Hello and help please!

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Blog entry by Deborah Bond posted 02-24-2008 10:32 PM 1123 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi everyone and thank you so much for the warm invite. I have some questions for you and maybe then I can really call myself a Lumberjock or Lumberjocket. I have long wanted to do something creative in wood work but at the tinder age of fifty six have yet to act on it. My husband is in the tree bussiness and has privy to all types of hardwood. But… he doesn’t have the artist feel that I have in my heart. So my first question is… should he cut out the part of the tree where the limb and trunk meet for me. I saw something about this on TV once and thought of all the great pices of wood that had been waisted.
Next, I read in an old pioneer book about cutting off the bumps on the sides of hardwood trees and making bowls with these. This book told and showed some narley wood that made some beautiful bowls. Then of course what about how and how long the wood should be dryed. As you can see I am a babe at this and hope I don’t ofend with my lack of know how.
While thinking about it taking a long time for the wood to dry I wondered if there wasn’t a way to speed it up without cracking the wood. I assume that could be one of the problems with wood. Anyway I thought, why couldn’t you put smaller pieces of wood on the top of your stove while your baking to speed this up? Just a question and I’m sure someone will correct me for this. But at least I’m thinking and not dead yet.
Thanks A Lot,

-- Deborah,Alabama,

10 comments so far

View rpmurphy509's profile


288 posts in 3850 days

#1 posted 02-24-2008 10:50 PM

The ‘crotches’ of wood can have some spectacular grain patterns in them.
For me, I would rough mill as much of the tree as humanly possible paying
close attention to the crotch areas and any burls.

Even the smaller limbs can be useful for turning, making rustic handles etc.

-- Still learning everything

View matter's profile


210 posts in 3765 days

#2 posted 02-24-2008 11:28 PM

Hi Deborah, Glad you could join us!

For the drying portion- rough the log into planks, then paint the ends with a fast drying sealer, like shellac or even melted paraffin wax. Then sticker stack them- this just means using small, about 1×1 strips of wood to separate the planks. You’ll probably want to pick up a moisture meter so that you will know when the stock becomes workable. The ideal moisture varies between species, but you can download a table on the web.

Good luck

-- The only easy wood project is a fire

View lew's profile


12056 posts in 3751 days

#3 posted 02-25-2008 12:25 AM

Hi Deborah, I have made some bowls, on a lathe, and found that working with “green”- wet- wood is much easier that working with dry wood. The wood cuts and shapes easier. Maybe the same is true if you are going to carve the wood. Working with the wet wood presents some problems in the drying and finishing stages, however. If you create a bowl with wet wood, leave the wood thicker than you want it to be when the bowl is finished. As the wood dries, it will warp, so if symmetry is important you will need some “meat” to work with to finalize the shape. As for drying, I wrap the partially finished bowl in newspaper, maybe 6 to 10 layers. Then set it aside for about 6 weeks or longer- depending on the size. If you make a bunch of these, when the wood is available, you will always have a couple set back to work on. Be sure to date them so you will know which ones to use first. Once they dry, you can bring them to their final size and finish them. Please post you work, I’d really like to see how they turn out.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View AWood's profile


51 posts in 3742 days

#4 posted 02-25-2008 02:52 AM

I knew a guy who was building ornate clocks out of fruit wood such as apple, pear, etc and he stacked his lumber in the attic space of his garage and in some cases the house. The ventilation was good and you know how hot it can get in those attics in the day and cooler at night.

-- AllWood

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 3881 days

#5 posted 02-25-2008 05:44 PM

Hi Deborah!
If you want to turn on the lathe you might want to take a look at this book on Amazon: The Lathe Book: A Complete Guide to the Machine and its Accessories.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3870 days

#6 posted 02-25-2008 06:29 PM

Deborah, a few things:

First of all welcome to lumberjocks. This is the perfect place to ask questions!

Second, those “bumps” on the side of trees are called burl, and yes, they make amazing figure. But cutting them off the sides of live trees will kill the tree. So you should only use burl from a tree that has been harvested completely.

-- Happy woodworking!

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4243 days

#7 posted 02-25-2008 07:32 PM

Welcome to Lumberjocks, to add to what Blake just told you, those burls are usually either cut into slabs and sanded off and made into clocks or something ornate to hang on the wall or if they are small enough they could be hollowed out with or without a lathe if you have the tools to make bowls. I have a little hand held mini chainsaw like device called a Lancelot that you can use to hollow out burls or even a block of wood. You can find them at mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3783 days

#8 posted 02-26-2008 06:24 AM

Newly cut would is usually about 25 – 30% moisture content. Until it gets down to around 14%, you run the risk of it checking and splitting. Air drying is one option: Keep the wood out of direct sunlight. You will need good airflow around it. Seal the open end grains with Anchorseal, parrafin, etc. (Latex paint does not work. It must stop the rapid moisture loss of the end grain in relation to the side grain. Latex “breathes” and so does not significantly reduce moisture loss). For planks of wood like Walnut etc, you are looking at 6 mo to 1 yr per inch thickness depending on your climate. For smaller pieces like bowl turning blanks or carving blanks, soak in denatured alcohol and wrap in a brown paper bag. Depending on the size it may take 1 to 6 weeks to get the moisture content down to 14% or less. After the mositure content is 14% or less, you can safetly cut or mill the wood without risk of splitting, but warpage may still be a problem.

If turningn green fresh cut wood, stop when it gets to about 1/4” over the finished dimension, soak in alcohol, and wrap in the brown paper to slow the drying. The alcohol will join with the water, and help it migrate out of the wood. The brown paper will regulate the speed at which this happens. After the moisture content is reduced, you can finish turning the wood without as much danger of splitting (with crotch lumber, there is always the possibility of stress creating cracks that you cannot avoid).

For turning small things like pens, etc, you can use a microwave, but it has to be a stop and go process to let the moisture work out. Check out the Internet for Alcohol drying wood, and Microwave wood drying..

As for the bumps, they are called “burl”. Some are trash and some are pieces of beauty. No one knows until they cut into them what lays inside. If it is too “punky (soft and crumbly”), it may be saved by soaking with cryanoacrylate (super glue) but many times is trash..

Hope this helps with some terms for which to use searching the internet for more specific guidance.


-- Go

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 3784 days

#9 posted 02-26-2008 06:45 AM

Well everything I was going to say was just said. Typical for this place! Anyway, welcome and have fun. Wood turning would be a good place for you with your husband’s access to green wood, you can start to turn the green stuff right away like everyone said and let it dry slowly. Eventually you will build up a stock of in process blanks where something is always ready for the finishing stages. If nothing else, you can always put the more exotic stuff on ebay. I have discovered that I get a great response from a bowl or pen when I can tell the recipient where the tree came from. My neighbors love it when I knock on the door and ask if I can take some of the “firewood” laid out at the curb for pickup. I always surprise them months later with a small momento of the tree they once had. Keep the questions coming and we will do what we can to help!

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

View DustyDave's profile


70 posts in 3944 days

#10 posted 03-09-2008 02:14 PM


Welcome to LumberJocks.

I didn’t notice it mentioned above, but there is a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture wood handbook. There is a TON on information on wood. See chapeter 2 on cuts and parts of a tree.

-- Dave _-^-_ Baltimore, MD

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