Curing maple for half log benches

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Forum topic by shawnve posted 09-21-2015 01:37 AM 599 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 400 days

09-21-2015 01:37 AM

Topic tags/keywords: half log bench curing maple finishing rustic

First off, hello I am new here and to woodworking…previous experience primarily with construction grade lumber. Have decent collection of power tools (and hand tools (several saws, hand plane, draw knife, chisels, etc.)

Moved to a new house (for me) last March with an acre and this weekend I finished up a project to convert a large pond into a smaller one and a fire pit…now I need a couple of nice rustic log benches. I have a decent size downed maple tree (about 12in diameter) which probably fell a year (or two) ago. My cheap moisture meter says 23% on end I cut yesterday and 30% on other end that was exposed to elements…also live in Seattle area so this time of year equilibrium moisture content would be 15-16% this time of year…

Have the basic process to build the benches but not entirely sure what I need to do to cure/finish once constructed (or if I need to wait for additional drying before I even start this project)?

Also have question of bark on or off…guessing will get a bit more life of out of the bench if I strip the bark though do like the look of keeping the bark on…any idea of the options/trade offs here?

Thanks…and sorry for the newb questions :)

7 replies so far

View WDHLT15's profile


1562 posts in 1897 days

#1 posted 09-21-2015 11:42 AM

It is going to take a long time to dry. For example, a 2” board takes two and a half more time to dry as a 1” board. A half round log that is say 6” thick will take a very long time to dry. I would go ahead and make the bench and use it, and just let the wood take its time to dry. I would finish it with tung oil and let the chips fall where they may.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View chrisstef's profile


15466 posts in 2427 days

#2 posted 09-21-2015 12:01 PM

ditto ^

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View boisdearc's profile


44 posts in 756 days

#3 posted 09-21-2015 01:29 PM

If you use dry spindles for your legs the green wood on the bench holes would shrink around the spindles so tight they can’t be pulled out….

View Yonak's profile


979 posts in 942 days

#4 posted 09-21-2015 02:35 PM

In times past people would make rustic furniture out of green lumber. It would shrink, twist and crack but, for outdoor, unfinished pieces that don’t have precise joinery, it’s reasonable to use, in my opinion. Outdoor furniture is only temporary to one degree or another anyway.

View gfadvm's profile


14929 posts in 2111 days

#5 posted 09-22-2015 12:36 AM

The guys above addressed the drying issue so I’ll chime in on the bark: it will invariably loosen/come off at some point so I would remove it now. Most bugs like to live under the bark as well. The bark on is a cool look but I have never found a way to make it stay on (especially outdoors).

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View RogerM's profile


747 posts in 1820 days

#6 posted 09-22-2015 12:36 AM

Considering the project you are making, moisture is not relevant. Split the log, plane the top reasonably flat, put some legs in it and use it.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View shawnve's profile


2 posts in 400 days

#7 posted 09-22-2015 02:00 AM

Figured I was over thinking this one, commonly do :) The bark (at least for the bench) turned out to be a non-issue once I split it was obvious bark wasn’t going to stay on.

Thanks for all the advice, good news is could be using with campfires this fall/winter…

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