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post #1 of 23 Old 01-03-2009, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
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Drying wood

Hello All

newbie here
I had a large red oak taken down near the house the other day and sawed off about a dozen slabs 1-1/2 inches thick that I'd like to dry so I can make something yet to be determined from them. these are crosscut slabs so you can see the tree rings. anybody have a good idea how to dry them so they don't check? I was thinking of painting the end grain to slow the drying process. better ideas are welcome.

Dave
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post #2 of 23 Old 01-04-2009, 08:33 AM
 
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Welcome Dave,

If the resulting pieces are round and crosscut from the log then we usually call them cookies or disks. They are very difficuly to dry without splitting. This is because as wood dries it shrinks across the growth rings. If you measure around the outermost growth ring you'll find it's many times longer than the distance around any peticular growth ring near the center. Something has got to give as the center shrinks less than the edge. And species that shrink a lot during drying, like red oak, are even more prone to splitting. You may get lucky and find a rare tree that will somehow get through the drying with little problems. But expect nearly 100% of the pieces to have one or more large checks in them.

Here's a link that shows some examples: http://nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/rp/rp_nc228.pdf

Sealing the end grain can slow this process and maybe keep some from splitting open. They start to dry as soon as they're cut. You'll be surprised how fast this problem will happen. It's probably allready too late. Most paints are designed to let moisture through and aren't going to form a good enough seal. Wax based sealers are much better for this demanding application. Bee's wax, parrafin and Anchorseal are the top three.

This is the best time of year for air drying difficult woods in Northern lattitudes. Stack them somewhere out of the direct sun. The location ought to be cool and dry, but airy like an old shed, barn or carport. Keep them at least 1' off the ground and place stickers between them so air can flow all around them.
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post #3 of 23 Old 01-04-2009, 08:37 AM
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What dirtclod said. And oak is going to be tough to keep in one piece. It is straight grained and splits very easy (if you ever split firewood you know just how easy) compared to other species. That's not a total deal breaker depending on what you have planned for them, if they check (and they will) that is natural and adds character.
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post #4 of 23 Old 01-04-2009, 08:47 AM
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Hi Dave,

I will depart slightly from what my esteemed colleagues have said but only slightly. From my experience the big thing you have in your corner is that the cookies are thin. If they were 3" to 4" and better in thickness you'd have some loss.

Don't coat them with paint.Especially latex. Latex paint has been engineered to be able to breathe so as not to trap moisture between the painted surface and the paint itslef; the exact thing you want to do when you seal end grain. Use Anchor Seal or some other suitable log sealer.

You should have sealed them immediately though. Thin cookies begin their destructive moisture-releasing immediately and even though the damage may not be apparent yet, there are micro-fissures which must be arrested immediately.

Red oak should not be as bad as White Oak either so if you get them coated before you see these tiny cracks, before they become checks, you might be okay. But you have got to get a thick coat of wax sealer on them now.

You can stand them upright leaning against one another in a sdahy place with no sun, and a humid place will actually help for the first few weeks, them move them to a place less humid but still out of the sun. Coat them thick and your loss should be minimal.

YMMV

Last edited by TexasTimbers; 01-04-2009 at 08:52 AM. Reason: Accidentally hit submit halfway through.
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post #5 of 23 Old 01-04-2009, 02:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Folks

I'll put em in a trashcan of water and go find some sealer

Dave
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post #6 of 23 Old 01-04-2009, 10:42 PM
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Just out of curiousity, I have several maple disks 1/2" to about 2 1/2" thick that I took off a tree I felled in the yard last fall and all of them dried fairly quickly with no checks at all. Did I just get lucky or does maple not check as badly?
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post #7 of 23 Old 01-04-2009, 10:53 PM
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Did I just get lucky or does maple not check as badly?
Maple has more interlocking grain so you had that working for you, and maybe a little luck
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post #8 of 23 Old 01-06-2009, 06:18 AM
 
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One thing I will be trying with my cookies is cutting a relief split in them from the outside to the center. Sacrifice one cookie to cut wedges from. When they are dry, cut wedges to fit the wedge represented by the drying loss. By cutting the "check" you control the shrinkage to one spot. Gluing in a wedge to replace the drying loss hopefully will be nearly invisible. Haven't done it yet, so don't know if it works.
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post #9 of 23 Old 01-06-2009, 10:04 AM
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You might be borrowing worry. You should try to dry them first and see if they split or not. Seal them with wax well and let them sit around and see what gives. Something else y'all all should remember also is, just because a cookie splits doesn't mean it's ruined. It gives you a chance to be artistic.

This is a cookie that was made by Jim King in Peru. After he installs the butterflies, he mixes sawdust and poly glue together to fill the rest of the cracks. Always charge more for work that has inlaid butterflies, so you can actually use the cracked cookies to your advantage. You might even coat 3/4 of the cookie to hope it does check naturally.
Visit Daren's gallery to see inlaid butterflies used to make cracked boards really stand out.

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post #10 of 23 Old 11-16-2009, 02:35 PM
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Anna (very much a nubie)

I made a tree table with white oak as the pedestal and red oak as the top. The pedestal was dried under my front porch sitting in a tin wash pot for several years and did not check (most of the bark stayed on as well). The cookie I brought inside the laundry room (heat and humidity) and it checked with fine lines. Most of the bark stayed intact and I sealed it with poly after much sanding. I think the table is beautiful, even tho checked, and have gotten many compliments. If I knew how to post a picture on this site, I would!
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post #11 of 23 Old 11-16-2009, 02:46 PM
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Welcome Anna. I have some white oak cookies drying right now (in the house with the furnace running), they are checking but not busting too badly. I hope to make a couple small tables myself. Here is a link for you. http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f16/h...t-photos-1120/
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post #12 of 23 Old 11-17-2009, 03:17 PM
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Darren, thanks for the info. I'll try and see what happens!Drying wood-tree-table-003.jpg

Drying wood-tree-table-004.jpg

Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks. Anna
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post #13 of 23 Old 11-17-2009, 03:53 PM
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Anna that's spectacular. I too love the checks, they add to the character. Just guessing, but looks like ~ 80 to 100 rings in it?
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post #14 of 23 Old 11-17-2009, 07:06 PM
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. Seal them with wax well and let them sit around and see what gives.
Were is a good place to buy wax? I have only ever seen caning wax. I would think that would get expensive. I am going to have allot of turning blanks to coat.

James
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post #15 of 23 Old 11-18-2009, 08:30 AM
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I personally use this stuff Anchorseal It is kinda pricey, but works well for endsealing logs/lumber and the endgrain on turning stock. I have heard others mention similar products that seem to be less expensive but I have no experience with them. Maybe someone else will chime in because quite frankly I forgot the name of the other product.
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post #16 of 23 Old 11-18-2009, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daren View Post
I personally use this stuff Anchorseal It is kinda pricey, but works well for endsealing logs/lumber and the endgrain on turning stock. I have heard others mention similar products that seem to be less expensive but I have no experience with them. Maybe someone else will chime in because quite frankly I forgot the name of the other product.
I always thought that Anchorseal was white. Turns out the regular is clear and pigmented is extra. Woodcraft has the best price $21 for a gal and they have free shipping from there web site at the moment. I am heading to my local store now.

Will the grain pattern show well though it or will I need to take photos before sealing?

James
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post #17 of 23 Old 11-18-2009, 01:51 PM
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Pictures before sealing are better.
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post #18 of 23 Old 11-18-2009, 09:28 PM
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I purchased a gallon of the Anchorseal. This stuff is really white. I wonder if there is a new formula because there web site says clear.

I was looking at some of the turning stock at Woodcraft. Would that be paraffin that they use to seal the blanks. You can still make out the grain pretty good.

James
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post #19 of 23 Old 11-19-2009, 08:55 AM
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It dries clear James. Not like clear coat but like looking through a thin layer of milk. You can see the rings and wood character good enough to make cutting decisions etc.
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post #20 of 23 Old 02-02-2010, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drobbins View Post
Hello All

newbie here
I had a large red oak taken down near the house the other day and sawed off about a dozen slabs 1-1/2 inches thick that I'd like to dry so I can make something yet to be determined from them. these are crosscut slabs so you can see the tree rings. anybody have a good idea how to dry them so they don't check? I was thinking of painting the end grain to slow the drying process. better ideas are welcome.

Dave

I did something like that with a pine tree from my front yard. It was winter time and when my sons and I were done with about 15 to 20 cookies we placed them on the floor of the garage under some shelving. They were out of sight, sun, wind and out of my mind of two summers. When I found them only two had bad cracks and were used for firewood. The others were ok, no cracks and dry enouth to plan down to the thickness I wanted and did some scroll sawing with them.
I have a cherry log that I want to dry. I will try out what I did with the pine cookies.
Good Luck
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