Seasoning Wood

Maybe it’s the 5 straight days of torrential down pours that prompted this idea, but I thought some of you find some tips on drying wood helpful.  And, if any of you want to share some tips on how to stay dry in the great northwest, I would gladly welcome them.  I have done some searching and found some great advise from fellow woodworkers that have posted in various blogs and forums on how to season your lumber and prevent warping, twisting and cracking.

What is Seasoning Wood:

When wood is used in a woodworking project or for construction of any kind, it needs to be properly dried or seasoned.  It is important that the wood have the same moisture as it’s surrounding. The wood will naturally absorb and desorb moisture until it has reached the same moisture content of it’s surroundings.  When the wood dries it shrinks.  If it dries to quickly, it may have unequal shrinkage which will damage the wood and cause it to split or warp.

Why Season your wood?:

If you take a great pride in the work you do, I’m willing to bet you own your fair share of quality woodworking tools.  When you pair skill and quality materials, you are almost sure to end up with a quality product.  The last thing you want is for your woodworking project to be ruined due to the lumber not being seasoned before beginning.

There are some things you can do to help prevent uneven shrinkage, splitting and checking.  Here are some tips from other woodworkers:

  • “Coat the ends with polybond right (away). That      will stop the wood checking”

 

  • “If its a really evil wood for checking like      laburnum, there’s something you should immerse it in, but, for the life of      me I can’t remember the name. (The name was Poly Ethylene      Glycol)   If you’re planking it, now’s a good time to do it, and      set the “planks” on spacers to even out the air around      it. “

 

  • “Wax is the material that has been used for more      than a thousand years. I have heard of people getting good results from      “Emulsion Paint” but that didn’t work for me. I believe      “White glue” (PVA) has had some good results but I haven’t tried      that.
    Incidentally there has been some interesting work done with Poly Ethylene      Glycol” (PEG) a Waxy organic compound that can be made to REPLACE the      water content in some porous materials. It’s what is used to preserve and      CONSERVE archeological material like the wood from the Mary Rose.”

 

  • “A lot of the cracking is a result of drying      unevenly. The outside layers dry faster than the inside so it shrinks      while the inner core does not. Because of that its going to crack      somewhere. If you cut it when its green, like cutting it in half, then      that stress is eliminated but there are still others such as from the ends      and you have a higher chance of warping because the fibers don’t have      countering stresses. (by that I mean that they are all going in the same      direction. If you take 2 boards each warped in the opposite direction and      glue them together they will go straight because they counter each other.      A branch is like that with countering fibers. When you cut it you      unbalance that and there is no way of knowing which way its going to go.)      The amazing thing about wood is there are no guaranties on anything.”

 

  • “Wood can be seasoned by keeping it in a dry place      – shed – garage for example and waiting for the water content to reduce to      about 7% you can assess this by weighing the wood periodically, the weight      loss is water.”

 

If you have tips of your own, please feel free to share them in the comments.

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