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Manzanita Buttons

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Blog entry by swied posted 12-04-2010 10:06 PM 1672 reads 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m trying to make some buttons our of a piece of manzanita branch that I cut from the tree about a week ago. They are a Christmas present for my sister who is into knitting.

I’m a little worried about the green wood eventually drying out, and checking. Is this a well founded fear? If so, then what can I do to prevent it?

Here are some pictures of my progress so far. The sanding has been pretty slow going. I plan on making more buttons later this week.



-- Scott, San Diego



9 comments so far

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4163 posts in 1602 days


#1 posted 12-04-2010 10:08 PM

Leave them in salt overnight.
It normally dries small pieces fairly well without cracking.
Try one piece first though.

Jamie

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View rivergirl's profile

rivergirl

3198 posts in 1584 days


#2 posted 12-04-2010 10:11 PM

I also make wooden buttons, but I use dry branches. I seal the ends of the branch with paint and let the branches dry. Otherwise the buttons will crack in half. I never tried salt though- it’s a good idea to try.

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View Steve Esterby's profile

Steve Esterby

285 posts in 1505 days


#3 posted 12-05-2010 02:03 AM

I only use wood which is dead and dry while still standing.If it is gray,then it should be dead a sufficient time.Dead wood has already cracked,so there is no guess work.Plus the wood inside will be much more beautiful.Usually if you look close at manzanita,you will find plenty of dead wood.Another surprise with dead wood is how dry it is on the inside even in damp climates.I collect driftwood from the oregon coast which looks soaked,but less then a quarter inch in it is bone dry and ready to work.

-- steve...e-mail-themantelshop@hotmail.com........remember,the best teacher is repetition.

View rivergirl's profile

rivergirl

3198 posts in 1584 days


#4 posted 12-06-2010 08:04 AM

I don’t know Carver, but here in PA- even standing dead wood can be quite wet. And I have discovered the hard way that even the standing dead stuff needs end sealed or else catastrophic checking/cracking occurs very often. But that’s the funny thing about wood and moisture- a log that behaves in Oregon will misbehave in Pittsburgh. :) I can’t make buttons that don’t crack- unless I seal up the log or stick and let it dry in the garage for at least several months. I wish it weren’t so, it would save lots of time. :)

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View Steve Esterby's profile

Steve Esterby

285 posts in 1505 days


#5 posted 12-10-2010 06:37 PM

Rivergirl,I,m sorry I didn’t respond earlier.I just saw your response….I totally agree that dead wood can still have too much moisture. I’m very,very picky when looking for dead wood. I never use a piece that is touching the ground. I live in a huge forest so it’s not uncommon to find large quantities of wood dead I only use the wood at the top of the piles so it doesn’t draw moisture from the ground and it has good air circulation.Also the rain runs off this wood at the top of the pile. another trick I use making buttons is to start with a bigger piece and break it by hand into smaller pieces, and make the button out of these pieces.I really don’t have any problems with the buttons, but I broke a fair amount before I figured out what would work for me. I make buttons for my wifes upholstery for our furniture.They get sat on daily , and they seem to hold up great. This was definitely one of my biggest concerns when designing furniture. I’m always looking for the weak link in the design process and the button definitley has that potential,but they seem to be holding up…..This lumberjocks is so cool! being able to discuss buttons with a fellow woodworker in PA….... Who would have thunk

-- steve...e-mail-themantelshop@hotmail.com........remember,the best teacher is repetition.

View rivergirl's profile

rivergirl

3198 posts in 1584 days


#6 posted 12-10-2010 07:50 PM

Carver- cool idea to use the buttons for rustic upholstery. I make the buttons for fun and they just sit there in cans. LOL I just added that one to my memory banks. :) THANKS FOR THE TIP.

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View swied's profile

swied

74 posts in 2507 days


#7 posted 12-10-2010 08:13 PM

Thanks for the great tips everyone. FYI.. all my buttons developed huge cracks after a couple of days. Back to the drawing board. I’ll try making a few more using the salt method. If that doesn’t work then I guess I’ll have to forage for some more wood, and use carvers method for picking out the best pieces.

-- Scott, San Diego

View rivergirl's profile

rivergirl

3198 posts in 1584 days


#8 posted 12-10-2010 08:21 PM

I thought they would all crack. Just get a branch- seal the ends with some old paint- just dip both ends of the branch into the paint let the paint dry then put the branch inside for a couple of months. The branch will dry out without cracking. Your buttons can be cut when the moisture is at 12 percent or less. The buttons cut from branches dried in this manner will not crack. It is worth the effort to use dry wood. Otherwise you will have cracked buttons continuously. :) Guess how I know this???? hehe

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View rockb's profile

rockb

18 posts in 2329 days


#9 posted 12-30-2011 01:41 AM

I know this is an old post but for you guys in the manzanita button making biz, you might look into getting a hold of some manzanita burl….cut it into slabs as thick as your button will be, then roughly cut out pieces about as wide as you want your button, squares would work, round it with a sanding disc…drill some holes …...call it a button….take a nap…. Repeat….. At least that’s the way I’d do it. ; ) I’ve cut lots of green branches for parrot toys….they all crack…..have never heard of the salt solution process…will give that one a try…..interesting. I might be able to help in the manzanita slab area, got a few of ‘em here: http://www.rockbswesternwoods.com/

-- I know the Creator of wood......Yeah, I'm a name dropper. : )

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