Just starting out. Wood working question! - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 09-19-2011, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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Cool Just starting out. Wood working question!

A big tree(silver maple) came down in the backyard so I decided to try making a couple things on a lathe with the wood. The tree came down about 3 weeks ago and i started turning a cup last weekend. I had the outside shaped out and brought it upstairs on saturday, and today noticed that it was splitting. I know it is more humid in the basement where i had kept the wood originally. I was wondering why this happens if its because it was not fully dry yet or a change in temp or humidity. I want to try again but want to avoid the same thing from happening again. Any info or advice on the matter would be awesome. thanks
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post #2 of 8 Old 09-19-2011, 06:25 PM
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Wood moves. Moisture content changes, rapidly at times. Not uncommon for recently cut wood to crack. I don't turn a lot of green wood, there are others here that do more of that and will have better answers for you.

That bowl was perfect right up until that last cut...
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post #3 of 8 Old 09-19-2011, 06:42 PM
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like he said wood moves.alot of people turn things somewhat thicker untill it dries then turn it finished.you also need to make sure you have even thickness from top to bottom then place it in a brown paper bag and let it dry
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post #4 of 8 Old 09-19-2011, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by robert421960 View Post
like he said wood moves.alot of people turn things somewhat thicker untill it dries then turn it finished.you also need to make sure you have even thickness from top to bottom then place it in a brown paper bag and let it dry
When you put it in the bag weigh it first. Then pack it in the shavings. Close the bag, write the weight and date on the bag. Every few weeks to a month take it out weigh it, write the date and weight on the bag again. Keep doing this until it stops losing weight. Once it does it's finished drying and ready for final turning.

The shavings helps it not dry to fast. I use boxes because it was hard to find paper bags.
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post #5 of 8 Old 09-19-2011, 09:34 PM
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Don’t know if this will help but.. (and I assume the tree was living a few weeks ago).
What was the diameter? The rule of thumb is to leave the walls 10% of the diameter. You may not be able to do this due to the small diameter of a cup.
You stated you shaped the outside. You must also shape the inside leaving the walls 10%. When I have tried cups/goblets it has been with dry wood. Some people do turn them green/wet but be prepared for warping.

Did the piece still contain the pith? If so it is very difficult to keep it from cracking/splitting.

It probably happened due to a lot of factor, the largest being the wood was not dry (at least <12% or so). When green it was probably in the range of 25-30%.

Many people (myself included) bag the item in a paper bag. I have never used the shavings in with it but a lot of people do. You need to coat the end grain with a sealer, such as wax, before bagging it. You are trying to control the moisture loss. The bag allows a slow moisture loss while keeping any air flow away.

I would think a cup would dry in a month (1/4” thickness).

I have picked up green wood and had cracks appear by the time I got home (thirty minutes or so).

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin
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post #6 of 8 Old 09-19-2011, 10:37 PM
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I do and have done a lot of green turning. The advice given has been pretty good.
Green turning is the best way to get solid turning especially of any larger size without the glue up.
The 10% rule is the usual one with possible exception of pieces with a lot of areas that will move differently like crotches.
I dry them for 2-6 months in the garage where the final moisture will drop from 20- 12% ish. I then move them into the house for the same time to get them to 5-8% before doing the finish turning. The degree of oval shape and distortion is impressive and shows you why sudden drying with differences near the end grain. It dries faster causes checking. If dried slowly and evenly the wood distorts rather than splitting.
A ten inch diameter bowl can end up 1/2 inch or more more narrow that it's is long(length does not change).
A fringe benefit is the wood is easier to turn when green with less dust. You get a lot of practice making smooth curves. If you use large blocks,there are a few systems that let you turn a few bowls from the same blank. Oneway has a good system.
Something as small as a goblet that can be turned to 1/2 inch or so dries more quickly. Most have tried to speed up the process with a microwave but I found it not worth the trouble. Patience works.
I have used the wax emulsions and currently using Pentacryl. I do use the paper bag to help slow down and keep the drying uniform. The wood shavings are only used to hold the project overnight. Most wood needs the very surface to dry quickly to avoid discoloration by mold.(4-6)hours+-
I hope this is useful.
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post #7 of 8 Old 09-20-2011, 02:30 AM
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When using green wood, once you've started a piece you're pretty much committed to turning the outside and inside in a relatively short period of time. The drier the air the shorter your window is. If I have to stop in the middle of a piece I wrap it in plastic to stop drying all together until I can get back to it. Most of the time I turn in and out, sand, and finish (first coat) while still on the lathe then let it move how it wants to as it dries. If it's uniformly thin it will warp without cracking (in theory). You just have to plan for and be ok with warping. It's gunna happen unless you rough turn/return as described in earlier posts.
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post #8 of 8 Old 09-21-2011, 09:04 PM Thread Starter
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thanks everyone for the great advice. I just ordered a new lathe, its a JET JML 1014VSI 10-Inch-by-14-Inch Variable Speed Indexing Mini Lathe. It should be here on Friday...can't wait
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