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Labeling Logs?

Joined
Jan 3, 2021
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Hello fellow turners-As I'm getting started with bowl-turning, I'm in great shape for blanks, as my youngest son works for my next-door neighbor, a local arborist who has a real eye for beautiful wood. I asked them to bring home any interesting wood they can (crotches, burls, nicely-figured pieces, etc.), and am rapidly accumulating a nice stockpile of maple, black walnut (my favorite!) and other local hardwoods for potential future bowls. I AnchorSeal the ends of the various-sized logs and have them on pallets in the crawl-space of my house. They are in between the door (which I usually keep propped open to keep moisture levels down anyway), and two vents, so air-flow is good, and there's a heavy duty plastic vapor barrier on the ground, so no ground moisture to worry about.

My problem is labeling them; I think species and month/year is probably good enough. I've tried various tapes and markers, but nothing really seems to stick to wet wood and bark, and you can't sharpie over AnchorSeal.

What do you guys do? I'm thinking of getting some type of luggage tag or plastic sleeve that I can insert a label in and staple to the piece, but I don't know. Any ideas are appreciated.

(And yes, obviously I have to turn both of them something nice with the wood they've donated. I already have some green-turned bowls from their gifted wood that might make a nice thank you).
 
Joined
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In past years when I was harvesting and processing trees and logs, I used different colored latex paint to seal the end grain after cutting into pieces. I would visit the big box store and purchase the miss-colored cans of latex paint at a discount when I needed a new color. You could add some cheap food coloring to your wood sealer when you seal the end grain of the logs you intend to keep. Just decide on your colors you intend to use for different species of tree.
 
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Baltimore, MD
I assume when you say logs, that they’ve still got the bark in them. Pretty soon you’ll be able to identify your logs by the bark and color of the wood, even through the anchor seal. In the meantime, why not just staple an index card to the end of the log with the info you want? When I cut bowl blanks, or rough turn bowls, I generally use a sharpie to label the bottom of the tenon with the species and date. For example they might say South Rd. Ash 2/21 which differentiates them from Jones Ash. That way if I’m going to make someone a bowl from their tree, I’ve got reasonable assurance that in four or six months I’ll be able to tell which wood came from where.
 

hockenbery

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I use wood crayons yellow or Orange to Mark cut lines wood for the chainsaw.
Draw pictures of bowls & hf for students.
The lines stay for a long time. So written word should show well

Most places that sell chainsaw stuff will have them.
They are about 1/2” thick and 5” long until they break into two usable pieces.
 
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After I seal the blank, I write info (species, weight, date) on a 3x5 index card and staple to the end grain. When I do weight/drying checks, I jot new info on the card with a fine tip Sharpie.
 
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Joined
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Sharpie first, anchorseal second. When the anchoseal dries, the sharpie shows through.

Do rip the logs in half length wise to avoid losing all that nice wood to cracks.
 
Joined
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Thanks for all the great tips, fellas! And Dean, I live in the humid Southeast. Will logs split faster if I don't saw them in half (and cut out the pith as Dave says)?

If I'm reading you guys correctly, should I then go ahead and split these round logs in half with the pith cut out instead of leaving them in the round, possibly for years before I get to them all? And if I do that, should I anchorseal the side-grain faces too if they're going to sit for awhile?

My turning time currently is limited, as I head a very large English department of a huge suburban high school-will probably do a good bit more this summer.

And Lou, I'm rapidly getting better at wood id by necessity. All my black walnut in particular is very distinctive (even its funky, almost barbecue like smell!).
 

Roger Wiegand

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Your logs will stand a much better chance of being useable when you want them if you at least split them through the pith, cutting it out entirely is even better. If you don't they will crack willy-nilly, typically in the worst possible places.
 

hockenbery

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I'm reading you guys correctly, should I then go ahead and split these round logs in half with the pith cut out

If your logs are 8-10 feet long you can leave them as logs. When you want a blank cut 4” off the end and discard. Then cut your blanks for turning.

l cut my log sections in 2-3 foot sections and rip them through the pith. Coat the ends stack in the shade.
To cut blanks I cut off 2” which will have end checks and discard. Then cut 2 or 3 blanks for turning.

when ripping log sections I go for getting one great half rather than 2 mediocre halves.
For traditional bowls I want balance grain around the pith circular is always a good choice.
Natural edge bowls and Hollow forms I often choose interesting bark contours.

you might be interested in a working with green wood thread in the tips and techniques.
It includes slides and videos from a demo I do. PowerPoint over view, video rough turning a bowl for drying, and video of mounting and returning a dried bowl.
https://www.aawforum.org/community/index.php?threads/working-with-green-wood.11626/

This is the power point slide showing how ripping through the pith reduces the likelihood of radial checks.
Each growth ring shrinks more ( tangential shrinkage) than the ring inside it - cutting through the pith let’s the rings shrink without splitting.
8C5ECD1A-CF43-4BA2-92A0-9A5674DF7F68.png
 

hockenbery

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turning time currently is limited, as I head a very large English department of a huge suburban high school-will probably do a good bit more this summer.

wood will have a shelf life.
The gorgeous white sapwood in many species will begin turning to dull looking greys within a few weeks.
In a few months you might get nice spalting
In a few months more the wood might begin to rot

how fast or if spalting or rot occur depends on many factors, health of the tree when cut, species, insects, humidity, temperature....
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 3, 2021
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Thanks, all-All this info. is enormously helpful. I guess I need to crank up the chainsaw. Spring Break's coming soon, so that will give me some time to deal with all this wood.
 
Joined
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Here in the arid west, I can't get away with leaving logs whole, so I always split. I have seen one fellow in Colorado successfully leave his wood in log form for an extended period. But those were 3-4 feet in diameter and 10-16 feet long, and he didn't mind losing 4" when he'd whack off a couple blanks to core. Good turning wood is not abundant where I live and I can't afford to waste 4" from the end of a log. (Though judging by over 100 dry-and-ready-to-finish bowl blanks and dozens and dozens of finally dry spindle blanks taking over my garage and home, maybe I have more abundance than I realize ;)) The guys who live in bug and riff-raff infested parts of the country can give you better advice.
 
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