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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone, first time posting here, thanks in advance for any help.
I'm opening a bar/cafe on the Pacific Coast in Panama and have been using a lot of local hardwood in the construction, mostly done by locals and myself. I don't have a lot of experience working with hard wood but it has been fun to learn.
But I've come across a problem. I had a friend visiting for four months to help build some stuff, and before he left we put together the bartop using a local wood called Habillo or Espave, a beautiful reddish grained wood. The bartop is three pieces of wood put together in a L shape. I bought the wood from a local sawmill, who told me the tree had been pulled from a river, which probably meant it was knocked over during a flood. To me this means the wood was not wet (or green in other terms), but did have a lot of water in it.
After the bar pieces were cut and put together with screws and wood glue, I sanded down the top and applied marine wood varnish. It looked great, but within a month or two I could see stains emerging from the wood which I'm sure was water trying to escape, especially being during the humid months in Panama. I sanded off all varnish hoping the wood would dry out before I open the bar this November.
I've now noticed the wood is beginning to show a slight warp (which I've heard is a problem with Espave).
Question is: is there anything I can do to speed the drying process (heat lamps or something?) and how do I know when the wood is ready to be finished again (which I've now decided to epoxy). Any advice?
 

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It sounds like you need to rig a dry kiln and season the wood. It could be as simple as a tin shed with a de-humidifier in it. Then you would need a moisture content meter to tell when it's ready.
 

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No. You don't dry wood in a kiln in the tropics///unless it goes in air conditioning. Mostly non-existent down this way.
Take it apart. Strip it. Stack it on some reglas and flip it over every weekend for 3 months.put some weight on it. Plane(or belt sand) and start again.
You can cheat a little. Make sure you have really good air flow. If you're on the coast see if a local has a buddy "up the hill" where it's a bit cooler, windier and less humid. Nov is probably do-able.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Tilaran-- Thanks for responding, I'm sure you have similar experiences dealing with Costa Rican wood.
The only reason I've been hesitant to take the bar out is the amount of glue and screws securing it down- it will be a mission and I'm a little afraid it might render the wood unusable. Do you have any methods that might work while leaving the wood where it is (fans, heat, etc?). I can put up some pictures if needed. Thanks again.
 

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I think your fear about the screw holes is well founded. If you have rows of open holes in the wood, uneven drying is likely and that could cause more warping.

Wish I had a suggestion but don't. Good luck.
 
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