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  • Curing wood

    Hi! I fancy having a go at carving a sculpture in wood. I have a piece of conifer tree recently felled from a friends garden, its about 3 feet high and 1 foot in diameter. I'm aware that i cannot carve it immediately as it may split, so i was wondering if anyone could help with the time period i should leave the wood to cure and what conditions it should be left in?

  • #2

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    • #3
      Re: Curing wood

      I was told that when carving an unseasoned pine log, cutting a groove full length to the center of the log will allow the log to dry uniformly and the groove prevents further cracking. Just hearsay for me as I have never tried it. :

      Or...you could let the wood split and fill them with shims.
      Or...you could let the wood split and say that's the way you intended it to look. Carry the chainsaw around with you, who's gonna argue?

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      • #4
        Re: Curing wood

        LIKE YOU'RE STYLE, CAPT!!!!!!!

        Al

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        • #5
          Re: Curing wood

          This from 'Woodcarving The Beginner's Guide' by William Wheeler & Charles H. Hayward -
          'An alternative often mentioned is carving from the solid tree trunk. On the face of it this seems a good idea, but is never successful however long it has been seasoning. For whenever the heart of the tree is left, shakes of various kins appear, and more so when the tree is opened up by tools in the different stages of carving. A close examination of some old work without shakes or cracks reveals that the wood was solidly jointed by joiners, but in a way that left the figure hollow. Sometimes, if not free standing but placed against a wall, this work was similarly hollowed, usually by the carver who wanted to make sure the heart was not there to destroy his work.'

          For whatever it's worth.

          Incidently that's an excellent book if you happen to Se Habla Limey.

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          • #6

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            • #7
              Re: Curing wood

              A log will split because the outside dries faster than the core of the piece.Since the outside shrinks,with moisture loss,and the center dosen't,cracks appear.Now if you seal the ends,and leave the center open,moisture will leave from the center,allowing the outer layers to shrink down.This method has worked for me in most cases.There are all sorts of tricksyou can use,santa type figure,wood still 'wet',drill in from bottom3/4inch bit,duct tape bag over top section,let moisture come out bottom,and inside,same with a bust ,drill out from under side,..There will be all sorts of variables waiting to mess you up>Microwave ovens are great on small blocks to16x8x10inches.Moisture cooks out of center so while you can get some checking,cracking is lessened.Also bag the carving once you waste the wood,as you carve,use a spritz bottle to keep surface wet,rebag,every several days,take carving out and flip the bag to get rid of condensed moisture on the bag inside surface.Always remember that sooner or later,that fantastic walnut/cherry carving you put 200 hours in,starting with green wood may have pieces,parts fall off,or split in half.What to do then? For openers,you can always add a few lines to the big book of woodcarving curses...............

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              • #8
                Re: Curing wood

                I am a tree and tree trunk carver that is all I carve. It doesnt matter what the wood is if it is the whole tree or part of it will crack it doent matter what you do to it. I find that the best way for me is to let it dry outside in the elements for about a year before carving it. After that it will not my completly dry but will develop cracks and you can determine where the major cracks will develop and plan your carving from there. If you cut the log in half it will check only half as bad but it will check. I find that the best for me is if I can find a log large enough to cut it into four 1/4s. Now I carve woodspirits so all my carvings are faces when cut into 1/4s all the checks will go to the back of the carving and will be very small cracks and none will be in the face that I carve into the point of the 1/4 log.
                Hope that this is of some help to you the other alternative is to let it crack and call it character.
                Colin Partridge

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                • #9
                  Re: Curing wood

                  is it fine to put cottonwood roots near a house heater to speed upthe curing process??

                  www.santosdepalo.freeservers.com

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                  • #10
                    Re: Curing wood

                    Hi santosdepalo, welcome to the group! Just checked out your web and want to congratulate you on a great site and excellent work.
                    I would suggest that drying your wood using direct heat might lead to excessive cracking. If the pieces have any cut ends I would seal them (e.g. with wax) and let them dry at ambient temperature.
                    Good luck and keep up the good work!

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