Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

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Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by grendel on Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:23 pm

Any ideas, all my Holly cracked and became useless apart from one small piece. Strange as the Sycamore virtually never does and they were both stored in the same place.

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by the barnacle on Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:10 pm

holly is the worst wood - as a wood turner I have big problems with getting holly stable - sycamore is not to prone to cracking - the best way is split the wood to remove the pith then seal both ends with pva and the last few inches. keep stored in a cool but vented area.

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by grendel on Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:50 pm

Thanks, I kinda need the wood un-split, guess I'll have to try another wood. Went for Holly as I need a pretty dense wood and there's plenty in the local woods near me. The one bit that survived work beautifully.

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Stupidity got us into this mess, why can't it get us out

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by skalla on Fri Oct 04, 2013 8:31 pm

Was this in walking stick/spear shaft sized bits?

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by grendel on Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:51 am

about an inch or more diameter.

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Stupidity got us into this mess, why can't it get us out

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by skalla on Sat Oct 05, 2013 2:43 pm

If you want them for a stick or shaft etc and cannot split the thing, you need to cut over long at each end, so then when it does crack from the ends then you still have plenty of stick left over.  Also dont cut side growth off closely - leave a couple of inches as these will possibly develop splits too.  Then keep the bark on and paint/pva exposed end grain.

Then leave it somewhere cool and dry for at least two years!

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by grendel on Sat Oct 05, 2013 11:26 pm

Only two years, I'll get back to you and let you know if it works...

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by skalla on Sun Oct 06, 2013 6:29 pm

Pretty underwhelming huh?  The best bit is that after you treat it so carefully and wait a coupla years, when you finally decide to work the thing - you realise it shrank maybe 30% and is now tool bluntingly hard Razz 

It's funny, but only because i've suffered too!

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by grendel on Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:19 pm

I guess Holly is not the best choice of wood then.

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by skalla on Sun Oct 06, 2013 10:56 pm

i've got a near perfect Holly spear-shaft/staff waiting to be finished off, i let that lie for over 3 years due to my disappointment at previous efforts.  It was a right pain to get the bark and waxy cambium off too (though it does look good left on) and i still need to sand it a lot to get some little knife dings etc out. 
I've also got a few thicker pieces that i got from a fairly large bush that i just came across in a forest i was working in, already felled and just left by godknowswho!  Obviously i took it, left it for three years and have some good stuff ready to go now, but it's often an exercise in delayed gratification is wood hunting Smile

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by the barnacle on Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:19 am

I have some Laburnum that I have been drying for several years it is a poisonous wood but the colour and finis you get is stunning, most will be for wood turning but I might split a log for a walking stick,

I also have big chunks of holly and some apple wood.

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by grendel on Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:54 am

the barnacle wrote:I have some Laburnum that I have been drying for several years it is a poisonous wood but the colour and finis you get is stunning, most will be for wood turning but I might split a log for a walking stick,

I also have big chunks of holly and some apple wood.
pretty tree, I'll have to look out for it.


is there a guide to wood drying time/thickness?

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by the barnacle on Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:53 pm

its said to be 1 inch on the diameter per yr to make the wood stable.

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by skalla on Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:30 pm

Laburnum is gorgeous indeed, i got given some from a dying tree and it had to be shared between quite a few folk...  i'd only just started carving and such and had no idea how it would tear itself apart.  I got a few spoons out of it though and the mix of yellow and deep brown is gorgeous when oiled, but the grain is wonderful too.  Shame i dont have any pics and they were all gifted away.

It's be really cool to see some woodturning pics Barnacle, it's something i'd like a proper go at one day.  One day i may try making a pole lathe, i've had a little go on a few and they're a great bit of woodland tech.

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by the barnacle on Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:04 am

I will get some pictures soon but my camera seems to of joined the other things my brother has borrowed and yet to return, I have a graduate bowl lathe and just turn once in a while if I get some interesting wood.

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by mr.hertzian cone on Sat Oct 19, 2013 1:23 pm

How about when you cut a pole you strip the bark off the middle and leave some around the ends for a few inches? The moisture could go evenly out through the middle section and the ends would be protected from drying out too qucikly and splitting...

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by skalla on Sat Oct 19, 2013 6:06 pm

That can work - i've done it successfully on a few different sticks, it's a good cheat if you ask me and can speed things up a lot.  I've heard of folk tightly tying inner tube strips around the end of sticks in similar fashion too.  I'd still cover the end grain in paint or glue while doing this too.

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by the barnacle on Sun Oct 20, 2013 8:53 am

interesting ideas - plus the bark will be eaier to remove when green - maybe even a little shaping if needed to the centre section.

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Re: Stopping Wood Cracking When Drying

Post by mr.hertzian cone on Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:57 pm

Sure, this is a safe area to shape when green, I've seen folk who pre-shape the bow green(if that's what you're making) make it a little long and then clamp it to a plywood forming mould for 2-3 months to get the (re)curve settled in and even.
I've used gaffer tape to cover the ends of a peice of Hazel and no splits so far, and it was cut in July and full of sap; I could'nt be arsed to open a tin of paint! Shocking.

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