such cold weather but the same sort of mold grows on my left-overs sometimes in the fridge.

I guess my question is..how do I get rid of the mold and what should I use to seal the slices so it neither comes out if it or grows ON it once it's sealed??

Any thoughts and help would be GREATLY appreciated

Forum Moderator...Please place this thread where it needs to be....not sure where it's sposta go. Thank you :)
You say you have washed in bleach solution and that only works part of the time.

What strength solution are you using? That is, how much cleach (and what type) in how much water.

If you google "killing mold on wood" you will find many articles that list a number of possible agents.

George
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post #3 of 27 Old 10-31-2012, 07:51 AM
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Mold usually grows as a result of moisture. It likes cool, dark places. You don't see it growing in direct sunlight. A refrigerator is cool and dark (when the door is shut) and so is your unheated shed since its outside and I'm sure you don't leave the lights on all night. Bleach will remove surface mold but if it's in the porous surface of wood it may not get it all. It might even come back later. How wet or green is the wood your working with?

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post #4 of 27 Old 10-31-2012, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by LadyCujo388 View Post
Hi Folks...I'm new here and have a question for you seasoned veterans....
Started making sliced pieces of oak (custom signs) for a craft show and discovered that SOMEtimes they grow mold. I've been told that washing it with a bleach solution will take care of that. I tried that and on some it works, others it doesn't. It's not a black mold it's a white fuzzy mold.
I've also been told that microwaving it would also work...but who has a microwave that can hold these slices...sometimes as large as 36"long x14" wide by about 2.5" thick.
We slice them on an angle so we get a good bark and it acts like a 'frame' for the rustic piece...coating it three times with polyurethane after sanding twice doesn't seem to suppress the 'mold' if there is any in the wood. Sometimes it has it sometimes it doesn't. We are working in a non-heated shed at this point and it's starting to get pretty cold out there...LOL!! I wouldn't THINK mold like that could grow in such cold weather but the same sort of mold grows on my left-overs sometimes in the fridge.
I guess my question is..how do I get rid of the mold and what should I use to seal the slices so it neither comes out if it or grows ON it once it's sealed?? Any thoughts and help would be GREATLY appreciated

Forum Moderator...Please place this thread where it needs to be....not sure where it's sposta go. Thank you :)
You didn't say if the wood is green, but i bet it is being the bark is still on ? If green mold will grow, Use kiln dried, Oak air dryed probly isn't dry it take a long time and still not dry, I used lot's of oak kiln dryed and never any mold of any kind, been doing wood for 60 yrs or so. my 2 cents
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post #5 of 27 Old 10-31-2012, 10:46 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, you guys are really on the ball and I SO appreciate your help!! The cold dark place makes a LOT of sense in the proliferation of mold....and you're RIGHT in assuming we don't have the lights on all night. The wood we're using is quite varied. When we first started this a 6 weeks ago, we traded filet'd walleye for two tree's that someone had for firewood use and we figured it was sitting there for about maybe 8mo or so...had NO clue when it was cut down. The first 'plaques we did turned out really well, just beautiful in fact with no mold. However, once chainsaw-cut on the angle, sanded twice, then sealed twice on both sides with polyurethane and then stenciled the names on...we let them dry in our "mud room" on shelves. A few of them had little bugs still INSIDE the wood and we'd see teeny tiny little bore holes where the bug had literally 'bugged out"...but no mold...yet.

Around here they do a LOT of logging and we tried to get things as cheap as possible. We finally went to a few places where we could get our wood DIRECT from the loggers. Not knowing much about what ewe were doing...we picked up some maple because it had some really nice bark. Nice bark is really the 'star' of the show as it makes the natural frame just gorgeous. Well maple was extremely difficult to work with as it's SO hard and even when we tried staining it...it sorely lacked the beautifully natural grain that the red oak does. Couldn't really use it tho no mold has appeared on those smaller pieces. Also, with the maple...we used at least a new sandpaper for EACH piece vs. one piece of paper for 5 pieces of oak....so we drop't that maple off to the fella that uses firewood for heat where we first bartered for our oak.

Anyways..we've made about 25 and given them away to relatives 'n friends and even sold a few online to friends on Facebook. Our first sale was to a buddy in the UK which we have not sent his out yet due to this problem. (he has his own lake and wanted a plaque for it) Most of these WILL be put up outdoors...as we have moved into putting photographs (provided) on the finished plaques. This is where we have begun to see the mold...on the ones that are kept inside and with the newly cut tree's. No one that has received a plaque has mentioned ANYTHING about the ones they keep outside having mold...YAY!!

As far as the bleach solution we're using, two parts water one part bleach and it's Clorox. He's also being cheap about it and using the same solution for piece after piece after piece. I TOLD him he's got to change that solution...was I right about that? The bug's...the bugs came out w/o ANY solution..and this was before we discovered any mold..we have not had that problem since but I think it was just that older wood that had been sitting there. We have had vacant spots in the wood meaning complete holes in the slices yet some of the holes in the pieces make it look really good. In fact we use them and some people have requested that they have the thru-and thru- holes in thier plaques...as it makes them much more rustic looking and that's what people up here are all about...rustic.

We'll be going to craft shows and flea markets this coming summer, hoping that this turns into a nice little business for a cupple of retiree's doing custom plaques but if we can't get the mold under control we'll hafta scrap it and only do the 'outdoor' signs/plaques. I'll TRY and post a few pictures of what we're doing if I can figure that out :)

A few minutes ago he called around to a few mills in the area about kiln drying the slices/slabs but that will probably non-cost effective...waiting on calls back and will let you know. I'm thinking we need more of of half and half solution and changing it out OFTEN. We have even used the bleach AFTER it's sealed and before it's sealed...it doesn't seem to affect the poly at all. We have our 1st craft show this wkd, probably a little too soon but we are looking to re-coop some of the money we've already put into this 'project' so we shall see what kind of orders we come up with and not 'push' the picture plaques vs. the outdoor ones....just to be on the safe side.

I REALLY appreciate ya'lls input and thoughts on this, ya know..googling this question came up with TONS of other things and you know how THAT goes pretty soon you're off into something totally different that you waste all your time on looking into and it doesn't answer your original question..haha. I thank you dear moderator for your links as well, it's ALL helpful to some degree

P.S. These are some examples of what we're doing in various stages of completion and YES the plaques are temporarily mounted on a rough cut privacy fence that WE made last summer. We're not new to working with wood exactly...but new to this type of genre.
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post #6 of 27 Old 10-31-2012, 08:08 PM
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If you were trying to post pictures, I don't think it worked. I can't see any.

If I'm understanding this right, you are just cross cutting logs into round slabs to make the signs from, correct? If so, then you basically have just all end grain wood showing on both sides. Provided that they aren't too thickly sliced then I'd think it would be fairly easy to dry them out once cut. End grain dries much faster than face grain or edge grain on a board when they're cut. You might have to come up with a way to hold them flat while drying so they don't warp but you could probably make your own kiln for drying them.

It might take a while to dry them out but once you got the first batch dried and usable, you could be using them while waiting on another batch to dry out. Just keep rotating the stock like that. Bring in new to get cut and dried, and use up some old that's already dried and ready to go.

Also, what kind of bugs were they? Hopefully not termites! That would be bad to bring in a bunch of those were you live.

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post #7 of 27 Old 10-31-2012, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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NO my pix dint post, I'll figure this thing out before too long....I'll go and look at the thread..."posting pictures"...DUH :)

Hubby said they were wax worms, the same kind he uses for ice fishing and he HAS come across some termites before and left those outside to take back to the 'vendor' to be burned.

He DID call around to a few mills in the area and kiln drying them would be kinda iffy and expensive if we sub'd that part out....and we do NOT want the bark to fall off of the slices....that's a very important part of these pieces. Once I am able to post pix you'll see why, the stuff is GORGEOUS.
It seems the smaller/thinner slices crack more than the thin ones...at least that's what we've seen happen so far. One of the first (on the thin side about 1") ones sat on the shelf for a while and we took it down the other day and it was cracked almost completely in half. The thin one that was about 1.5" thick is the one that warp't and cracked terribly...none have cracked that were more than 2" thick...so far. Don't want that to happen and end up replacing too many of them. We DO have a disclaimer on our order sheet's about wood being a natural product and each piece will age differently according to the weather conditions they are subject to...yada yada yada.

He is going to modify the shed out back...build some drying racks and hook up some juice so we can keep the lights on in there. At the moment the shed is totally unused and empty as our garage is starting to fill up rather quickly. It's not heated or insulated either and DOES have some natural sunlight coming thru the windows and big barn-like doors. The garage being attached to the house is a kind of bad thing as far as the cutting/sanding dust goes...gotta dust WAY too often now...haha.

We do have reports that the folks who already HAVE thier plaques displayed outdoors...have ZERO mold on them and the ones we have on our garage are fine as well...we're just a bit anxious to see how they fair thru the winters up here which are usually about 6mo long.

(I never saw the "upload" tab for the pix....I feel stupid sometimes...haha)
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post #8 of 27 Old 10-31-2012, 09:11 PM
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Got pics now. Those are cool. The pet caskets are just to creepy for me. Where are you getting these slices from? Not from northern Wisconsin?
I'm guessing your primary home? At what time of year are you guys cutting these? Time of year plays a big role in keeping the bark on. Winter cut the bark seems to hold tight. Spring and summer tends to fall off due to high pitch. Oak is kind of funny in the way it dries. It likes to cup, bow, and check. Its not an unforgiving species in my opinion.
Hope you can figure this out. Good luck.

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Last edited by Dominick; 10-31-2012 at 09:14 PM.
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post #9 of 27 Old 10-31-2012, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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We just started this about 6 weeks ago, the pet caskets we did last summer and have sold 2 of those already @ $70 a piece. Sure came in handy last week, it was the "Booger" casket that we used. We'll have them displayed at the show this wkd just not ON the table cuz like you said Dominick..they are a bit creepy.

We've planned on doing two show's weekly up here for the tourista's that summer up here, one at a flea market and one at an antique mall. He can stencil the names right on there while the customer waits...and they can take it WITH THEM after the sale...so no shipping charges which btw are pretty hefty charges. The one that's going to Sussex England..the shipping is $76 and the plaque is only $40. Small plaques are $30. Custom made boxes for each (large) one because they ARE different sizes. The small ones will fit in the "if it fits it ships" boxes from the PO and are only at the most...$15 anywhere in the country. We went from doing the names...to house number plaques and now the picture plaques..hopefully that's all we'll do this year. Re-doing the master order sheets and brochures is going to drive me insane..still a very short drive..haha.

YES we are getting them right down the road from us and/or within two miles of here. They SAY it's red oak...white oak grows further downstate and you would never find it up here naturally. And yes we've experienced the cupping and bowing but they get re-sanded to stay flat for the pix. Stenciled names on them...are a little tougher to get on there straight if it's curvy like that.

Here's a few more pix for ya'll since I figured it out I'll post some more :)

P.S. This IS our primary home...the only one we have actually. We have not had any pitch problems YET but we hope to prep several for the summers sales....and we're about to put out some brochures in the local stores so we'll see just what kind of orders we can get taken care of before Christmas.
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post #10 of 27 Old 10-31-2012, 10:17 PM
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Mold has nothing to do with kiln or not. Wood if over 20 % moisture will let mold that is always present, grow. Air dried wood outside is usually below 12% so mold will not be a problem. Any wood or cellulose like paper if allowed to get moist over 20 % will start to mold. Anything damp is too wet.
Chlorine bleach will kill mold but getting it dry is the way to PREVENT it. The spores are everywhere and only need the right(or wrong) conditions to grow.
Fresh cut wood has to get the surface dry quickly to prevent sticker staining- from mold. A basement that has leaks or condensation will allow mold to grow.
Get your projects at least surface dried quickly and avoid using wet wood.
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Once we get a few 8-10' logs...we DO cut them right away and start drying them asap...meaning a fan going all the time in the garage but that's all we have at the moment....we're learning as we go and with helpful folks like you MidlandBob and the rest of ya'll we'll get this little business up and running with hardly ANY snags
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post #12 of 27 Old 10-31-2012, 11:04 PM
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The garage works fine but you can't rush it. If its cut to 1 inch or so and sticker end with 1 inch stickers with a very gentle circulation, it will dry to equilibrium with the garage humidity to about 10-12% over 6 months. It will be below 20 % in a few months. I use a SMALL oscillating fan on the side of the stack. You're just trying to make the drying even not fast.
You could bring narrow board inside to dry in 3-4 months. If you don't have a moisture meter, weight a sizeable board weekly and you'll see the weight stop dropping in a few months. I used to write the wgt on a 5 -10 pound board with a pencil.
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post #13 of 27 Old 10-31-2012, 11:26 PM
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Oak, especially the end grain has very open pores. It is possible to run a water hose against one end and have the water drain out through the wood. I suggest that to be sure that the mold is completely killed that you soak the pieces in a strong bleach solution of 2 parts bleach to 1 part water. Soak them over night and then dry them in a rack with constant heat and light. Get yourself a moisture meter and check them every other day. Once they are dry enough, sand and use a sealer like shellac. This will keep the mold from growing back should it survive the bleaching. Now go ahead and engrave whatever you like in them and once the engraving has been made, use either a polyurethane or spar varnish as the top coats.

BTW, those look really nice.

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It takes THAT long to dry evenly Johnnie?? When we wash them with the bleach solution...some of them have only been sanded and not sealed with ANYthing yet..tho some have grown the mold even with the sealer on it. At the moment we've used ONLY polyurethane as a sealer but thinking about a higher gloss type of a sealer. The poly DOES soak in no matter what you use, indoor/outdoor..either kind. Now, we HAVE bleached washed them WITH 3 coats of poly ALREADY ON THEM and it does nothing to the poly however it does make it a bit soft for a day..and then re-hardens back up solid again.

There is no engraving or digging into the wood, believe it or not...what we use is heavy duty/industrial BLACK sharpie and stencils for the lettering on TOP of the 3rd coat of poly...and for the picture plaques we seal the photo's into the last coat of poly...that's it. Quite simple and ingenious actually, both cheap AND effective. The fern leaves and pine tree's that are applied are also on the TOP of the 3rd coat of poly and spray painted on with stencils....I personally...do NOT like the tree's but I DO favor the fern leaves.

We use a painters tape to line up the stencils/lettering and put it on the plaque...everything else left marks...and our own judgement arranging the words so it's balanced out. Thanks for the compliment I really like them too. The picture plaques will be INSIDE houses so there should be no problem with mold as they are usually pretty well lit and air circulation isn't a problem....I hope :)

One more thing about photo application...you MUST use NEW photo's...older photo's tend to curl up on you. SO if you're going to try it make sure you use the newer photo's with a moister type paper. We just got done with some older photo pix of someones trophy buck and a trophy bear...and we had a dickens of a time getting them to lay flat!! I have not check't on them lately and I'll lay down my last dollar they've curled up again...they will get the super-glue treatment and ANOTHER coat of poly on there and see what happens :D

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post #15 of 27 Old 10-31-2012, 11:53 PM
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Lady cujo, here's a link on PEG. It may help you understand drying and treating your cuts. It's long but very informative. Check it out. http://owic.oregonstate.edu/sites/de...s/pubs/peg.pdf

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post #16 of 27 Old 11-01-2012, 12:02 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Dominick..I WILL read it
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post #17 of 27 Old 11-01-2012, 12:06 AM
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Your welcome.
Enjoy.

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post #18 of 27 Old 11-01-2012, 12:17 AM
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I think for anything outdoors I would use weather resistant paint to do the lettering. Sharpie marker ink that just dries on the surface and is not absorbed will flake off after a time. I've used them to mark some of my metal tools with information related to the tools (weights, sizes, just anything I may need to know). The metal doesn't absorb it. Also used to temporarily paint a fishing lure. It doesn't last forever or really even a long time, and has to be reapplied. Now granted, these things are being used and handled where a sign just hangs there untouched, but they arent being exposed to the UV rays of the sun continuously either as a sign or address plaque might be. In time the ink would probably come off leaving just a blank sign. Have you considered a plunge router for engraving them?
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Not until now Duane...isn't poly porous to some extent? Since the bleach penetrates it and yet it dries back out to a nice hard finish..in a day or so. Our sign is under the eaves basically and I've seen where our outdoor signs have hung so far and none of them are REALLY exposed to UV light...people seem to protect them a little bit. (even the ones we just gave away and they didn't pay for) We made one for a lodge up here and it WAS for the outside of his bar/rest but he brought it inside and put it behind the bar because he liked looking at it so much :) We added it up the other day...we've given away more than 25 of them already...no one has had a problem with them....yet. At least they have not said anything to us about it SO FAR...but it's EARLY yet. I want the suggestions to keep on coming....FOR REAL!!

When we first started making the pet caskets he DID hafta go to a mill and get some wood router'd since we don't have one yet...but that's an interesting idea for the plaques and ask him about it tomorrow. So what would make the letters stand out (like they do now) if we did that?

We also made two for the guy across the street that we traded the walleye for his 'firewood' that we started doing these plaques with...he keeps his inside as well. He also runs a resort with cabins that he keeps that sign inside too so people can see it and it's advertisement for his cabins. It's pretty early to tell what they are going to do, but we do not guarantee them and that's ON the receipt...but would be happy to replace one if they were cracked or something. I guess....if the lettering ended up disappearing..they could use whatever they wanted on there again.

Myself, I think we should make the blank ones available as well and folks could do whatever THEY want to do with them. I DO have an artist interested in buying blanks so she could do paintings on them and sell them herself. Lots of uses for them...like perhaps putting their own clock faces and mechanism's on there...whatever they want. Cuz once it's theirs..it's theirs to do with whatever they want....and deal with the consequences for whatever they DO with it
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Inside and protected they should last indefinitely. They might even hold up more if you put another layer of poly on over the letters after you mark them out. It can't flake off if it's below another layer. You'd have to experiment with that to see how it affects the lettering though. I don't know if it would smear them or not. I also don't know if poly is porous or not. I'd imagine some, but how much? you might try a paint pen as well. works like a marker but is paint instead of ink. As for lettering with a router, you could paint the letters black after they're hollowed out. If you really want to get wild, you could rout out everything else BUT the letters and leave them standing up. Doing that, I'd start with an extra thick blank though, so the final product is still thick enough to resist warps and splits. Maybe charge more for one of those since it takes extra material and time. You wouldn't get as many out of a log slicing them extra thick.

There are many different bits for routers. You could carve designs into them, or get a pantograph to use with it and make raised up, 3 dimensional images on them as well. It would be like a carved out painting. To some degree, some of this could be done with a Dremel tool as well.

Last edited by Duane Bledsoe; 11-01-2012 at 08:05 AM.
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