Seasoned logs

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Fadi Zeidan, Sep 22, 2017.

  1. Fadi Zeidan

    Fadi Zeidan

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    hey all,

    Recently I’ve been collecting green logs and sealing the ends for later use. Should I cut them into blanks right away and seal them, or keeping them as logs is fine? Mostly mesquite.

    I also got few calls about mesquite trees and one ash tree that were cut down a year ago and still full length. Are these good to use or should I avoid them?
     
  2. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

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    You normally want to cut the logs in half down the center to expose the grain and allow
    the 1/2 log to slowly dry and relieve the internal stress of the log while drying. If you leave
    the log to dry whole it will split and crack from internal stresses in the log form.
    Depending on the items you want to turn you can process the log into bowl blanks, spindle blanks, and various sized blanks depending on the desired size you need and the size of log you have.
    Smaller pieces can be used for pen blanks and shaving brush blanks etc.
    When harvesting a tree that has been cut for a while you need to cut off the end grain that has cracks and checking until you get to "clean" wood that has not started to dry. You also need to seal any end grain as quickly as possible after cutting to size to prevent cracking and checking from starting.
    Processing wood into larger billets provides for larger items to be turned but will also take longer for these billets to dry all of the way. A larger billet can always be cut into smaller pieces, however smaller pieces will dry quickly and provide usable billets to turn for smaller projects within a year or two.
    There is a trade off with processing your logs into various sized billets, you need to look at each piece
    and determine how to harvest the wood and provide billets with interesting grain for the finished piece.
    If you plan on making segmenting bowls you might want to slab some of the logs. The tools you have available will also determine the easiest method for processing your logs. There are a number of videos on YouTube that detail processing wood into billets from logs and the methods used.
     
  3. Fadi Zeidan

    Fadi Zeidan

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    Thanks Mike, that makes sense. I see people with logs in their stash and they cut it to size/blank when they want to turn, but I don’t know how long they had these logs.

    I’ve been avoiding trees that were cut a year for fear that they may not be good for turning, I don’t have access to them to cut into them.
     
  4. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    For fresh green logs, I keep them whole and on and under heavy duty tarps. I lost too many blanks if I slabbed it all up first, and I don't lose as much to end checking. Most of what I work is Madrone which is really crack prone. It depends on your local weather though. I have heard of logs being stored outside in Colorado for several years with no problems.

    Only real problem with trees down for a year or so is big infestation. I have found those logs to be more of a cut it up and turn it ASAP. Once cut into log sections, they really like to split.

    robo hippy
     
  5. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

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    The other consideration is how long are the "logs"?
    When trees are cut down they usually cut the logs into manageable sized pieces
    that they can handle. The length is usually about the same as the diameter for larger diameter logs.
    Smaller diameter logs can be longer and easily moved with equipment used for "logging".
    It helps to have a truck or trailer set up to handle the long logs or the short large diameter logs.
    Freshly cut logs are very heavy and trying to man handle the bigger logs can quickly cause
    back injuries that will come back to haunt you for the remainder of your life. Another common
    injury with this type of work is rotator cuff injuries. A cable winch or jib crane mounted on the trailer
    or truck bed makes quick work of loading these heavy loads. This small investment will pay for itself
    quickly when you consider the cost of seeing a doctor for back or shoulder problems.
    As Robo mentioned the long logs have a longer "shelf" life as the moisture takes longer to exit the
    ends of the long log compared to shorter pieces that will dry quickly. The other consideration is the
    environment of the area you reside in. The lower the humidity in your area will determine how long
    you have before you should finish processing your logs. A dry desert environment will quickly draw the moisture from a freshly cut tree, whereas a high humidity environment will slow the drying process. Sealing the end grain will increase the amount of usable wood from your logs either way. Once you
    cut the logs into billets you want to seal the end grain as quickly as possible, the same day if possible.
    Don't cut anymore wood then you can process from start to finish in one day, if you let it sit for a few days
    you increase the risk of cracking and checking.
     
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  6. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    I have no experience with mesquite.

    Logs shrink around the growth rings more than they shrink across them so radial splits are inevitable if the pith is left in a log larger than about 4" i diameter. I have dried many holly limbs for ornament balls in the 3-4" range. Almost every 6" limb develops a radial split.

    Whole logs 8-20+ feet. It will take 6 month to years for radial cracks to happen.
    If you can move, store, and the easily cut blanks from them keeping whole logs works pretty well for 4-6 months. except that the sapwood will discolor within a week or so. When you want blank cut off and discard about 4" off the end of the log because it will be checked.


    1/2 logs short lengths - the 1/2 rings can shrink and leave a peak in the center of the once flat cut side.
    I can't deal with whole logs so I bring home 1/2 logs about 20"-30" long semi-planned for hollow forms or bowls.
    I anchor seal the ends. If I want the the nice sap wood I try to turn them within a week or cut a blank and pop it in the freezer inside enough plastic bags to keep,it from freeze drying.

    Usually the 1/2 logs with anchor seal will get end checking less than 2" on each end.
    I usually plan on one or two blanks from each 1/12 log. I try o cut blanks I can turn within a day or two close to size and put them in plastic bags

    Sapwood will stay nice a little longer if you take off the bark. too much trouble on most woods. Black walnut is usually easy.

    The great thing about fresh wood is that the phone will ring again....
     
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  7. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I have lots of experience with mesquite and my opinion is that you ought to turn it while it is green. You can turn it to completion with the possibility of a very tiny bit of warping or rough turn using a 5% factor rather than the usual 10%. It will dry very fast ... or at least it does here.

    If you wait until it is dry, it will be rather hard and abrasive on your tools compared to most native hardwoods. The main thing that I don't like about turning dry mesquite is the dust. If you don't use adequate respiratory protection it can cause headaches, swollen sinuses, sneezing, and coughing ... in my experience when I was clueless about dust masks and powered respirators. I used a Dust-Bee-Gone which is comparable to not using anything. At the very least I would recommend using a N100 dust mask.

    Expect preexisting cracks to be the norm with mesquite... ring shake is the most common type. Bark inclusions are also common. Sometimes what appears to be one solid piece of wood is actually a bunch of interlocking pieces looking for the opportunity to unlock ... and you're holding the key. I listen carefully for changes in sound and use lots of epoxy, Inlace, and CA.

    Another thing about letting whole logs of mesquite dry is there are borers just under the bark. As the wood dries they will go deeper into the wood.
     
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  8. Fadi Zeidan

    Fadi Zeidan

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    That is great info Bill thanks so much, I was about to get a truck load of Mesquite to use for a while but now I’m not so sure I should get it. I have few pieces that would last me couple of months. I will split them and seal them, if they become too difficult to turn, I’ll look for fresh ones.

    Thanks for the tip on the mask, I don’t usually wear one while turning, only while sanding. I will wear it with these.
     
  9. Fadi Zeidan

    Fadi Zeidan

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    Thanks Al,

    I will try to turn them into blanks this weekend, the rest I will split in half and seal them. I can see some cracking already so I need to move quick.
     
  10. Fadi Zeidan

    Fadi Zeidan

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    Thanks Robo,

    I was watching how you prep the blanks and that is where I saw that you stored the logs whole.
     
  11. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval

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    Bill, I had a 100% blockage of my sinus last year. Almost had surgery. Doing better now... I wear a Dust Bee Gone all the time now. Is that a false feeling of security?? You got me all worried now..
     
  12. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

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    Emiliano....Bill is correct...you have to protect yourself....Trend Airsheild is one....their are others....a local longtime woodworker had a shop design that he opened a window and had a fan blowing across him to turning on lathe and out the window. Try to find sometime to 0.1 micron....trend is 0.3 but much better than mask.....expect $$$$$$
     
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  13. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I used one for quite a while before it occurred to me that I was having all sorts of respiratory problems and when I blew my nose I would blow out half a mesquite log. Meanwhile there was hardly any dust on the DBG mask. They used to make all sorts of claims including filtering to five microns, but I noticed that they no longer make any claims, but instead have testimonials. All the harmful dust is smaller than five microns. I finally connected the dots and started using real dust protection. I used N100 masks with an exhalation valve, but they sometimes fogged my glasses and face shield. I finally bit the bullet in 2006 and bought the 3M Airstream powered respirator. I'm very glad that I did. It is comfortable to wear although a bit noisy since the blower motor is in the helmet. Earmuffs or plugs do a good job of suppressing the noise, but the noise doesn't bother me so I don't use them.
     
  14. Pete Blair

    Pete Blair

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    Rough turn when green is my rule of thumb. Often as I am doing this I just keep going and turn to finish while free which most of you know is the most fun of all. Waiting for wood to dry and then turning is no where near the fun of turning green.
     
  15. Fadi Zeidan

    Fadi Zeidan

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    My challenge is that I do it for fun, and limited to Saturday mornings so I usually do 1 to 3 turnings a month if weather permits since I turn outdoors. I wanted to get logs so that I can do deeper hollow forms, blanks for sale tend to be for shallow bowls 2-5” thick. I have enough now to keep me busy for couple of months, I will stop looking for wood until I finish what I have that way they won’t dry.
     
  16. john lucas

    john lucas

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    For smaller bowls say 10" or under what I do is cut the wood and then seal all the end grain by dipping it in molten wax. I use canning wax and then heat it in an old electric skillet. I set the temperature just hot enough to melt the wax. Don't get it anywhere near a flame, the flashpoint is 450 degrees f. or somewhere near there. It melts at around 180 so that's plenty save. I have found that I can roll larger blanks in the wax. Ones that fit in my skillet which is about 8 or 10" I just set them in and pull them back out. This is much faster than painting end grain sealer and seems to work really well for storing bowl blanks. I tend to get wood all at once and since I don't turn many bowls it sits and goes bad if I don't harvest it immediately and this has been the fastest way.
     
  17. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

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    A "Fry Daddy" oil cooker has an adjustable thermostat and the lid seals the wax until the next time
    you need to seal wood. The hot melted wax does a really good job in sealing end grain of wood.
     
  18. Fadi Zeidan

    Fadi Zeidan

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    So anchorseal 2 is not enough?
     
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  19. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

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    Anchorseal works fine, many of the wood billet suppliers use wax as a sealer.
    Wax is a fairly inert product with no concerns of chemicals etc.
    If I run short I can go to any hardware store and pick up a few pounds of canning wax.
     
  20. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Anchorseal (either original or 2) is just fine. It is my preferred method of sealing end grain. My turning club buys it in 55 gallon drums and then sells it to members for about $10 per gallon. It's a lot better than the typical retail price. Anchorseal creates a semi permeable barrier to moisture leaving the log so that it doesn't dry too fast and at the same time doesn't completely block moisture from evaporating. My concern about using paraffin canning wax is that it might completely seal the log and lead to mold ruining the wood. I've had that happen with very wet soft maple that was sealed too well.
     
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