Finishing Natural Edge (with bark?) - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 05-30-2019, 08:16 AM Thread Starter
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Finishing Natural Edge (with bark?)

Turned a Hornbeam burl the other day. This is my first attempt at something like this.

Right now it’s turned thick and in a paper bag to dry. So assuming the bark survives that what would anyone recommend? I was thinking Danish Oil might soak in and garden enough to stabilize it a little. Or should I give up and go ahead and take the bark off?

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post #2 of 13 Old 05-30-2019, 10:37 AM
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All the Danish oil might do is slow the drying time down a little. Might reduce the possibility of it cracking too.

Whether the bark stays on or not usually depends on what time of year the tree was cut down. If the tree was cut in winter when it was dormant it stands a better chance of retaining the bark.
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post #3 of 13 Old 05-31-2019, 02:45 PM
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I don't know anything about preserving bark, but the turning is absolutely stunning!
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post #4 of 13 Old 06-01-2019, 10:40 AM
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I have read that you should put shavings in the bag also. You should weigh it now and check it's weight every week or so. You can buy a digital scale pretty cheap on Ebay if you don't have one. I hope someone will correct me or add to what I have posted. I am new to turning.
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post #5 of 13 Old 06-01-2019, 12:46 PM
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When was the tree cut? That will largely determine your success of retaining the bark. Generallly, winter gives you the best odds.

The other thing that you can do is to use thin CA between the bark and sapwood to help keep it on. Just drip it on and let the wood soak it in. Don't use an accelerator so it has the opportunity to get in as far as possible. Finally, use a spray finish such as polyurethane over the bark to get an even finish.

Good luck, and after all that if you find it coming off you can either try more CA or remount the piece and take it all off.
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post #6 of 13 Old 06-01-2019, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
All the Danish oil might do is slow the drying time down a little. Might reduce the possibility of it cracking too.

Whether the bark stays on or not usually depends on what time of year the tree was cut down. If the tree was cut in winter when it was dormant it stands a better chance of retaining the bark.
I was actually thinking the danish oil applied after it's done drying. More to toughen the bark against handling, maybe?

It was cut about March as far as I know. Early enough that the sap wasn't running.

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I don't know anything about preserving bark, but the turning is absolutely stunning!
Thanks! I'm happy with the way it's turned out so far. (Ha "turned", get it )

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I have read that you should put shavings in the bag also. You should weigh it now and check it's weight every week or so. You can buy a digital scale pretty cheap on Ebay if you don't have one. I hope someone will correct me or add to what I have posted. I am new to turning.
I don't usually put shavings in the bag. But you are correct that's something some people do to hold more moisture. The paper bag and shavings are just meant to keep the moisture from escaping so fast, to give it time to equalize across the bowl. Because if one part dries and shrinks faster than another bad things happen.

I just weighed it today. Hadn't earlier because I have to borrow the kitchen scale to do it. So I'll see when it stops losing weight and I can call it dry.

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When was the tree cut? That will largely determine your success of retaining the bark. Generallly, winter gives you the best odds.

The other thing that you can do is to use thin CA between the bark and sapwood to help keep it on. Just drip it on and let the wood soak it in. Don't use an accelerator so it has the opportunity to get in as far as possible. Finally, use a spray finish such as polyurethane over the bark to get an even finish.

Good luck, and after all that if you find it coming off you can either try more CA or remount the piece and take it all off.
The CA is a good idea. Especially if it's just starting to peel in one area. If it eventually seems like it really doesn't want to hold I'll probably just peel the bark off and leave it with a natural barkless edge.

The top coat is actually more what I'd intended the question to be. I worry that poly would pool up in some of the deeper crevices and not look the best. That's why I was thinking danish oil, it definitely won't cake up. Spray poly is a good idea, if I can manage a reasonably even coat and get some in the crevices, have to test on a scrap. It hardening over the bark would definitely give some barrier against hands like I want.

The blank was in my shop for almost a month, and it's been turned for over a week. Still round as far as I can tell and absolutely no signs of cracking or checking.

Thanks everyone!

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post #7 of 13 Old 06-01-2019, 05:07 PM
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The Danish oil finish usually is a mixture of linseed oil and tung oil. These are hardening oils which is also used in making varnishes. When a tree is cut as it dries the endgrain tends to crack because the ends dry a lot faster than the middle. To prevent this sometimes the ends of the logs are coated with wax on the ends before it is even cut into lumber. The wax on the ends helps prevent the ends of the wood from drying too fast and lessens the chance of it splitting. If you looked at wood through a microscope it would look like a cluster of drinking straws so anything that would plug the end grain would help. This is why I said the Danish oil might help because it would be like coating the end grain with a thin varnish. Unless you were planning to use stain it certainly wouldn't hurt anything to use Danish oil on it. You couldn't use wax like they use on logs unless you were going to finish with wax. You might read up on Anchorseal. It might give a better explanation than I have. https://uccoatings.com/products/anchorseal/

Nothing is going to help or hurt the bark. If it's going to come off it will come off. About all you can do is glue it back on.
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post #8 of 13 Old 06-02-2019, 11:05 AM
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I used Pentacryl on a log I recently got for a future turning. It’s applied with a brush with repeated coats. The coating process was kind of a pain, but no cracks so far. 🤞
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post #9 of 13 Old 06-04-2019, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
The Danish oil finish usually is a mixture of linseed oil and tung oil. These are hardening oils which is also used in making varnishes. When a tree is cut as it dries the endgrain tends to crack because the ends dry a lot faster than the middle. To prevent this sometimes the ends of the logs are coated with wax on the ends before it is even cut into lumber. The wax on the ends helps prevent the ends of the wood from drying too fast and lessens the chance of it splitting. If you looked at wood through a microscope it would look like a cluster of drinking straws so anything that would plug the end grain would help. This is why I said the Danish oil might help because it would be like coating the end grain with a thin varnish. Unless you were planning to use stain it certainly wouldn't hurt anything to use Danish oil on it. You couldn't use wax like they use on logs unless you were going to finish with wax. You might read up on Anchorseal. It might give a better explanation than I have. https://uccoatings.com/products/anchorseal/

Nothing is going to help or hurt the bark. If it's going to come off it will come off. About all you can do is glue it back on.
Thank you for the explanation. We've used Anchorseal at work before to coat the ends of logs, so I'm aware of the process and thinking.

Wishful thinking, I suppose, to think I can do anything to make the bark stay on. Just wondering now about stiffening it up so it will be less likely to chip/crumble off in little bits if people pick it up and handle it too aggressively.

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I used Pentacryl on a log I recently got for a future turning. Itís applied with a brush with repeated coats. The coating process was kind of a pain, but no cracks so far. 🤞
That looks pretty interesting. About like what I was thinking with the Danish Oil, something to soak in and stabilize it a little. Did the Pentacryl change the color of the wood much?

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post #10 of 13 Old 06-04-2019, 10:40 PM
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Unless you are making something to give away or sell ignore the bark. If it starts coming off then deal with it.
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post #11 of 13 Old 06-08-2019, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TwelveFoot View Post
Turned a Hornbeam burl the other day. This is my first attempt at something like this.

Right now it’s turned thick and in a paper bag to dry. So assuming the bark survives that what would anyone recommend? I was thinking Danish Oil might soak in and garden enough to stabilize it a little. Or should I give up and go ahead and take the bark off?

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Hello Mark,

Thank you for permission to post...

First, that looks like it could turn out to be a really stunning piece! Horn
beam is a wonderful wood in general, but can be reactionary in nature, especially in the more figure grain of burls, birds-eye, ripple, etc. as you probably already know or have found out.

SLOWING THE DRYING PROCESS:

As per our short offline discussion, I store my project that need to take time to dry underwater whenever possible. This is both a proven and acient method of arresting the process of drying in wood. Logs harvested out of swamps, rivers, lakes and even in the ocean in some rare conditions are some of the most valuable wood to be acquired and pleasure to work with. I will (and have) store logs, bolts and cants in the mill pond for months to years, until time for final milling. Water, over time, allows wood to relax and for the general cellular structure to loose interstitial stress that in has. The water, if given enough time, will permeate the entire piece of wood (or entire tree) there by generating an overall condition of homeostasis within the wood cellular matrix. Stress may, in certain species and grain patters be present, just as before, however they are vastly mitigated and much more manageable than when in a..."fresh off the stump"...condition.

Also per our offline short discussion, no...I don't ever use mineral oil on my wood. I don't care for petroleum based products in general and tend to only use natural and/or traditional materials/finishes. The blend (Heritage Finishes) I use on wood turning stock (if not under water...LOL...) is a mix of pure food grade beeswax, tung, flax and some citrus oil (a penetrating oil as well as carrier agent) all augmented with pine rosin. This blend does a really good job (though more costly than most) of slowing and/or completely arresting the drying of your turning stock. I have used Anchorseal, but do not find in better in any way and the traditional blend above is superior in nature, though more expensive.

As you are learning, wood in general does not like to dry fast, or at uneven pass with the wood around it. When it does we see distortion and/or checking. In there own reality, neither distortion nor checking are a real issue. Well learned and/or traditional woodworkers actually use and rely on some of this distortion and checking to make there joinery, and use of the wood to benefit the project they have selected for it. In other projects, it has to either be expected and planned for or...mitigated to the greatest amount possible.

BARK RETENTION:

Inexperience (ignorance of traditional woodworking methods) are the primary reason most fail to keep bark on their projects when that is the desired goal and affect for a project. Getting bark off a piece of wood can be done more easily with the wood is "running sap" but only in some species...NOT ALL. Further, unless a tree is frozen solid, the bark is often the loosest in mid to late winter...and tightest to the trunk in summer-early Fall...but this, again, is regional and/or species specific; and often only a marginal consideration or issue either way. Soaking in wood water does tend to loosen bark in most species, yet it does it more evenly and very often in one entire and intact section. As I mentioned offline, actual validity in experience while working in the folks traditions of green wooding, as well as performing the task of actually harvesting and milling one's own lumber gives the greatest insight to this side of woodworking. As you can see there is a great deal of "urban legend" and misinformation out there too often repeated. There isn't a great deal in published works (in English) on the subject, and Folk style woodworking modalities are poorly (or completely) misunderstood in the contemporary wood shop, as are most aspects of traditional understanding of wood in general as it has served humans for the last several millenia.

I'm pleased you like the "folk aesthetic" that bark often lends to a turning project. Bark in general can very much accent a project whether its a turning project, Chair, Hutch, or simple bark inclusion within a large plank of a Harvest Table top. It can be challenging to mitigate sloughing in bark's cell structure where it interacts within the xylem, phloem, and cambium layers, yet in many species this can be achieved or reversed if one wishes for the "bark look" on a project.

It will be a challenge, and it would be a false claim to state that its not more of a challenge than taking it off. Many original pieces that we see with bark inclusions and/or retention within museum collections are accidents of the process and the species selected for the item in examination. Some species will hold there bark naturally because of the way the species grows. However, keeping it often is no more challenging than just gluing it back onto the project should it loosen.

In your project (Horn-beam...which can have nice tight bark!) I would just put a "tell-mark" on the bark so you can keep its orientation correct more easily and should it show indications of loosening, just glue back on.

Feel free to shoot me an email should you wish. Response time is slow as I'm on a timber frame project in Vermont and out of WiFi range accept for the weekends now.

Good luck with your project...
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post #12 of 13 Old 06-09-2019, 12:49 AM
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TwelveFoot,
Jay's your guy for hands on knowledge and true wood workmanship, he's probably already forgotten more than most could even dream of knowing. I enjoy his info and with my background of digging deeper in studying the facts and knowledge of old school/ ancient methods in wood and woodworking his word is true in wealth of info along WITH his hands on working of wood everyday creates that bond of one's gift/talent with nature.

Jay good to see you post the facts again!!!! !!!!
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post #13 of 13 Old 06-09-2019, 07:20 AM
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Blessings Tim...!

Mark's work caught my eye last time I was present on the forum (back to Vermont soon) and I could see the quality in his work, and talent. I also knew the "rabbit hole" he could fall into with some of his questions and the advise he would get (mostly) online and forums with such "live edge" turning wanting to keep bark on!!! I think that piece he is working...even with distortion and checking...if properly corrected/mitigated will look tremendous. If he takes his time he should be able to thin out this piece to become a stunning example of folk style turn work. Maybe some "gouge work" here in there to give it the "hand shaped" look in the end may also accent the piece nicely?

Good luck Mark and feel free to shoot me an email anytime or post here, and I should see it eventually...

j
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