finishing wet/green wood

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by shelly_b posted 01-27-2013 03:10 PM 10455 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2141 days

01-27-2013 03:10 PM

So I finally started my first log project. I figured I should start small so I am making my daughter a step stool. I cut the tree down that I am using about a week or 2 ago so it is still wet. (I have been told it is cotton wood) Are there any restrictions to putting a finish on green wood? It has been peeled for a few days so the outside feels pretty dry but if you cut into it at all you can feel the moisture. I plan on just doing some type of clear coat but I wasn’t sure if I should go with a water based sealant…or if oil based would go on ok. Hopefully it will be done in the next day or 2:) Thanks!!

9 replies so far

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2511 days

#1 posted 01-27-2013 03:35 PM

Unfortunately I don’t think it will survive.

Green wood will shrink as it dries and if it can’t shrink evenly will split, warp, bend and crack.

How large are the individual pieces of your stool?

I have been known to take small individual green pieces of wood and put them in the oven for a day or two @ 170° or as low as it will go.

I have also dried green wood in the microwave although that is more labor intense.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2141 days

#2 posted 01-27-2013 03:46 PM

the longest is 18 in…i had heard somewhere that the finish would slow the drying process making it less likely to crack…i was hoping that was the case but your explanation sounds more logical. i would like to do larger projects too so i’m not sure what i will do about drying those….maybe i should find someone to allow me to use their kiln for a price. i had a big oak log that was sitting in the garage drying and it literaly split in half so i’m starting to worry about my log furniture capabilities lol.

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2296 days

#3 posted 01-27-2013 04:02 PM

...oohhh nnooo Shelly, excess moisture is not our friend, unless you’re turning green wood on a lathe.

...warping, checking, cracking, bowing, cupping, twisting, shrinking, splitting just to name a few of the FAILS of milling lumber when the moisture content is too high, not to mention if you were able to coat it with a finish, other than some type of oil, the finish will flake off as the wood shrinks as the moisture evaporates.

Would be best if you research ‘Kiln or Air Drying Lumber’.

Best Regards.
Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len

[Edit] While prepping this response Dallas had already brought you up to speed on the pitfalls of milling green lumber.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2511 days

#4 posted 01-27-2013 04:22 PM

One thing to mention….
When I dry in the Nuke or the oven I usually put in twice as much as I need and hope I’ll get enough usable wood back to make the project.

Always cut oversized so you can trim to correct dimensions later, it not only gets smaller around, it will get shorter as it dries.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 2134 days

#5 posted 01-27-2013 04:33 PM

The couple of times I have used naturally air dried logs I usually end cutting off several inches off of each end. These were whole logs that were allowed to season with the intent of becoming firewood and I rescued them from the file.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2591 days

#6 posted 01-27-2013 05:42 PM

Shelly, if you want to build with green wood, do an internet search for phrases like “building furniture with green wood”. There are folks that have special techniques for it. There is a lot of splitting instead of cutting and use of joinery like draw tenons so they can be tightened as the wood dries.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2141 days

#7 posted 01-27-2013 07:37 PM

ok, thanks! i was worried about cracking, shrinking, but not so much warping, bowing ect since they are still in log form. i guess i will just glue it up, maybe put some oil finish on it and see how it goes!

View NormG's profile


6137 posts in 3027 days

#8 posted 01-28-2013 03:43 AM

Use your oven to dry the wood, about 4 hours at 210 degrees. Check and then another 4 hours if still green.. Use your drying racks, put parchment over them and a cookie sheet under them

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18286 posts in 3699 days

#9 posted 01-28-2013 03:55 AM

Check how they did it with rived wood. Roy Underhill has shown some green ww on Wood wright’s shop. I do not remember the details.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics