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Thread: Drying maple burl

  1. #1

    Drying maple burl

    I recently acquired some really nice fresh cut maple burl. What do I need to do to make sure the blocks dry properly? Do I need to seal them with wax?

    Thanks,
    Mikey
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  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    How big are the burl pieces?

    One of the challenges with drying is that, over time, the dryer outer portions of the wood are going to move at different rates than the damper inner sections...these different rates of movement can lead to cracking or checking as the wood essentially pulls itself apart from the movement. To avoid this, many like to break things into smaller size pieces. It's a few step process. From raw fresh log, you cut the burl into slabs (You mentioned "blocks" so not sure if that's already been done?). Next, wax and seal any cut surfaces with a product like anchor seal or other wax. Let the pieces sit in a cool, dark place to dry out. This can take at least a year or two depending on the wood and the sizes you portioned it out to. After that initial drying, you'd then cut them down into blocks and seal them again. After that, it's back to waiting....potentially another year. Some like to try and accelerate the drying process, especially once down to blocks, by packing the pieces in cardboard boxes of dry wood shavings. This is an old wood turners trick to dry out green turned bowls and things. The shavings absorb and draw moisture which speeds up the drying...the catch with blocks is, if they draw out too much moisture too fast, you will risk checking again.

    another trick I've heard but not tried to quasi-stabilize and speed up drying (that others might weight in on?), is to soak the blocks for a day in a mix of water and dish soap like dawn (ratios vary from 1:1 to 1:5) before proceeding with your drying routine Counter intuitive as it is to wet something you want to dry, the process seems to work well for woodturners and could cut your drying time by a huge amount. The technique was invented in Hawaii....details from the guy who came up with and why it works/what his results are can be found here: http://www.ronkent.com/techniques.php

  4. #4
    Das HandleMeister apicius9's Avatar
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    Not sure if the ones I saw were by Ron Kent, but these translucent bowls of spalted Norfolk pine have to be one of the most beautiful things you can make out of wood.

    Stefan

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by CPD View Post
    How big are the burl pieces?

    One of the challenges with drying is that, over time, the dryer outer portions of the wood are going to move at different rates than the damper inner sections...these different rates of movement can lead to cracking or checking as the wood essentially pulls itself apart from the movement. To avoid this, many like to break things into smaller size pieces. It's a few step process. From raw fresh log, you cut the burl into slabs (You mentioned "blocks" so not sure if that's already been done?). Next, wax and seal any cut surfaces with a product like anchor seal or other wax. Let the pieces sit in a cool, dark place to dry out. This can take at least a year or two depending on the wood and the sizes you portioned it out to. After that initial drying, you'd then cut them down into blocks and seal them again. After that, it's back to waiting....potentially another year. Some like to try and accelerate the drying process, especially once down to blocks, by packing the pieces in cardboard boxes of dry wood shavings. This is an old wood turners trick to dry out green turned bowls and things. The shavings absorb and draw moisture which speeds up the drying...the catch with blocks is, if they draw out too much moisture too fast, you will risk checking again.

    another trick I've heard but not tried to quasi-stabilize and speed up drying (that others might weight in on?), is to soak the blocks for a day in a mix of water and dish soap like dawn (ratios vary from 1:1 to 1:5) before proceeding with your drying routine Counter intuitive as it is to wet something you want to dry, the process seems to work well for woodturners and could cut your drying time by a huge amount. The technique was invented in Hawaii....details from the guy who came up with and why it works/what his results are can be found here: http://www.ronkent.com/techniques.php
    It's currently a ~10"x6"x2.5" block. My intent was to go ahead and cut it down into 1.5"x1.5"x6" blanks to speed up the drying. I sounds like you recommend keeping the block intact for awhile. is that right?

    Mahalo,
    Mikey
    Available handles- http://s64.photobucket.com/user/mkri...able%20handles

    Rule #1- Don't sweat the small s%&t, rule #2- It's ALL small s%&t
    Mikey

  6. #6
    Weird Wood Pusher Burl Source's Avatar
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    Maple burl is one of the easiest woods to dry.
    Cut your blocks slightly bigger than you need because it might move a bit when drying. Try to orient the blocks to follow how the burl grew on the tree and cut like lumber. Do not crosscut if possible because that weakens the wood.
    Put them on a shelf out of direct sunlight.
    Flip them over weekly. You have high humidity so less chance of cracking.
    Will probably take about a year.

    I cut and dry Maple burl weekly. I have only done about a gazillion blocks so I am still learning.
    If your piece has red heart things change a bit.
    Maybe you could post a photo.
    Mark Farley / It's a Burl
    Phone 541-592-5071, Email burlsource@gmail.com
    Visit our web store

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Burl Source View Post
    Maple burl is one of the easiest woods to dry.
    Cut your blocks slightly bigger than you need because it might move a bit when drying. Try to orient the blocks to follow how the burl grew on the tree and cut like lumber. Do not crosscut if possible because that weakens the wood.
    Put them on a shelf out of direct sunlight.
    Flip them over weekly. You have high humidity so less chance of cracking.
    Will probably take about a year.

    I cut and dry Maple burl weekly. I have only done about a gazillion blocks so I am still learning.
    If your piece has red heart things change a bit.
    Maybe you could post a photo.
    Mark, here's a couple of photo links. I'm not sure if you would consider this red heart or not.

    http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/OTQyWDE2MDA=/z/jyYAAOxyRhBSwbr2/$_57.JPG

    http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/OTYzWDE2MDA=/z/5aUAAOxyVLNSwbr-/$_57.JPG

    Thanks,
    Mikey
    Available handles- http://s64.photobucket.com/user/mkri...able%20handles

    Rule #1- Don't sweat the small s%&t, rule #2- It's ALL small s%&t
    Mikey

  8. #8
    Not sure those links are going to work right, lets try this:

    Name:  $_57.jpg
Views: 189
Size:  43.1 KB

    Name:  $_57.jpg
Views: 182
Size:  38.0 KB

    That's better
    Available handles- http://s64.photobucket.com/user/mkri...able%20handles

    Rule #1- Don't sweat the small s%&t, rule #2- It's ALL small s%&t
    Mikey

  9. #9
    Weird Wood Pusher Burl Source's Avatar
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    This is going to be easy to dry.
    Hard to tell the grain orientation but it looks like you should cut lengthwise strips.
    You will probably get some separations around the bark pockets.
    Since the wood is so spalted you will need to get it stabilized after it is dry.
    Mark Farley / It's a Burl
    Phone 541-592-5071, Email burlsource@gmail.com
    Visit our web store

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Burl Source View Post
    This is going to be easy to dry.
    Hard to tell the grain orientation but it looks like you should cut lengthwise strips.
    You will probably get some separations around the bark pockets.
    Since the wood is so spalted you will need to get it stabilized after it is dry.
    Sense I'm actually on the dry side of Hawaii, should I wax coat it? (I'd rather not if it's not really necessary).

    Thanks,
    Mikey
    Available handles- http://s64.photobucket.com/user/mkri...able%20handles

    Rule #1- Don't sweat the small s%&t, rule #2- It's ALL small s%&t
    Mikey

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