Project:Drying Timber

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Drying Timber

Drying timber variety.JPG
Status: ongoing
Release Date: started in 2016, first products in 2018
Initiator: Lukas
Team: Luzian;
kind contributions from Airlag & Narquadah
Materials Used: various kinds of wood;
wood glue, paraffin, clear lacquer
Tools Used: chainsaw, pocket chainsaw, hacksaw, drawknife
Approx. Cost: mostly time & space


Before actively looking for sources of unprocessed timber or rough-cut boards for woodturning blanks or projects like a "river table", I want to experiment with drying and storage techniques to see which works best. Drying too fast will cause the wood to crack while incomplete drying allows fungi to grow.

Here you'll find my experiences! Different woods are tested as they probably won't behave alike.


Progress/Results

Species (Early) Photo Approx. Dimensions Source Treatment Storage Outcome Use Notes
yew Airlag's yew logs.jpg two logs Airlag none Lukas' CoMaking bench since 2019-2-6; garage approx. 5 years before that
pine Pine log drying in attic.JPG log forest (left over by workers a few weeks before <???>) bark mostly gone already, no further treatment uninsulated attic since 2016-9-25 not too great (poor) chop block, then firewood (2017-5) first "attempt" without any effort, no big surprise...
beech Early beech drying attempt.jpg log sawn from fallen tree <???> one side splintered, no special treatment uninsulated attic since <???> planned: mallet head
apple Apple logs prepared.JPG three logs approx. ø 8 × 45 cm orchard cut into pieces for various approaches:
  • 1.5 cm discs with and without bark
  • untreated log
  • log with cut faces painted over
  • log with bark removed and cut faces painted over
planned: woodturning
cherry Checked cherry painted.JPG small piece gardener at the JKI Dossenheim (2016-12) cut faces painted after two months outside
  • double coat of clear lacquer
  • too late - already had several cracks
maple Checked maple painted.JPG small piece gardener at the JKI Dossenheim (2016-12) cut faces painted after two months outside
  • double coat of clear lacquer
  • too late - already had several cracks
beech Spalted beech painted.JPG small log sawn from fallen tree (2017-2-5) cut faces painted after two weeks outside "marbled" with some kind of fungus (spalting)
Robinia Lumberjack cake stand 02.JPG large log sawn from fallen tree 2017-10-21 (top) cut face painted when brought to the Space
  • double coat of wood glue and water mixture
  • left standing upright
nice overall, some cracks (could have started before treatment) wedding cake stand (2018-4)
apple Outdoor dried apple log.jpg small log uncle's firewood pile 2018-10-7 (cut approx. 6 months earlier) cut faces sealed 2018-10-8 balcony until <???>, then Lukas' CoMaking bench
ash Outdoor dried ash log.JPG small log uncle's firewood pile 2018-10-7 (cut approx. 6 months earlier) cut faces sealed 2018-10-8
  • paraffin (microwaved candle stumps and drops from burning candles)
balcony until <???>, then Lukas' CoMaking bench
beech Outdoor dried beech log.JPG small log uncle's firewood pile 2018-10-7 (cut approx. 6 months earlier) cut faces sealed 2018-10-8
  • paraffin (microwaved candle stumps and drops from burning candles)
balcony until <???>, then Lukas' CoMaking bench
ash Ash log paraffin treatment.JPG large log with "handle" branch roadside (left over by workers a few days before 2018-3-3) cut faces covered when brought to the Space put under Lukas' CoMaking bench immediately (2018-3-3) planned: axe/hammer handles
unknown - maybe apple? Putative apple log + glue.JPG small log spring cutting in gardens 2019-1-29 cut faces covered with two coats of wood glue 2019-2-4
unknown - willow, linden, poplar, ash, alder or sycamore?? Kim's mystery timber.JPG two thick logs:
  • ø 37 × 20 cm
  • ø 34 × 27 cm
Narquadah (cut around 2018-10) cut faces covered with wood glue 2019-2-13 put under Lukas' CoMaking bench immediately; removed upon discovery of boring beetles 2019-2-27 probably failed due to insect infestation - waited too long after felling planned: bowl turning
zwetschge (yup, that's the English name) Cut up zwetschge before sealing.JPG nearly an entire tree:
  • ø 14 × 100 cm
  • ø 12 × 55 cm
  • ø 10 × 30 cm
  • ø 8 × 80/55/35 cm
  • ø 6 × 55/35 cm
  • ø 5 × 60 cm
grandma's garden 2019-2-18 cut faces covered with tree wound sealant (silicone or wood glue-based by the smell of it?) on the same day
  • the fungizide part of the sealant is not necessary, but this is what we had at hand
  • the largest log was also stripped of its bark
  • smallest piece (wedge) sealed with paraffin instead
carport "attic"
  • little wedge brought inside immediately
planned: at least some furniture & knife scales
pear Pear branch cut faces.JPG two medium branches:
  • ø 7 × 45 cm
  • ø 5 × 40 cm
grandma's garden 2019-2-18 cut faces covered with tree wound sealant (silicone or wood glue-based by the smell of it?) on the same day
  • the fungizide part of the sealant is not necessary, but this is what we had at hand
carport "attic" planned: ornamental woodturning
tree of heaven (Götterbaum) Götterbaum-Reststück.JPG leftover piece from log splitting Micha/scrap bin 2019-5-29 split 2019-5-28, no further treatment Lukas' CoMaking bench after splitting planned: carving or woodturning
wild cherry Wild cherry logs sealed.jpg two logs: not measured yet garden 2019-10-26 faces sealed with wood glue 2019-10-27 & 2019-10-28 (3x over existing small checks) balcony since 2019-10-27 planned: furniture

Further Ideas

  • get/make a moisture meter
  • there is an Instructable on kiln drying at home, but it seems to require lots of space and electricity
  • try cheaper and ecologically safer options than clear lacquer for painting cut faces
  • wood discs can reportedly be placed in a bucket of sawdust to dry, be treated with "wood hardener" or weighed down in a stack and rotated every few weeks
    • not tried yet, but as they are really hard to dry it's best to not cut the timber into discs when still fresh!
  • thin-walled bowls turned out of "green", non-dried wood can supposedly by dried in triple paper bags without checking (cracking) [1]
    • completely different approach, could allow to skip the drying step for some projects?
  • write down some of this "theory" part more nicely
    • drying speed with grain, role of bark, importance to cover faces
    • start with long pieces - gives you room to cut off cracked ends