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Thread: How to dry live edge?

  1. #1

    How to dry live edge?

    'Morning. I'm having one of my trees trimmed tomorrow. They'll be taking off a couple bigger branches, one that's 8"-10" in diameter. I was thinking I might be able to make a live edge clock out of some slices of it. Maybe a serving or display platter. Maybe a picture frame. But I don't know where to start. Never dried any fresh wood or done anything live edge.

    Tree is healthy and living right now. The branches to be removed aren't rotting or degraded.

    Should I just ask the trimmers to cut some 3" thick discs off the end? How long should I dry it? HOW should I dry it (wax/plastic/something else?) How do I keep the bark from coming off? Once it's dry, how do I flatten and plane it without taking off the bark? etc etc etc. I really have no idea about any of this.

    Any advice is welcome. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Escondido, CA
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    David, do some study on reaction wood. Branch wood grows differently and thus behaves very differently from trunk wood. That will help you make some decisions about your wood in the drying and milling of it.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

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    Carol Reed

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    David,
    A lot depends....on the type of tree (maple, cherry, etc.), where you live in terms of climate, and what you mean by live edge. Some trees dry faster than others and a thin slice, or cookie usually starts to dry and most likely check right away, because wood looses moisture much faster through end grain. Sealing the end grain with something like Anchorseal slows the process and might prevent some of the checking. I've seen suggestions that if you cross cut the tree at an angle, so you get an oblong cookie, the wood will resist checking better. If you cut the branch lengthwise into boards you still need to seal the ends to slow moisture loss. With regard to keeping the bark on, if the sap has not started to rise where you live there is a better chance of the bark staying on. If the sap has risen to make the tree start to bud and leaf out, it will be harder to keep the bark intact. I have had good luck keeping the bark on by running a bead of thin CA glue along the line where the bark meets the wood when turning live edge bowls. YMMV

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Cutting cross at an angle also give you the advantage of a bigger piece. Oblong, but bigger.
    "We the People ......"

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Since branch wood dries differently with regard to flatness ans stability, I wonder how cutting cross at an angle will affect that. Maybe that will help mitigate the tension being released when cutting the wood. This is reaction wood. There is much greater tension on one side of the pith (middle) than on the other. The reason being to hold the branch up when growing. When you cut those wood fibers, interesting stuff likely will happen.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  6. #6
    Thanks for the replies. Reading about reaction wood has been interesting. I don't think I gave enough info. I'm not going to be turning anything. Basically, just a flat round (or oblong) of wood with holes punched in it. I'm thinking that, after drying, the best thing to do will be apply a few layers of clear epoxy.

    Something like this (which also clearly illustrates Carol's concerns about reaction wood):


    A dinner platter would just be maybe 3/4" - 1" thick, flat, round, bark on the outside.

    Picture frame would be same but with the center cut-out and the back routed for the matte & picture.

    Nothing as fancy as most of y'all make.

    So basically, I just need to dry the wood, sand it, and finish it.

    Sounds like the plan would be cut a round or oblong piece and coat the sides w/ Anchorseal. How long to leave it sit?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Yorktown, Virginia
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    One way is to weigh the piece weekly with your kitchen scale and write down the numbers. When it's no longer losing weight it has reached equilibrium and is ready to work. It's best not to dry it too fast because that will encourage checking. Make sure you coat all end grain with Anchorseal and try to keep it off the bark, it's hard to clean off if you want a natural bark edge.

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