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Thread: Wood Drying Technique Needed

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Palm Springs, Ca

    Wood Drying Technique Needed

    New to the website and been turning for a short time and have been having alot of difficulty with the drying of green wood. I have read alot of articles about many ways to dry green wood and have some problems with drying. Thought i would explain what the kids and i have been trying and doing and see if anyone else has a better way or suggestions
    For practice i picked up alot of citrus wood from a friend who had cut down some trees (grapefruit trees). Have made alot of blanks and sealed one end with wax/thinner (6-1 ratio) and put them under cover with one end into the soil. So far they are check free. So i decided to try a few methods of drying without having to wait months.
    So i wanted to explain what ive been doing and see how everyone else is doing the drying or have any suggestions. I am in California and temps are hitting well into the 110's outside the garage.....Anyway

    1- brown bag techique - rough turned and placed n brown bag with some moisten wood chips. Works fine but takes way to long to dry for finishing and the kids do not have the patience to wait months so i ventured into other methods of
    2- Alcohol bath drying - works good on many types of woods and i have used a 5 gal pale to do the soaking in. Soaked from 5 hrs to over night and have had good lucking doing it this way with min warp. However i wanted to find another way to dry green wood (kids,animals etc around and denatured alcohol is not cheap)
    3 - Soap method - 50/50 with concentrated liquid dish soap - does not work well on this type of wood - rough turned and soaked over night and put on the bench in the garage to dry still wet. Result was each of the pc's cracked out bad.
    4 - completely turned to finish on the lathe - turned and wet/dry sanded and placed in a brown bag and sometimes just on the shelf in the garage for about 5 days. Then Oil/varnish for sealer, the sand and put on several additional coats. After that turn the tenon off and finish the bottom. Results are good with no checking.
    5- same method as 4 and soaked in alcohol overnight and dried for several days in the garage and then finished. Results are good this way also
    6 - microwave, Ethenol, boiling etc- dont want to try them, I guess just no interest in the technique.
    Conclusion - i have had mixed results and still looking for a good way to to dry without the checking and problems. I and the kids like the warping and its fun but i thought i would see how others are drying their green wood.....

    Thank you in advance for sharing any ideas or outlining your drying technique

    Dan in California

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Palm Springs, Ca
    Just a added note i have talked to Ron Kent on his protocol for concentrated soap and it does not work all all woods. He uses it on Norfolk pine which sucks it up and is very porus type of wood.
    Secondly, what i did find that it does do is in a squirt bottle it makes finish cuts very nice even with sharpen tools......Dan in Calif

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Hey Dan, first off, welcome to the clubhouse.

    Man, you've tried more drying methods than me by far. As I understand it, grapefruit wood likes to crack, so if you've found a way to get acceptable results, you're somewhat ahead of the game.

    I use the DNA bath method, and have had probably about 80% success rate with it. (I think most of the ones that did crack were because of uneven wall thickness, and the cracks were minor so I've still salvaged any that did.) I understand your concern about having DNA around with kids and such. My only "kids" are all four-legged and furry, and they don't go in the shop.

    One method that I read about recently on one of the turning websites (I don't remember which one) was posted by a guy in Europe (and I don't remember, I'm good, huh?). He turns green wood to finished thickness, then to help dry the wood during the sanding process he bathes the inside of the bowl with mineral spirits, and cranks up the speed on his lathe as much as he dares. Apparently, the centrifugal force pushes the mineral spirits into and through the wood, displacing moisture as it travels through the walls. If I remember correctly (mind like a trap...see above) he does this between each grit of sandpaper. He said he gets good results, with no cracking and very minimal warping. I suspect its effectiveness is related to how porous the wood is.

    I may try it sometime, just to see how it works. In your case though, it's another method that involves solvents and such. With kids, it may not be any better for you, especially since you're having success just turning to finished thickness and waiting a week.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Krum Texas
    Hey Dan,
    I'm with Vaughn on this one. Stick with what is working best for you. Looks like you have tried every method that I have ever read about with the exception of microwave and boiling. I will say that I like the boiling method but the only thing I boil is pen blanks. Works really well for me.

    I am probably one of the most impatient people you could ever meet when it comes to waiting on a roughed out turning to dry, so I know how you feel. I use the DNA soak and love it. You just have to force yourself to rough out a bunch of turnings and soak them. Every time I start to complete an already soaked and dry turning I will rough one or two out and throw them in the bucket to soak. Before you know it you will have a stock of turnings ready to finish. I don't bother weighing them. I just put a date on them after the soak and try to finish turn them in the order they were soaked. If you try to do one at a time the waiting game is just too much for me.

    I use a 2.5 gal bucket with a lid. It is big enough for anything my lathe will handle and the alcohol lasts a long long time; as long as you have the lid on it. I bought 2 gal and still have almost a full gal left that I use to add to the older stuff as needed. I read a really good article on the process not long ago and if I remember he would filter his with coffee filters every now and then to keep the junk out of it. I have young kids as well but I feel pretty safe with the lidded container. I drew a skull and crossbones on the top and they know what that means.

    I also turn lots of kiln dried wood. Most don't really like to do that but it is what I learned on and I don't mind it. I am lucky enough to live a couple miles away from a nice saw mill and I can get some nice 8/4 cedar, walnut, mesquite and many others really cheap. I turn lots of cedar because I use a lot of it in my flat work and always have scraps.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Inside the Beltway

    4 - completely turned to finish on the lathe - turned and wet/dry sanded and placed in a brown bag and sometimes just on the shelf in the garage for about 5 days. Then Oil/varnish for sealer, the sand and put on several additional coats. After that turn the tenon off and finish the bottom.

    Just for giggles, try this one. Turn to finish. Before you walk away from the lathe, coat it with shellac, inside and out. When the shellac is dry, sand, then shellac again. Continue this as you go through the grits. It will still warp (though I'm convinced it will warp slightly less, that's a completely irrational position on my part). But it's less likely to crack, as the shellac slows the loss of moisture and makes the loss more even. Or, instead of shellac, use some kind of oil. I can't get antique oil here, though lots of people swear by it, so I've used substitutes (like the fake tung oil they sell with drying agents mixed in). The idea here is to have the oil soak in right away to replace the moisture. I keep the lathe running on the lowest speed as I apply the oil, on the misguided assumption that'll help drive the oil into the wood.

    Some people use a thin CA glue on the outside, though that can get expensive when you're talking about bowls instead of pen blanks. Make sure it's finish turned if you try that, as the outside will be very, very hard, and you could get a nasty catch if you then use a gouge on it. Don't ask me how I know...

    Mostly, the best thing to do is what you're doing already: experiment, a lot, to see what works best with your climactic conditions and the kind of wood you're using...


    Last edited by Bill Lantry; 08-01-2008 at 02:39 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Murfreesboro. Tn

    Drying Green Wood

    I have not tried DNA but I am trying the freezer with some luck. You can rough turn or turn to finish then put in freezer for 30 days. I have only tried this on a few bowls and no cracks just some warp but not bad. My friend uses this method on redwood bowls and has done about 70 or 80 bowls. Its kind of strange to look for ice cream and get a wooden bowl.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Goodland, Kansas
    Dan on most of my fruitwoods I soak them in DNA for 48 to 72 hrs. I have left them in for a week when I forgot with no problems. I don't think 5 to 12 hrs is going to cut it at all. Dave Smith who got me started using this method said minimum 24 hrs. I have a skull and crossbones on my lid and it is a tight fitting lid. The kids know it is off limits and there are no pets allowed in the shop. I have only lost one bowl in 3 yrs. using this method and it was apple. So I would stick with what works. I did try the soap and all it did was make the sanding easier. The bowls still cracked.

    By the way I went thru the same stuff you did and kept coming back to the DNA.
    Last edited by Bernie Weishapl; 08-02-2008 at 04:19 AM.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: Thats when you return from work one day
    and say, Hi, Honey, Im home forever.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Palm Springs, Ca
    Thank you to everyone for the comments on drying
    I am going to go back to the alcohol soaking as it appears to work the best in the desert climate here in california. I will try soaking for longer periods of time but i have not had any real problems with shorter soaks but because i work to soaking for longer periods sure dont hurt and i have let them soak longer with good results.......
    Articles i have read say:
    Soak, air dry for a hr or so and then wrap the end grain and leave the inside open and put on a shelf for several weeks.
    Another says to soak and let sit open on any shelf (garage im guessing) with no wrapping and let dry.
    Another soak, air dry for a hr, finish turn totally, let dry another day or so and finish
    Many articles and again more trials i guess.....LOL

    Read a article the other night where the guy totally finishes the bowl on the lathe (sanding,tenon off etc) and puts a good coat of oil onto the wood and just lets it sit out in his shop to dry. Stating it will warp and do what it wants but should not crack because its thin enough to allow flexability and displacement to occur easily being thin at that point. However - it did not say what kind of wood or what climate etc he is it will be another trial just to see what happens.......

    So ill try some of the above over the next few weeks and let you know how it goes.......either nice bowls or designer firewood........

    Thank you all ......Dan in Calif

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