View Full Version : Wood checking crisis!
04-07-05, 12:14 AM
A few hurricane seasons ago here in florida we lost a gigantic Laural Oak, and as it crashed to the ground it took a small Live Oak too. The Laural I cut up recently and have been making beautiful handles from. The Live Oak is a difrent story altogether though. I forgot it even existed.
I had been looking all over for a piece of Live Oak heart wood but the stuff seriously checks. Most that I got my hands on was too badly cracked to use.
Then I remembered the tree that had gone down in the hurricane. It had gotten cut up into sections and thrown in a corner of the yard. By some miracle it had sat for 4 years with only very shallow cracking.
So dad and I chainsawed :jason the short logs lengthwise into slices that could be table sawed, dipped their ends in wax, and put them to dry a bit more in the rafters. We also cut a small piece off to have a look at (and waxed its ends too). Absolutly gorgeous grain in it. All sorts of difrent colors running through it. There was somthing about how it grew under the shade of the much larger Laural oak that seems to have stunted it and made the grain even more interesting.
So this morning I checked on the stash and nearly had a cow :yikes: It was checking in the sides and ends. The one slat that had been cut had not checked at all though. It ended up warping slightly but I think that was due to it being left on its side.
So with that in mind we cut up about a third of it yielding 45 pairs of slats and 4 plugs. I waxed the ends on these and wrapped them all in saran wrap so they wouldnt loose any moisture untill I consulted yall about my crisis.
Anyone who can offer advice to help save my lifetime supply of wood please help!!
04-07-05, 12:19 PM
i think big chunks in the corner of the yard for a few more years would have been ideal
find somewhere outside, dry but not in the rain and sun to stack the remaining bits
this idea of waxing the ends seems to work only sometimes
at best it is a poor substitute for letting the wood season naturally over time
perhaps the smaller bits you can save by stabilising in resin
hope that helps some
04-07-05, 01:20 PM
thanks tant, I've still got some more of it yet off in the corner of the yard. Its the wierdest wood a far as checking goes though. It doesnt behave like any of the other oaks and is much more dense.
Well I guess we shall see what happens
There is a thread somewhere with a link to a microwave drying 'how to' it might be worth trying that with a small bit. The author claims that its is very effective on difficult woods, I've not tried it myself though.
04-07-05, 08:17 PM
i really dont know a surefire way to stop wood splitting or warping
but i do remember an odd display cabinet in my dads office that belonged to the royal scottish forrestry society
it was trotted out at every exhibition and show that the rsfs attended and replaced in the office afterwards, to all intents and purposes a rather plain thing and as a kid i assumed it was only because it had the forrestry society logo nicely carved into it
I cant remember now if i asked or if it was just one of those conversations that started. but the story of the case was quite interesting, it was the first piece of commercially viable mahogany that had been grown in scotland
presented to the society who handed it over to a cabinet maker who left it sitting in his yard for 15 years afraid to saw it till it was fully seasoned. Only having one piece meant if anything went wrong there would be nothing he could do to stop it warping or cracking.
eventually he did saw it and make the display case which I am sure is still trotted out with reverence every highland show and other events.
Seasoning it seems is a thing best done slowly.
I looked at the case in a different light after that too, all the more interesting because of the story, and scottish mahogany well it is still as rare as rocking horse poo
04-07-05, 09:25 PM
Felling trees is an art. In storms the tree falls and lands badly and often it causes large amounts of cracks and trauma to the internal timber. Also some species like sweet chestnut have notorious spiral grain and are very prone to splitting. You did the right thing by sealing it and wrapping it but is its still green it may spalt. I have had some very dogey woods in my time. The key is to slow the rate of drying so that it reaches a descending equilibrium i.e. the timer is loosing water at a constant slow rate so that the wet timber has time to come close to the moisture content of the outer fibres. If you have small pieces you could try a local timer dryer/seasoner/mill to see if you can sling some in a kiln. But in saying all this if the tree fell really badly (like over something or landed on something hard) no mater how much care is given to the drying you may still end up with lots of shake.
05-07-05, 02:52 AM
I've found that, for small pieces, PVA wood glue helps a lot.
Smother it all over (best for whole rounds & small cut pieces, doesn't work so well on split boughs)
Bitumastic works well too;)
05-07-05, 04:56 PM
Thanks guys, ive got so much of it I'm going to try difrent methods
Some I will microwave- results coming! (Thanks Narsil I found the article)
Some I'm going to pain it a thin layer of wood glue
And the rest I'm going to put in a cardboard box and tape it shut. Once indoors in the AC I think that It will loose moisture but very slowly.
LF- the tree whent down pretty easy. Infact its rootball had intertwined with the larger oak so that when that blew over it eased right on with it. they landed half in the street so the city came out and sawed them right off at the property line and their 8 foot stumps stood right back up. They seasoned there for 2 years then got cut down and stacked for two more.
05-07-05, 05:29 PM
Microwave drying was not a succsess. After the first session in the machine it was checked everywhere!
It would probobly work on other woods but not this stuff.
06-07-05, 01:51 AM
you have several things that are not in your favor when working with that species of Oak...
#1...the check and splits may have been there since the hurricane..the swaying motion generated by the winds may have ripped the fibers apart as mentioned...high winds wreck fibers in a tree...I worked as a procurement Forester and followed the aftermath of some hurricanes along the Gulf...we wouldnt consider sending most of the salvage timber to a sawmill because of the damage done to the fibers...sawing them revealed nothing but a mass of shredded wood pulp...
#2...Live Oak is also noted for its twisted grain pattern...it has a natural tendency to to warp and check...very tough woos to keep from developing splits even in short lengths...
maybe if you can cut some pieces into 4 foot lengths and seal the ends with wax or paint and then store them fr several years in a dry place, you may be able to control some of the checks...even stored for a long period of time, wood will retain a high moisture content...I have some species of hardwood drying now for 3 years and still are wet when cut...good luck
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