Turning green wood versus dry wood

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Forum topic by Betsy posted 02-08-2009 07:00 AM 5601 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3392 posts in 4132 days

02-08-2009 07:00 AM

Topic tags/keywords: green wood turning

I did not get any response to my blog post – I posted there first since I’ve been trying to blog my progression. But I wanted to open it up to everyone as I know some do not go to the blogs. So here goes.

OK – to the basics. I’ve managed to learn quite a few of the basic cuts and which tool to do what with. Now I’d like to make something on my own – oh the concept of independence. Now the snag. What to make and what wood to use.

I thought I’d try to make one of the scoops we made in class last week to see if I could duplicate it.

As to the wood.

When is wood no longer considered green enough to turn as green wood? For instance I have some walnut root that has been sitting in my drive for about 9 months – some as large as 6” round. In theory if wood dries an inch a year – then this should still be “green wood.” I also have some wood that was cut down about 2-3 years ago that is about 10 -12” diameter.

I know that dried wood, especially kiln dried, is both harder to turn and harder on your tools. But if someone can enlighten me on the “green zone” I’d appreciate the input.

Thanks in advance

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

6 replies so far

View lew's profile


12495 posts in 3991 days

#1 posted 02-08-2009 07:23 AM


I don’t know if this helps, but I had a Maple blank about 12” in diameter and a little over 5” thick. It was laying in the basement for about a year. I used it for a test piece for the BowlSaw. When I cut out the daughter blank with the saw, the center wood was still not dried. It wasn’t dripping wet as freshly cut wood but it definitely wasn’t dry.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View cosmicturner's profile


403 posts in 3631 days

#2 posted 02-08-2009 04:13 PM

Hi Betsy,
Just a thought from my way of thinking here goes wood is never dry it will move even if it is “dry 8%” turn some wood that you don’t care about at first to get the feel of everything from the tools to the wood movement. I have had many projects twist and warp, some people look at those pieces and see it in a positive way. Just have fun and keep turning stuff from the firewood pile, find dry and try fresh cut soaked, the goal is to gain knowledge enjoy the process don’t expect things to be pefect, turn it, seal it, and watch it move or maybe not! there are things you can do to try and control but it gets kind of crazy. you will learn it all in time and experiance.
The wood you were asking about is still wet and will more than likely warp if the center ring of the tree (pith) is in the wood it will 95% likely split.

-- Cosmicturner

View odie's profile


1691 posts in 4076 days

#3 posted 02-08-2009 06:06 PM

What is dry where you live. Here in Truckee it’s 8%. I turn only dry wood 8% – 12%, and I prefer 8%. I buy bowl blanks 2” x 12” up to 4” x 12’’ and everything in between. My supplier has a moisture meter and I have one at home. I don’t have room to store half finished bowls. If I only turned bowls like others I would find the time and space to store half finished bowls for six months. When I finish a dry blank IT’S FINISHED!

You mention “per inch drying time”. I believe that is per inch of thickness and not diameter. If you have a green blank that is 12” x 3” the drying time would be 3 years + or -. You would want to “paint” the ends and store in a constant temperature with air flow on all 6 sides.

I would consider 20 to 80 percent green personally.

-- Odie, Confucius say, "He who laughs at one's self is BUTT of joke". (my funny blog)

View Betsy's profile


3392 posts in 4132 days

#4 posted 02-08-2009 06:50 PM

Thanks guys.

Think I will just give some of each a try and see what happens. I found some mahogany in the shop last night that I had cut to make chess pieces – so I’ll start there.

thanks again.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4289 days

#5 posted 02-08-2009 07:47 PM

Hi Betsy,

I’ve heard others on this site that advocate turning your bowl or vase or whatever from a green blank to the rough shape of what you’re creating, but leave it about an inch thick. Green wood is much easier to turn than dry. Once you get to this point, put your roughed out piece in a paper bag and let it sit for 3 or four months. I’ve also heard of wrapping it in a disposable diaper and then putting it in the paper bag. I guess the thinking here is that the diaper helps absorb the moisture. I’ve got one I roughed out that’s been sitting for 2 months in a paper bag and although I don’t have a moisture meter, I can tell it’s still a little damp. At any rate, once it dries, I’ll re-chuck it and finish it off.

I’ve heard of other’s that will soak the roughed out blank in denatured alcohol and then set it out to dry. Supposedly the alcohol displaces the moisture and when you set it out to dry, it evaporates much more quickly than H2O does. I actually heard this one come out of David Marks’ mouth, so I’d consider it reputable.

Another thing I’ve heard people do is to put it in the microwave. Not so sure about this one.

Keep in mind this is all “hearsay” and that research on your part would be most prudent. There’s some great books out there also. Regards, Carl.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View Betsy's profile


3392 posts in 4132 days

#6 posted 02-16-2009 08:45 PM

Thanks Carl – I’ve heard about the paper bag trick – but was not sure about it. I’m reading up on all this turning stuff – sure is a lot out there!

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

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