Drying Wood

D R Y I N G   W O O D



          No doubt most Woodturners are familiar with the technique of rough turning a wet bowl blank to about 1” thickness and leaving it to dry out for about six weeks or so and then finish turn it.

          Seasoning wood in the round to minimise splitting or warping when turned, can be done by boiling up paraffin wax granules and coating the ends of the wood to about 1” depth, so that it dries out evenly for the year or two it takes (at 9 months to the inch).  With a felt-tip pen I put the month and year on the end before I dip it, so I know when it is about ready for use. 

          I keep the sealed logs in old plastic crates stacked in a 6' x 4' shed with window blocked off.  It seems to work well enough for me.  Of course, there is the odd failure, but usually all comes out well.  I find 14 per cent moisture content is about the level to aim for. I have been successful with seasoning Yew up to 3” and Flowering Cherry up to 5”/6” diameter.  A moisture meter is very handy.

           Laburnum can be difficult to dry in a reasonable time, so I find that cutting the log into blanks suitable for what I propose to turn shortens the drying period.

          There are videos available illustrating the turning of wet bowl blanks into the finished article, in which the bowl thickness ends up about 1/8” thick.  It then warps somewhat.  The advantage of turning wet wood is the absence of dust.

          Another method is the use of polyethyleneglycol (PEG).  The wet wood blank is soaked in a solution of PEG at a constant temperature until all the moisture in the wood is replaced.  Wood so treated turns well: the tools being lubricated by the PEG.

Mike Wickham