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Blog entry by Eric posted 03-07-2010 04:10 PM 1110 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I did some woodturning a few months ago, I turned a chisel handle from a sweet gum tree that still had the bark on it and everything. I thought, “Hmm, I wonder what kind of wood might be available to me where I live in Malaysia.” I don’t have a lathe, but still – that shouldn’t stop one from trying to make stuff out of long cylindrical pieces of tree. Right? I’m not really into making rustic furniture – I just want to take “rustic wood” and make finished pieces from it.

So I was at a Muslim ceremony the other week (commemorating the 100th day since the death of someone in their community) and saw this hugemongous fallen tree next to the cemetery. When I asked about it, the guy said it was teak, and that they had cut the tree down because they were worried it was going to fall down into the cemetery. It looked like the tree was about 5’ or so at its thickest and 3’ or so at its narrowest. I asked a few questions about it while trying not to act too excited, visions of a solid slab teak workbench top dancing around in my head. And you know what? The guy didn’t seem to care too much about it. At some point I just might ask him if I can cart off the wood, but here in Malaysia you can’t just do that right away, you have to take your time and build the relationship a bit first. More on that as it develops. Here are a couple pics of the wood.

And closer to home (in our neighborhood, actually), they felled several trees and for the past month or so, they’ve just been lying there doing nothing but acclimating to being dead. So I decided that before rainy season kicks in again, I’d better go over there and see what I can get. I don’t know what kind of tree it is, but if it’s like most trees here it’s a hardwood. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

I can see myself using this wood to make accessories for my bench: leg vise handle, bench dogs, planing stop. Stuff like that. Here’s a cross section of one piece:

Now I have a few questions for you who know your wood and know things about acclimating, moisture content, etc., because I don’t know squat:

1. That teak has been sitting out for several months at least. Is there a chance that the wood is not good any longer, or does it just mean it’d have to sit covered for a bit longer to get that extra moisture out?
2. What’s the best way to store wood that you’ve just cut down? Leave the bark on? Cut it to planks?
3. How long should it sit before I use it? (Note, I don’t really have wood movement issues here since it’s pretty much the same humidity level year-round.)
4. What caused the cracks in the middle of the tree? Does that mean I probably won’t be able to use the very center?

Thanks for any and all advice!

-- Eric at

3 comments so far

View PG_Zac's profile


368 posts in 3351 days

#1 posted 03-07-2010 07:58 PM

Hey Eric,

Check out my blog series “Rescued Wood” for my experiences.

The Teak will probably still be very good, but will need many years to dry out if you leave it as a log. It’s best to cut it into slabs or planks for drying as there will be less chance of cracking.

The cracks in the center are from the wood shrinking as it dries, and you’ll have that problem with almost all types of wood. The centre is always very prone to cracks if the log is still in one piece. If you slab it before it cracks, there will be much less or even zero cracking, and the middle is often very attractive and always usable if you prevent the cracks.

Generally (depending on many conditions) you need to leave the wood to air dry (protected from rain) for roughly 6 months per inch of thickness.

I hope this helps.

Good luck with the wonderful wood you will find inside those logs.

-- I may be schizophrenic, but at least I have each other.

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3746 days

#2 posted 03-08-2010 03:21 AM

Thanks Zac, I’m going over to read your series now!

-- Eric at

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 3952 days

#3 posted 03-17-2010 04:06 PM

HI Eric, you know, if that is teak, I’m pretty sure you’ve got enough time to marry the guy for a few years before it starts to decay in the least. Not that I recommend it. Just saying. Teak will not decay very fast.

-- Jim

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