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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am new to turning. I live in the central valley of California, where there is an abundence of walnut, almond, apricot, peach and the like. How can I succesfully dry these woods to turn a bowl? Everything I make cracks/splits or explodes. I need your help.
 

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drying

i don't know how large you want to turn, but my father in law in lake county cal. used to make walnut trivets out of rounds that he dried in the microwave. never thought it would work but it is about time someone came up with a decent use for a microwave. (they destroy food and are illegal for cooking in eastern europe)

they apparently heat from the inside out, and i don't know if you would have to heat it up all at one time or do it stage by stage with cooling or whatever. it seems he didn't do it at one setting, and you are going to want something thicker than he played with. may not work on your dimensions.

good luck. can always try the keep the bark on and paint the ends. in the east the humidity usually dries a log out about two inches per year - that is air drying. (did living history, 1700's wood working for a spell)
 

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Butch marley If you cut the tree down , try to treat the ends immediately with either latex paint, or a treatment you can buy at Woodcraft, I forget the name. It is around $20 a gallon. I Use sanding sealer ,latex paint or White shellac. If you use shellac, don't let the wood stay outside any longer. Water messes shellac up. If your turning and don't finish the turning make sure you coat the ends again. Do this everytime you turn untill finished. When you start turning again you just turn the sealer off. Some woods will stop cracking immediately by doing this but others like sycamore want to keep cracking. After a short time you will know which woods need to keep getting more sealer. Piece of cake. Don't think you have to have a perfect defect free bowl every time. Doesn't happen a lot. I planted an apple tree back in 1967 and cut it way back a couple weeks ago and never saw any cracking after a week. Turned several ne bowls and put 2 coats of sanding sealer on it. Still never saw any cracking. Now I will put about 5 coats of polyurethane on. You don't need to do this but I do it all the time. Seldom do I get any cracking or cupping etc. If you want to see some of my turnings look under my gallery Mitch If you might want to do something like this you can e-mail me at [email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have not been turning very long and any help is greatly appreciated. I will give the microwave a try on a piece of Almond this week-end. The wood looks like an expencive exotic, but it is just an old tree from an old orchard. I turned some green, and it covered me and the wall with water. Then when I sat it asside for the night, it split right down the middle. I will be going to the Woodcraft store in Dublin very soon and pick up some of the sealer. Do I understand correctly that I can use left over LATEX paint from work around the house? That would save more money for a better lathe. Thanks again
 

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Also turning green with a 1"ish wall thickness, seal it or restrict the drying till its dry will help. Some people use the microwave some put it in a plastic bag, reversing the bag each day in the beginning then when the sweating ceases a little longer with the bag open a little, then remove it to finish drying. That can take 2mo +/-

The reason the fresh turned piece cracked is it dried at a rate that was way to fast for wood.
It takes about 4-6wks to (under proper conditions) release moisture from 1" thick wood without creating drying degrade . Thinner isnt quicker,, it has less ability to not crack.

Microwave method works good.
Short low pwr initially, let it cool , continue. take your time (a little bit a day for a few days helps, store it in a bag while it waits,, this lets moisture naturally migrate ).
wild grain or knots are a little harder to dry ,, shame cause thats the best figure.
The drawback to mw method is wood is very pliable when its either wet or hot (see steam bending), so heating wet wood allows the stress areas to give and crack. thats why you want to just make it a little warm and go slow.

Also rough out 1" walls then seal with Anchor seal or any wax based product. Latex paint is porous so it would have to be very thick,, oil based may stain deep, the Anchor seal stays on the surface good and doesn't stain the wood.

make 2 give 1 to a kid.
jim
 

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Butch Marley Save some money and use any latex paint when you dress the ends of the wood after you cut it down.Before you paint the ends make sure to leave a half inch or so when your going to turn you can cut the ends off so the paint doesn't show on the sides. If when turning wet wood it splashed on your walls and you think that was a pain, wait till you use the microwave and smell what the house will smell like. When finishing turning for the night always reseal the ends and they won't crack. Always shellac ends with shellac, sanding sealer even varnish etc. I can't go for cutting till one inch of finished then seal and wait 3 months etc. I want to turn and finish my turning in one or two days. If longer than that I lose interest in that turning. If you do it my way you will need to put about 4 coats of sealer and varnish. I have over a hundred bowls etc turned here in my basement and none of them are crackedwhere they are rendered useless.The main thing to remember Butch is don't be too rigid and insist on using one method. Be willing to try more ways than one till you find something that works for you. I did and it works fine for me. Mitch BTW, Latex paint doesnt stain wood deep and neither does oil base, people have been painting end grains for years, now someone found a way to make money and come up with anchorseal, and it is good, but I got other things to do with my money. Like I said you need to square up the ends when turning so what if the paint soaked in a littleyour going to cut it off?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Mitch, Solidwoods, and Conscious,
Your suggestions worked like a charm. I have wood to turn and wood waiting to turn. My next question, is how big/small should I make these blocks for medium to small bowls, and do I leave the bark on for storage.
Thanks again.

Butch
 

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Butch
The key to roughing out the blank from a Tree/log is to orient the blank so you maximize the figure or maximize what the rough material has to offer.
You are not making a size, you are roughing out what finished piece is there in the rough.
The raw material will show you what the finished sized could be.

Man did that make sense?:huh:

Don't split knots, or put cracks in the blank etc.
Cut plenty of extras.
We will leave no blanks behind! (the Turning Marines)

Most bowls can be made smaller so you do the math on size:blink:

Bark.
Some woods will keep there bark when dry and some won't.
For short term storage till turning, it doesn't matter. BUT, as bark dries it can come loose, so watch it for coming off during turning.

However you dry pieces, just keep an eye on them in the beginning, the first 1/2 or 2/3 stages of drying woods are the most cantankerous. Once wood is dryer than its fiber saturation point (about 30%) the drying is way more forgiving.

Make extra.
Trade.
Be willing to throw out lessons.
jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Jim,

Thank you for the help. I was given an very large Oak stump. I will be wrestling with that for a while. I had to borrow a larger chain saw, just to cut up into sizes I could lift. It sounds like I may have butchered some of the better pieces. But I now know better for the next time.
Thanks again.

Butch
 
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