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Now What?... Turning Green Wood

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Forum topic by HorizontalMike posted 04-10-2013 05:49 PM 1205 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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HorizontalMike

6948 posts in 1604 days


04-10-2013 05:49 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bandsaw boxes green wood turning band saw

OK, I’m trying to salvage what I can from the death of a young Black Cherry on my property. It made it to about 3 1/2” to 4” diameter before the ongoing drought in Texas caught up to it. That said, I decided to turn a green piece of it to see how ”turning green wood” worked. I now have a piece of ~3” diameter x ~10” length. This was turned right on the pith/axis of the small tree. I have maybe ~15ft of usable trunk, for things like hand plane knobs, and I want to eventually make some small bandsaw ‘stump’ boxes and the like, with this stuff as well.

Now what? How long do I age this stuff before hacking on it with the BS? Is it better to just leave the bark on and age the ~3ft pieces that way? I ask this because I have seen and read where it is better to turn wood while it is still green. At the time I believe that was in reference to turning bowl blanks.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."


14 replies so far

View REO's profile

REO

628 posts in 764 days


#1 posted 04-10-2013 06:19 PM

the problem arises when the shrinkage occurs around the larger diameter faster than the smaller diameter interior. the growth rings are wider in the outer rings and the soft summer growth gives off water faster than the more dens winter growth. this creates a differential in the shrinkage where the outer rings have to stretch around the inner section which cant get the moisture out as fast. It is better if you can to half it across the center or pith if you can. In your case wanting to do band saw boxes this is kind of hard. covering the end grain and leaving the bark on forces the water to take the slowest way possible out of the wood across the walls of the fiber tubes and not with the grain as the sap flows in the tree normally. this causes a more stable consistent drying so that the whole thing can dry out at the same rate. if you are doing hollow forms. I would cover the ends and wrap in the wet shavings in and old cloth and stand them on end to dry somewhere til you turn them. turn your piece in two sessions one to rough and the next to finish when the piece is sufficiently dry. if you leave a square end it will still have a tendency to crack but if you can curve the closed end it can move laterally and relieve the stress because there is not a direct constriction. specifically for the bandsaw stumps: if you cut them wet and make the parts they will dry much faster because of the cross section thickness. the end blanks will still want to check but you can use several methods that the bowl turners use to reduce the opportunity for checking and then assemble and finish when they are done drying.

Good luck!

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Wildwood

1101 posts in 824 days


#2 posted 04-10-2013 07:38 PM

Mike you want to seal the ends with commercial product like Anchor Seal or Green Wood sealer. I use caning wax on billets that size because ends fit into my pot and latex for wider stuff. You can find caning wax at most grocery stores for couple of bucks. I usually leave the bark on to slow drying process but have done the same as you have.

Kept out of the weather & direct sunlight with normal air circulation could be ready in three or four months. No, billet may not be down to plus/minus 1 or 2 percent of in use EMC, but should be close.

Yes, sap (white) wood will dry faster than Heart wood (dark) wood. Wood dries from outside in, so watch for splitting, if find some take to bandsaw and salvage what you can. Have had good luck with several species of cherry, no so much with other fruitwoods.

Wish had posted end view so could see what you are calling pith. Pith (juvenile wood) along the base more trouble wider the tree than center wood found in limbs.

-- Bill

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6948 posts in 1604 days


#3 posted 04-10-2013 10:12 PM

I went ahead and turned it down to a cup with some rings, after cutting a slab for the bottom off before BS-ing the center out of this piece. Frankly, I needed to try out my 1/4” TW blade on the BS. To be honest, I have been soley using my my 14” BS has been for resawing up until now. Had my challenges and threw the blade 3 times before getting things right, but what the hey isn’t this is what WW-ing is about… ;-)

I am finding out that green wood does not like to glue together very well, if at all (I am still waiting after a frantic attempt to clamp a round object with 90-degree clamps). What a fiasco… We’ll see.

Anyway, I did not want this wood to go to waste, so I figure that using it and making numerous rookie mistakes is a “GOOD” use for the wood, lacking anything better… ;-) That said, yeah I should just go ahead and seal the ends and revisit this next year.

On another note: I found those post dust beetles, or whatever they are called, in a log of Juniper that I had standing outside of the shop for the past couple of years. Got me wondering about all the small Red Oak and Cherry I just cut and salvaged parts there of. This were small quantities, but probably should reconsider…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View TerryDowning's profile

TerryDowning

1009 posts in 807 days


#4 posted 04-10-2013 10:25 PM

Working with green wood is an exercise in patience and frustration at times.

Earlier this year I harvested a Plum tree that died. I won’t be able to do anything with that wood for a year. It just sits stickered on a shelf in my shop seasoning. Unfortunately my band saw broke during resaw operation and I was not able to process a few pieces of trunk. They are now cracking. Maybe I’ll split those with a wedge and see what I can do with it.

The behavior of the wood during the drying process also depends greatly on what part of the tree the wood is from. Trunk wood is the most stable part of the tree. Root ball can be interesting but you have to watch out for rocks and other embedded objects, it is also very wet. Branch wood is the most reactive as it grows under stresses to counter act gravity. When the tension is released all kinds of movement can occur. Sometimes very interesting movement especially for bowls and other art pieces. On the other hand it can crack quite destructively which can be disheartening.

-- - Terry

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6948 posts in 1604 days


#5 posted 04-10-2013 10:33 PM

Can’t go for the root ball, as the OTHER half of this tree has leafed out in full bloom. Geez, I swear that some plants act as if they actually have brains to make/decide which part lives and which part dies. There apparently is some science to support this theory. GEEZ! Rocky Horror Picture Show is REAL!

Anyway, can’t get to the root ball…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

1101 posts in 824 days


#6 posted 04-11-2013 01:41 PM

Mike looks like you still have parts of the cambium layer still on your blanks in pictures one & two. Talking about those reddish brown spots. You want to turn that away before using wood takes forever to sand through.

Some species too wet wood can really gum up a band saw blade even if already sprayed blade with PAM. End sealing and waiting couple of months makes a difference.

Some folks might recommend using polyurethane glue for gluing wet wood, guess depends on MC of the wood.

Fruit wood trees (Apply, Peach, Plum, and Mulberry) if end sealed & stored properly might crack while turning. Have never had a problem with cherry wood other than brown rot.

Reaction/tension wood; irregular grain growth in any part of a tree.
You find reaction/tension wood in bent base of tree & bent branches or damaged parts of a tree. Will find tension wood in softwoods, and reaction wood in hardwoods. End sealing and air drying about the same as regular wood with stable grain. Bowl, spindle, and hollow form turners often find a spot or two at bottom or sides that do not take finish or look funny and not much can do about it other than try to mask it.

Crotch wood and burls also contain crazy grain patterns. Same thing end seal and air dry.

-- Bill

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6948 posts in 1604 days


#7 posted 04-11-2013 03:43 PM

Bill, I turned down the rest of the cambium layer turning some beads and the like. Then cut a slab off for the bottom of the soon-to-pencil-cup, and mounted my 1/4in BS blade and cut out the center. Tehn glued the entry cup together and left in clamps overnight.

And now and now! Ta da! This is why this was a bad idea… Within 24hr the bottom slab cracked to the center and the cup cylinder had opened back up and spread apart. Live and learn ;-) Anyway, wanted to post this for others to also learn from example too.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View REO's profile

REO

628 posts in 764 days


#8 posted 04-11-2013 04:07 PM

strap the shell closed and use standard drying practices for the bottom Let it dry and THEN glue it all together. if you strap this one closed all in one shot it may crack in another spot but if you take your time and close it up slowly you may just salvage it.

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

4141 posts in 1070 days


#9 posted 04-15-2013 07:52 PM

I’m seeing why people just go ahead and turn down green wood then dry it and repair as necessary. I’ve had no luck drying in the round with anything over a couple inches diameter.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

1101 posts in 824 days


#10 posted 04-15-2013 09:52 PM

Here is a free reference on drying wood. While not applicable to woodturners basic information on drying wood is there. Most of what we try to dry greater than 8/4’s. Still would keep it handy and scan info until develop a plan that works for you and where you live.

http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplgtr/fplgtr118.pdf

Some wood species easier to dry than others, seen and unseen defects can spoil any plan to salvage a turning.
Rough turning speeds up the drying process, but need a uniform thickness. John Jordon talked about drilling pith out of bottoms on some of his hollow forms to prevent deterioration while drying.

One thing we cannot escape is movement of wood while it dries. In order for wood to dry must allow moisture to escape. People that completely cover their rough outs with wax emulsion sealer find they still have wet wood six months later.

-- Bill

View Jimbo4's profile

Jimbo4

1145 posts in 1452 days


#11 posted 04-30-2013 02:14 AM

Mike: When I turn wet (green) wood I have a handy H2o squirt bottle handy, and give it a squirt every so often so as to keep it wet. I’ve turned down to 1/8 inch with this method, and as luck would have it, haven’t had an “accident” yet. After it’s tuned, I spin the lathe up to 1800-2000, squirt a little bit of H2o on it, and the spinning will dry out the wood. BUT, the wall thickness must be 1/4 inch or less for this to work. Good luck.

-- *Arachnoleptic Fit*: The frantic dance performed just after you've accidently walked through a spider web.

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6948 posts in 1604 days


#12 posted 04-30-2013 02:33 AM

Thanks Jim. This is good info, though it is news to me. Haven’t done this myself, so I am a bit leery however that is better than I have had in the past, so you are up +10. Thank you.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Jimbo4's profile

Jimbo4

1145 posts in 1452 days


#13 posted 04-30-2013 04:19 PM

Mike: I forgot something ! Build a “wall” around the spinning object, I use newspaper, or everything in sight will be wet.

-- *Arachnoleptic Fit*: The frantic dance performed just after you've accidently walked through a spider web.

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6948 posts in 1604 days


#14 posted 04-30-2013 05:12 PM

Thanks Jim, that makes sense.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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