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Thread: What is best way to dry short basswood logs?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Yankton, SD

    Question What is best way to dry short basswood logs?


    I'm a hobbyist woodcarver. A friend called and said they had a basswood tree on their property that had fallen about 4 years ago in a storm. They just decided to try and get rid of it. They were going to burn it. I hate the thought of free wood going to waste. He cut up some chunks of it for me. I have several more than what is shown in the picture. My question is if there is a best way to prepare it for later carving? Should I take the bark off? Should I leave it on? Should I seal the ends with something? If so, what product should I use. Should I try and cut each one down the middle? Should I try and cut a groove or knotch down the length of each one? Should I leave the logs in my garage or outside, ect., ect. I'm hoping to prevent too much checking but I just am not sure what the best procedure is. I would appreciate any advice on what you would do.


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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    not a carver but have used anchorseal for checking in logs and it has done well.. can be gotten at woodcraft for a small quantity.. or check out anchorseal on the web search threw google..
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  3. #3
    You can also seal the ends with a couple thick layers of latex paint. Take the bark off. If you have the ability to do a relief cut to help stop checking, that would be good.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Central NY State
    Welcome to Family Woodworking!
    Anchorseal is great, and from what I've read, latex paint is also good. The drier the location you store them, the faster they'll dry, but it is a slow process. S...l...o...w....
    Bark off will help reduce rot too. If you want to make carving blanks, you might want to cut the blocks to approximate size, less wood, faster drying.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Emporia, KS
    Just curious. If this tree fell four years ago as indicated, hasn't it been drying for four years?
    (I guess I am assuming that the tree died when it fell.)

    Last edited by Wayne Eikenberry; 12-05-2011 at 03:02 AM. Reason: Added last sentence.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Yankton, SD

    Yes, it has been down for 4 years, at least that is what they told me. They said that the whole root ball had come up out of the ground too, so I assume it had died. I do not have a moister tester, but it seems like it is still a bit wet. I noticed that the ends of the logs had some checking, but the middle of the log is for sure not dry. My question is how do I tell when it is ready to carve? I have usually just bought kiln dryed basswood. I just wanted to see if I might possibly get some decent air dryed basswood out of this. I think I'll try and remove the bark and cut up some into smaller blocks and coat the ends and see what happens. Thanks everyone for your suggestions.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Westphalia, Michigan
    John you will want to make boards out of those blocks right away. The reason why is that wood in the round will dry from the outside in especially if the ends are well sealed. this will cause tangential stress causing the blocks to crack either from the center out toward the edges or the reverse direction. My experience with drying basswood has been very good when the round blocks are cut into rectangles and the ends sealed. If you are carving on 1" to 3" thick boards then I would saw the blocks down to those dimensions plus maybe a 1/4" if you really need a certain thickness. You can then sticker the boards to allow good air movement and prevent mold. If you bring them into a heated environment they should dry over the low humidity conditions of Winter. Another aside; I just gutted an old dishwasher I am putting in my shop. Call it a poor man's kiln. with a fan and an incandescent light bulb or 2 it will be my pen blank kiln.

    By the way I have access to as much basswood as I'll ever want so if you want some just drop me a PM and if you pay the shipping I can get what you want. I will be sawing some this winter. I am thinking about building a basswood kayak and have a friend who does this and he wants some boards 1" x 20 ft. Basswood is considered a low value tree in my neighborhood and there are too many in the woods I am currently sawing in. I will be culling some of them so they don't compete with higher value trees. I felled one a few years ago that was 50" by 40" at the butt. Biggest tree I ever cut down. A lot of it was wasted because it was hard to move. I did chainsaw mill a few planks off for some Michigan woodcarvers.
    I'm a certifiable tree hugger. (it's a poor mans way of determining DBH before cutting the tree down)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    John, I'm a carver and ww myself and although all the basswod I use comes from the warehouse I would do what Paul Downes suggests. I've seen from your gallery that you carve mainly small to medium size objects, I would make blocks of about the sizes that you mostly use.

    Even using kiln dryed basswood I had one of my reliefs curving inwards by almost an inch at the outer edges, when it dried faster on the carving side due to material removal.
    Best regards,

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