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Drying Wisteria

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Blog entry by Ken Caputa posted 721 days ago 1353 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hello !
I’ll be cutting down my 25 year old Wisteria real soon and I’m not really sure what the best way to dry it before using it. In the garage, outside under my covered shed or in the basement in the heating room?

There is a lot of wood for several walking sticks and the main trunk is approximately 4ft long and 5” to 6a” thick.

Should I take the bark off before drying or after ?

I hope someone ca help me.

Thank you,

Ken

-- Ken in GK Germany



9 comments so far

View Alexandre's profile

Alexandre

1417 posts in 774 days


#1 posted 721 days ago

Ken, When you chop it down, Get a courier service and send some to me.
Ken, saw it into Planks, stack it and let it dry in the basement in the heating room.
When Sawing into planks, Remember to leave some excess as it will shrink over time.

-- My terrible signature...

View Ken Caputa's profile

Ken Caputa

8 posts in 1763 days


#2 posted 721 days ago

Hi Alexandre,
Wow that was a fast response!
Thank you very much!
Is it best to use the wisteria as plank wood ?
I was hoping that using the trunk part for something like small boxes from crosscuts?
Would that work with this type of wood?

-- Ken in GK Germany

View Alexandre's profile

Alexandre

1417 posts in 774 days


#3 posted 721 days ago

Wisteria seems like a nice wood… With a Brilliant Grain.
Why not make a table?
Yes, you can make small boxes.

-- My terrible signature...

View mpounders's profile

mpounders

706 posts in 1479 days


#4 posted 721 days ago

Paint the cut ends and dry in the garage. It is a very soft wood and the bark is pretty tight; it won’t just flake off and the wood won’t shrink much either. I have cut bandsaw boxes and small pieces for carving out of it. I don’t think it is stought enough for furniture or canes, mainly because it is quite soft and light. Beautiful grain and colors though!

-- Mike P., Arkansas, http://mikepounders.weebly.com

View Ken Caputa's profile

Ken Caputa

8 posts in 1763 days


#5 posted 720 days ago

Thanks Mike,
How do I know when it’s dry enough to start working with it ?

-- Ken in GK Germany

View Ken Caputa's profile

Ken Caputa

8 posts in 1763 days


#6 posted 680 days ago

Hi guys & gals,
I’ve been reading what I can find about drying wood and I’ve read something about wrapping in plastic and drying that way. Also, covering with petroleum to keep from cracking or splitting.
Does anyone have any experience or comments on these methods.
It seems the wisteria has very large roots also. Is this what they call burl ?
Is this also useful for something ?
Sorry for such amatuerish questions but I’m pretty excited about not having the wood become useless.
Thanks a bunch!

-- Ken in GK Germany

View Transition's profile

Transition

339 posts in 1127 days


#7 posted 678 days ago

Got your email. Tough question. I’m guessing you saw my Lumberjocks project: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/58975?

The 5” diameter vine that I cut yielded two 5’ pieces. One section I chunked into 8” lengths and the other I left whole. I didn’t have a chance to treat the ends and all of them checked. But none seemed to check too deeply. If I can lay my hands on the pieces, I’ll take some pics.

I’m far from being an expert, but I’m thinking that given the heavy moisture content of the vines, and their flexibility, it might be best to cut your vine in a single large section and let it dry without sealing the ends. As it dries I would think that the ends would check, but the rest would flex.

If you have small pieces then I would seal the ends. Petroleum should work to seal the ends, but it might penetrate into the wood. An alternative would be cheap latex paint.

There may be some non-intuitive trick to drying wood in plastic, but I would never dry wood in plastic as it would keep in the moisture. Paper bags are often used. I like the large paper leaf bags.

If it’s a small enough piece you could speed the drying in a microwave. But this is a tricky and takes patience. If you want to know more I would be happy to share my experience. Most of all, if you’re married, don’t use the good microwave in the kitchen. My wife was not happy…

One way to tell if it is dry is to weigh it every so often. As it dries, it will loose weight. When it stops losing weight it should be relatively dry.

A Burl is one of those round funky looking growths on a tree. It is the result of physical or biological stress.

The roots may have an interesting grain pattern. If they are large enough to work, I would definitely give it a try. Dirt is very hard on tools, so make sure you clean the roots well.

Best of luck! And post pics of your experience with the Wisteria!

-- Andrew, Orange County, CA - www.TransitionTurning.com

View Ken Caputa's profile

Ken Caputa

8 posts in 1763 days


#8 posted 676 days ago

Hi Andrew,
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer.
If I was to make small boxes from the wood is it best to use the wood in the direction where the center of the tree is the center of the box. If you know what I mean? Like take a cut of the trunk where you’re looking at the rings being the top of the box. Or, should the top of the box be the side of the trunk ?
One more small question, Is there an easy way to remove bark? The two handed tool that you pull towards you to shave the bark off seems to be a very long procedure. I was hoping there might be some trick to peeling the bark.

BTW I’m originally from SE PA also. The Bristol area.

-- Ken in GK Germany

View Transition's profile

Transition

339 posts in 1127 days


#9 posted 670 days ago

I do turning mostly. But there are some really great box makers on this site, so I recommend that you seek out their advice. My two cents:

1) “is it best to use the wood…” I’m not sure what you mean by “best”, but when I’m working, two of the primary considerations for achieving a beautiful and functional piece are the grain that I want to expose, the movement of the wood, and how the two are related. Are you going to make bandsaw boxes or plank the wood and join it?
1a) Asthetics – The Wisteria that I used had very dark heartwood, and yellow sapwood with white bands. Very cool stuff! So you’ll want to ask yourself what features of the wood you want to show off. Cut a few small test pieces at different angles, sand them up, and see what you like. As these test pieces dry you will have an opportunity to see how the wood reacts. You may not be able to use the wood in the way you want or may have to employ “tricks”.
1b) Movement – I have spent hours reading about this. Generally speaking, freshly cut wood moves a lot as it dries. The amount of movement depends on the species and the direction of cut. Even after you dry the wood, the water content will change with the environment (I’m sure you’ve experienced doors sticking in the humidity of PA summers, but opening with no effort in the winter). But I’m thinking you’ll want to start with dry wood. I find that Rushing = Sawdust, Firewood, and Disappointment. Good news is it will be an exercise in patience and you’ll have lots of time to do some research.
Here’s a decent link on wood movement: http://workshopcompanion.com/KnowHow/Design/Nature_of_Wood/2_Wood_Movement/2_Wood_Movement.htm
2) I typically leave the bark on. My experience is that bark helps to slow the drying process, which can be a good thing because faster drying often means more stress, and it seems that the bark acts like a clamp to help prevent splitting. And as wood dries, sometimes the bark falls off, or in the case of thin bark it may easily peel off. Even if it doesn’t, as you process the wood you can simply cut away the bark using a tablesaw or bandsaw.

-- Andrew, Orange County, CA - www.TransitionTurning.com

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