drying lumber and logs for wood turning

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Forum topic by stratiA posted 03-02-2011 08:53 AM 2403 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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101 posts in 3401 days

03-02-2011 08:53 AM

Hi all, I have just taken up woodturning. (I know, I’m in trouble now) I am intrigued by the possibility of using random logs, green firewood, winter blow downs etc as potential turning stock. At worst, I can use it as practice stuff. I don’t own a kiln or anything like that. I figured maybe I can stack up logs and air dry them in my moms shed. Of course I know here in MA that would take foreverrrrrrrrrr…... However I currently work in a small bread bakery. We use boxes/trays made from run of the mill pine and ply for rising dough. A while ago I needed to break up a whole bunch of these dough boxes. I noticed that these wood boxes are really dry. I know that the pine is kiln dried when we get it from the box stores, but this wood is now really really dry and brittle. That has me thinking. (more trouble) There is room near a large 6 pan rotating oven for me to stash some logs. The bread oven area is warm and dry. It is probably between 85 and 100 degrees for several hours a day. In the summer its definitely more than that. Besides the obvious problems with bugs, checking etc would this be a good Idea? How long would it take to dry several stickered 6 to 8 inch logs. Some would be split and others would be complete with bark. Probably under 2 ft in length. Are there any other problems that I would encounter? Any info is appreciated.

-- Strati Alepidis, Burlington, Ma, Member Red Sox nation

4 replies so far

View stratiA's profile


101 posts in 3401 days

#1 posted 03-02-2011 09:16 AM

Oh by the way what would happen if I placed a log in the oven for an hr to 2 to kill bugs and such. I don’t think it would catch on fire? It would be about 300 degrees. Again pros and cons

-- Strati Alepidis, Burlington, Ma, Member Red Sox nation

View Scsmith42's profile


125 posts in 2702 days

#2 posted 03-02-2011 06:25 PM

Most likely you would damage the log beyond use. Think of it this way – as lumber dries, it shrinks. It also dries from the outside to the inside. Thus, when you stick a log in an oven the outer portion of the log will start drying, shrinking, and then cracking because the core has not dried out. In essence, as the outer portion of the log shrinks, it has to crack.

-- Scott, North Carolina,

View HerbC's profile


1763 posts in 2884 days

#3 posted 03-02-2011 07:11 PM

Nix on the oven idea. Too high heat will cause major checking and other degrade. Most damage is actually caused by the wood drying too quickly!

Most turners I’ve talked to actuallly prefer to do initial turning of bowls using green blanks which have not yet dried. Turn the item to the rough dimensions and then package in kraft paper grocery bags to slow down the drying. Let dry for several weeks/months and then turn to finished dimensions once it has dried. Be prepared to loose some using this technique, some will split, crack and/or warp…

Good Luck!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3099 days

#4 posted 03-02-2011 07:23 PM

Turn them when they are still green. However, don’t turn them all the way to your final product. You should probably stop when your bowl is about an inch thick. Then, put the bowl into a paper bag with some wood shavings and wait about 6 months. As the wood dries it will move some. Then, put it back on the lathe and finish the job.

Another option – turn it all the way when still green and let it dry. You’ll get movement that will make thinks wavy. Some people like that.

Turning green wood is a lot of fun. It’s easier to turn than dry wood.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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