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post #1 of 6 Old 01-12-2010, 02:02 PM Thread Starter
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Question Drying time?

Alright, so I always read/see/hear about drying a piece out, sometimes up to a year. Someone help me out here? I'm so new to this and I really don't want to screw up.

If I buy a block of exotic wood from a local store and it's covered in wax, can I turn immediately? Then how long do I dry it before finishing it?

What if I use a log from a fresh cut tree? Or from one that's fallen recently?

TIA (again),

~L
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post #2 of 6 Old 01-12-2010, 04:02 PM
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You can rough turn your green bowl blanks, but leave them THICK and be prepared for cracks and movement. Many people will rough turn a green blank and then put it in a brown paper bag with the shavings for several months or longer.

Never assume that blanks are dried unless they're specifically sold that way (rare). Remove the wax from the face grain for drying, but leave the end grain waxed...Otherwise you're guaranteed it'll crack to some degree.

Drying is a slooooow process. For freshly cut lumber, plan on a year of drying per inch of thickness. End grain should always be waxed, painted or sealed with anchor seal.

Do some online research of drying blanks using denatured alcohol. It works pretty well on some woods, not at all on others. It still isn't super fast, but it is faster than conventional air drying.
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post #3 of 6 Old 01-12-2010, 08:29 PM
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First of all, I assume that any wood that is completely waxed, is green. It may not be but if it is and you treat it like dry wood it will check. Better to be on the safe side.
Wood takes roughly a year per inch to dry. This is really highly variable. It's been my experience that a bowl will dry in 3 to 6 months if left about an inch thick.
The trick to drying is to let it dry evenly. If you turn all of the walls of the bowl including the bottom to the same thickness you even out the release of moisture so everything shrinks at the same time. What causes checks is part of the bowl drying and shrinking and part of it still wet which stays the same size. This uneven shrinkage causes the wood to warp or to crack.
To slow down the drying time keep it away from heat and air movement. I tried putting bowls in bags with shavings. I just got very moldy bowls. I coat the end grain areas with endgrain sealer such as Anchorseal and then put the bowl in a paper sack or some area where there isn't much air movement. Sometimes I'll put several in a box. I let them dry like this for a month or so and then I pull them out for further drying. If you must know weigh them every so often. When they stop losing weight they are dry.
If you want to turn it thin enough you can turn it green and let it dry on it's own. This will work on many woods at 1/2" thick but I put it in a paper sack for several days to reduce the chances of checking. If I turn it 3/8" or thinner it will usually just warp and not check unless it's a fruit wood.
You can usually just turn away the wax. If you need to glue a wasteblock to it you might have to scraper or plane the wax off in that area. The you can use mineral spirits to clean off more wax.
Turning green wood is always a little risky. The more experience you get the better your chances of not getting cracked bowls.
One last tip. If your new to turning it might take a while to turn the bowl. It can actually start cracking during the turning. Spray it frequently with water if necessary to keep it from drying until you get done. If you stop to take a break cover it with plastic. This will keep it moist for a day or so but if you leave it too long it will mold.
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post #4 of 6 Old 01-13-2010, 11:08 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john lucas View Post
The trick to drying is to let it dry evenly. If you turn all of the walls of the bowl including the bottom to the same thickness you even out the release of moisture so everything shrinks at the same time.
Ok, so..since I'm starting by turning bracelets, they'll be uniform all the way around, as there is no bottom, and they're never really all that thick, so drying time shouldn't be quite as bad as for a larger piece and drying evenly shouldn't be too much of an issue, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by john lucas View Post
Turning green wood is always a little risky.
What should I be turning? Right now I'm using blocks of exotics bought at Woodcraft. I was excited and started turning right away. Should I remove wax and let dry for a certain amount of time before turning?

My next question is going to show how truly "green" I am; How do I know what the end grain is on a block of wood from a store? I get the concept on raw logs, but blocks..not so sure...
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post #5 of 6 Old 01-13-2010, 12:50 PM
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I forgot you were turning bracelets. Since these are pretty thin I think they would dry without cracking. They may go oval depending on which direction they were cut from the log.
It can be tricky finding the end grain on wood that is cut square and you don't know where it came from. If you can imagine a piece of a 2x4 or just a wide flat board, look at the end and compare it to the sides. There should be a noticeable difference. End grain usually has little dots that are the ends of the soda straws that make up the path that the tree uses to get the sap up through the log.
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post #6 of 6 Old 01-13-2010, 12:56 PM
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I forgot to answer your other question. You probably don't have to remove the wax because it will be turned away. If you have to glue something to the blank then you will have to remove the wax in that area. Most of the time I mount the wood between centers and turn a flat spot for the glue block. That gets rid of the wax.
If you turn bracelets very thin they you will have some short grain that can break. Many people who turn bracelets to them by stacking several layers of thin wood with the grain running in opposite directions. This works more like plywood and is very solid.
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