Turning Archive

Drying Wood

Jerry Maske
It's a standard joke; put twelve wood turners in a group, ask a question and you'll get THIRTEEN answers. And drying wood is one of those. It's been talked over a lot here and on other forums. Well, I thought I understood what I was doing with it, until things started cracking under conditions I'd never have expected.

The BIG issue is Green Wood. I took down a Maple. 24" diameter and have some nice sized pieces out of it. Cut out the pith and "Rough Turned" two pieces into different shapes. One was a fairly aggressive hollow form and the other is a Dough Bowl my bride requested. Turned both without difficulty.

In the past, when I've turned a piece green, I've left the walls and bottom a little thick and set the piece out to dry. They always have dried without issue. Went to check on these two and they were LOADED with cracks!

Some time back I learned a Potter's trick about curing cracks and tried it. Put wet paper towels over the cracks and put the pice in a plastic bag. And it worked perfectly on the wood; no cracks. Did it the second day just to be sure and this morning both pieces looked good enough that I didn't put the wet paper towels on them, but DID put them back in a plastic bag. I'll keep them in plastic for a day or so and see what happened.

My reason for this post is that Something Has Changed, and I don't know what. Local Maple has always behaved itself when drying and has NEVER caused any trouble, as long as I got the pith out. So I have no clue what happened, but now I know that I have to, at the very least, keep a close watch on something I turn wet. And if it starts showing cracks, shift to recovery mode.

I know all this has been kicked around a lot, but I was wondering if someone can spot something in my process I got wrong. I don't have any problem taking my time with this stuff, so if there's something else I should have done, please tell me. Hate Cracks!


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