Boiling wood question

Discussion in 'Tutorials and Tips' started by Hugh, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. Hugh

    Hugh

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    Hi there,
    I have boiled Madrone wood, both burl and straight grain wood with great success. The questions I have is: What about other wood? Has anyone ever boiled Valley Oak wood? Valley Oak is "Mush Oak" I believe. What were the results?

    I got into a huge Valley Oak a couple of years ago and roughed out a number of bowls. I sealed them with Anchor Seal and put away to dry. The darn things cracked. Now I got into another Valley Oak and I do not want to waste my time roughing out bowls if they are going to crack. And I thought the boiling may work. I know - try it. The problem is that I will not know the results for a long time (months), and I need to process this wood in the near future. So I am looking to you all for help. Thanks.
    Hugh
     
  2. n7bsn

    n7bsn

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    That wood in specific, no. But many of your questions might be answered here
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2008
  3. Steve Worcester

    Steve Worcester Admin Emeritus

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    That is from Steven Russell in Houston area. Probably who I would consider the authority on the topic.
     
  4. Frank Kobilsek

    Frank Kobilsek

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    Hugh

    There is a gentleman in our Club that boils everything. You still need consistent wall thickness. And he stresses that the piece must be at a rolling boil for a full hour per inch of thickness. I have never seen his set up but I hear its is a roaring fire and a big kettle.

    I sit in the DNA pew of the rough turned bowl drying church. As an engineer the science of niether method makes any sense but I have faith in the DNA method.

    Frank
     
  5. Hugh

    Hugh

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    Thanks for the replys everyone. Nice article from Steve Russell. I think I will try it. I have the huge pot and the burner since I boil madrone bowls. I just hate it when I rough out a bowl and then it cracks so I can not use it.
    Anyone else with experience at this ?
    Thanks.
    Hugh
     
  6. Bob Chapman

    Bob Chapman

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    Sorry, but what's the DNA method Frank? I've puzzled over the initials but can't make anything of them other than the usual meaning.

    Bob
     
  7. Frank Kobilsek

    Frank Kobilsek

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    That OK Bob's

    DNA = Denatured Alcohol. The method is that you soak your roughed out bowls in the DNA for 24 hours, let them air dry until not damp, less than an hour, then wrap in two layers of newspaper. Most people cut a 1 to 2" diameter hole thru the paper on the open side of the bowl. Set the blank aside to dry. Some folks will tell you the bowl is ready to turn in 3 to 6 weeks. I am more comfortable with 10 to 12 weeks or longer but certainly less than the year per inch of traditional rough/wax/wait method.

    In the Church of Blank Drying you will find at least one other sect in addtion to the Traditional, the Boilers, and the DNA snifffers. They sit in the LDD pew. Liquid Dishwashing Detergent method is similar to the DNA in practice just a different solution.

    Of course as I call people names we should not forget those that make warped and wobbly bowls from wet wood, I guess they would be in the thin to win pew. I just think they are impatient.

    There are battles here and on other forums about which is best and if some of them a just plain fantasy or not. The Church pew analogy is appropriate. It really is like religion and which method you choose to have faith in.

    Frank
     
  8. MichaelMouse

    MichaelMouse

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    Boiling probably won't make much of a difference on straight-grained wood. Maybe even less on straight-grained oak, where the rays are natural planes of weakness. Principle behind it, and there is some science here, not religion, is that the lignin will creep at temperature, allowing the fibers to adjust and take out some strain while they're still plastic. You can do the same thing in your microwave, of course, if you have the capacity and inclination. Folks have been steaming and bending wood for as long as we know. Riving and steaming will make straight wood out of curved, so spears and arrows were likely the first products.

    Boiling will take out soluble color, steaming will sometimes redistribute it unevenly, leaving dark areas against a bleached background, so it's not a completely free lunch.

    Alcohol is as effective as chanting. Religion, not science. Fortunately, less the alcohol part, after the soak proponents do what turners have been doing since they began turning green wood. Little wonder the "method" succeeds. I, and a few others, have run tests of soak versus non, and there is no difference in shrinkage or in time to EMC of pieces off the same log. Nor, according to the rules of chemistry, should there be.

    The dish detergent folks, and that's hand wash, not dishwasher stuff, soak their green in dilute detergent versus ethanol, then do the same air dry we all do with or without soak. The alcohol in this process is glycerol, added to keep the hands from pruning up, but in contrast to the ethanol method, the alcohol has a higher boiling point, so it stays in the wood longer than water. Good substitute for stearated paper when sanding, and with the higher boiling point, seems control heat checks if you press too hard. This is in accordance with the rules of chemistry as well.
     
  9. Bill Pottorf

    Bill Pottorf

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    Hugh, I do boil bowl and vase blanks turned to the 10% of diameter thickness. I started doing this from a good turning friend who learned it from Steve Russell. I do not mess much with oak however. Mostly Mesquite, Pecan, Sycamore, Pear and the local green woods here in south Texas. I have not been too successful with oak other than white oak turned natural edge to proper thickness and dried in the micro wave.

    The procedure is well described by Steve. I boil for the hour per inch of rough turned thickness on a slow boil - not rolling as you describe. Remove the turnings from the boiling water imediately with tongs. Place them on the table open to the air. You can watch the steam leave the wood and dry before your eyes to a visual dry surface. This is really not totally dry - but what is happening is the pores have been opened up and this allows the interstitial water to evaporate before your eyes. The pores will close again after the turnings cool down. Place them on a board on the shop floor upside down until they feel dry to the touch. I generally cover the end grain with sealer and bag them in brown sacks to dry. It doe's speed up drying time. I generally wait for at least 6 months to allow the movement to occure and then true up and finish the turnings.

    Hope this helps out but Steve's article is a good procedure to follow.

    Bill
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2008
  10. jimbob91577

    jimbob91577

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    Ok wait...

    We've had this discussion several times over the last few years and with regards to the Boiling and DNA methods there is typically 3 weeks to 6+ months of "drying" time after said practice -- I'm okay with that, that seems to be consistent among the folks who have used this practice.

    * I know that drying and stabilization are two different things, but if folks are using the 3 week - 6+ month "drying" time to ensure that their projects don't check or split, then I imagine that in this case drying and stabilizing are in effect the same thing.

    But for the folks in the LDD pew, the practice as described here specifically states: "From then on, I would take primarily green wood and rough turn in one day, soak overnight, and finish the next day." Now I know that different wood species will behave differently - I get that. But aside from Mr Thorvaldson and Mr Kent, the only other reference I have seen regarding LDD was from Ernie Conover. My question is for those in the forum who have used LDD - should one expect the results described in the Kent and Thorvaldson articles, or would one expect 3 week - 6+ month stabilization times? And by "Finishing" the next day, does that include adding a finish like oil, shellac, lacquer, etc? Also, what if someone wants to cut turning squares out of rough logs, has anyone used the LDD practice on turning blanks and at what result?

    Further, others have described similar products such as Cedarcide's Turners Choice and Cedar Shield (David Sommers in particular). I know David has used it and has said that others in Hawaii have used it too. Has anyone else used it and what results have been achieved by said product(s) and with what wood species have these products been used? Should one expect 3 weeks or 6+ months of stabilization time with said products? Also what about turning squares, and how does wood treated with the Cedarcide product take a finish?

    Basically, if you subscribe to the LDD or Cedarcide pew, sell me on why those methods are better than say DNA, Microwaving, or Boiling - and please describe your process. Having not tried any of the methods in question, I'm leery about spending money and making a mess of my shop on "Hokey Religions" that may or may not have any increased benefit than say bowl blanks in paper bags.
     
  11. Nick Stagg

    Nick Stagg

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    Methylated Spirit

    Bob,

    In your language it would be methylated spirits.

    Nick
     
  12. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    I am of the turn thin and let them warp persuasion. I use the LDD soak. I tried air drying, then the DNA, and have settled on the LDD. The primary reason is that the dried pieces are a lot easier to sand out, the DNA soaked ones are harder to sand out, and the air dried pieces sand out normally. I did a test with 3 sets of bowls, each dried by the three methods, and there was no measurable difference in drying time (1/4 inch thick took 10 days), color fastness, movement, or drying without cracks. I did not wrap them. This supported what I had observed by drying several hundred bowls in the DNA, and air, as well as several thousand bowls in the LDD. I do wait for the bowls to dry before sanding. The LDD hasn't shown any problems in applying walnut oil, or Deftoil.

    My latest experiment has been with wrapping the bowls like the DNA followers do, and leaving the inside of the bowl open. Well, with my variation. I wrap the outside with a couple layers of news paper, then wrap the rim with the plastic film (6 inch) that is used to wrap packages on pallets. I wrapped some in paper, some in totally plastic (there was no condensation under the plastic), and some with just the rim wrapped. The success rate was astounding. I had a number of Madrone bowls that were turned to 3/8 inch thick, and some with knots in them. This is considered suicidal with Madrone. Some of the knots did crack but not the wood around them, and one bowl had a couple of small checks in it, but that was it for maybe 50 bowls. I did it with some Big Leaf Maple, and some cherry, and got the same results. This leads me to think that the wrapping is the key, not the soak. After another thousand or so bowls, I will know better.

    The theory behind the wrapping is that the inside of the bowl dries quicker than the outside. This causes the inside to shrink towards the center, and it pulls the outside into it, kind of drying the bowl in a compression mode.

    I haven't tried this same experiment on thick turned bowls as I don't turn them that way. There could be some variation in drying times, but I don't intend to experiment that way. I like my bowls warped.

    I never tried the boiling method because it tends to muddle the colors together. There is some color that leaches out into the DNA and LDD solutions, but it doesn't seem to color the other woods too much until you have soaked a number of black walnut bowls in it. Then it can.

    The Soap method is a bit messy. At least 24 hours soak, then I drip off most of the soap, then into the kitchen to rinse off the excess (just rinse, not wash out all the bubbles). Then wrap and dry. It really makes a difference in sanding, especially woods that like to glaze over, and burn easily like cherry, and big leaf Maple. It makes a harder wood like Madrone sand out easier as well. It may also help your sanding discs last longer as well, but not some thing I have tried to test.

    robo hippy
     
  13. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

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    oak

    if you have a lot of wood you may want to try several mehtods , one is cutting the wood to whatever blank size and letting some of them dry in a cardboard barrel with top secured, it is not 100% and the bowls will tend to warp a year later when turned thin but if the blank has not cracked the piece most likely will not crack
     
  14. Barbara Gill

    Barbara Gill

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    Boiling Warning

    I have skimmed through the posts and didn't see a warning about the possible danger associated with boiling. Be sure the pot is large enough to have expansion room. A friend of mine made the mistake of not thinking about this. The bowl became the same size as the pot diameter pressurizing the pot. Fortunately when it blew he was not killed, only burned. The burns while serious were not life threatening. He was lucky.
     
  15. Bill Pottorf

    Bill Pottorf

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    Barbara, this is the first I have heard of this and it is scarey to say the least. I use a 55 gallon drum cut to 2/3 of its vertical capacity and use the lid loosly resting on the top when boiling. Steam vents from the loose fit easily. I have not had any piece in the drum which would expand to wedge into the internal diameter of the drum. Use a turkey frier burner on a 3 legged stand to support the drum. The only problem comes when removing the top to retrieve any items since the steam instantly fogs up your glasses. Need tongs to remove the pieces safely.

    Bill
     
  16. Jack Savona

    Jack Savona

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    Stay cool

    It seems to me that I've heard boiling advocates recommend letting the bowls cool in the pot before removing them. Anyone else hear that?
     
  17. n7bsn

    n7bsn

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    Depending on specie... I don't think I can recall anyone that advocates this saying every wood.

    Madrone is one that I can recall being recommended for cooling in water
     
  18. Hugh

    Hugh

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    I boiled about 9 bowls that had been roughed out the other day. I let them dry a bit and then sealed them with a coat of Anchor Seal. I am not worried about how long it takes to dry - just that they dry without cracks.

    Madrone bowls - I start them in cool water. then bring up to boiling and then let them cool at least over night before I remove them. I did an experiment one time and started a bowl in cool water - boiled for 3-4 hours and then removed from the boiling water and placed in cool water. Left it over night and took it out of the water the same time I took out the rest of the boiled load. The one that I took out and placed in cool water cracked to beat the band. This was a straight grained piece. The ones I let cool in the hot water over night came out OK.

    Barbara - I use a big barrel (stainless steel) and I never plan on turning a bowl that diameter and boil it. I have turned some 16 - 18 inch bowls and they are huge - not sure they would sell.

    I agree that the wood color in oak will even out to a brown throughout. But, I am not sure that will go into the wood the thickness of the wood. I will find out when I return the bowls after they dry.

    My goal here is to just end up with a usable bowl and not one that is cracked. I do not want to go to all the work of harvesting the wood and then roughing it out and then having it crack.

    I turned an open bowl to about 5/16" thickness - Valley Oak. I wet sanded to 150 grit and then wrapped in a towel and then a plastic bag. I changed the towel for a couple of days and everything looked fine. Then on the 4th day there were three cracks that appeared about 1 inch long along one edge. Drives me crazy.

    Thanks for all the advice.
    Hugh
     
  19. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    Dale Larson of Portland boils a lot of Madrone, and he says to let it cool in the water. I did hear about the bowl getting stuck in the pot and an explosion. Could have been the same one mentioned here.

    robo hippy
     
  20. pyrocasto

    pyrocasto

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    I boil, take them out immediately, and either stick them in a paper bag or cardboard box. I have seen some serious warpage doing apple this way, and have yet to have one crack.
     

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