Working with natural wood

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by ForeverLearning, Mar 13, 2019.

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  1. Mar 13, 2019 #1

    ForeverLearning

    ForeverLearning

    ForeverLearning

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    Hi everyone,

    So I just got some Olivewood for my 2nd/3rd knife.

    It is natural and, when drilling there is a large amount of oil releasing from the wood. Two questions to that:

    1. How should I treat this? Should I dry the wood in the microwave or oven
    2. When sanding the handle shall I treat it with water between grits?

    Any help is much appreciated.
     
  2. Mar 13, 2019 #2

    aaamax

    aaamax

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    the main question is probably how long ago were these pieces harvested? Olive is pretty damn stable imo if time has had its way and worked its magic.
     
  3. Mar 13, 2019 #3
    Drill more slowly - do not let the wood to get hot. Many oily woods (even when dried for a long time) will release oils when heated up (drilling, grinding, etc)
     
  4. Mar 13, 2019 #4

    milkbaby

    milkbaby

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    The main thing is that wood should be fairly dry and equilibrated with the local humidity. If it is green, basically newly cut, then don't use it as it will continue to experience movement as it keeps drying and may crack. I think kiln dried woods can help a bit with movement as the kiln drying affects the wood a bit differently than drying at normal temperatures.

    Oven drying and microwaving is usually done when people are stabilizing wood with resin and/or casting wood with resin. The water keeps the resin from curing properly and can interact negatively with it. If you have a green piece of wood, then perhaps you could dry it more in the oven or microwave but you risk cracking it.

    The key to drying green wood is drying it slowly, and even then it will still often crack. Think of wood as a bundle of straws with the ends being the end grain. Water evaporates much quicker from the endgrain than from the other sides, and this difference can cause an imbalance in the directions of shrinkage which causes stress and cracks to develop.
     
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  5. Mar 13, 2019 #5

    TB_London

    TB_London

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    Olive is notorious for taking an age to season and is often sold wet. I’d keep your pieces 20% oversize then keep them somewhere warm to dry before final shaping
     
  6. Mar 13, 2019 #6

    ForeverLearning

    ForeverLearning

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    @aaamax - I have no idea of knowing when the wood was harvested

    @Matus I will definitely go for that, I went 3-6-9-12 (fresh brad point for the 12mm) drills, I will definitely go slower and clear the drill bit more often.

    @milkbaby - by green do you just mean wood with moisture/which is wet? (I know green is used in casting for that). I will try and dry it at a low temp in the oven maybe.

    @TB_London I was not aware of this problem. I will oversize. What temperatures are we talking? 20 degrees celsius? Higher?

    Thanks for the responses
     
  7. Mar 13, 2019 #7

    milkbaby

    milkbaby

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    You can make a little drying cabinet by using an incandescent light bulb in a wooden cabinet and storing the wood in there. There should be directions and pictures of how to do it online somewhere. I never do it myself but try to follow the advice from Daniel O'Malley who does handles for Epicurean Edge. He leaves the wood to sit and equilibrate for years. He says he waits 5 years, I try to wait at least 2 years, and that's 2 years on known stabilized or kiln dried woods. Woods that I have no idea on I just leave them and one day I'll get to them. :)

    The only way to tell if a piece of wood is dried as much as it's going to is to weigh it, leave it for a few months, then weigh it again, just keep waiting until the weight stabilizes.

    See Daniel's post here: Rehandle Jobs Gallery - PIC HEAVY
     
  8. Mar 13, 2019 #8

    RonB

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    Painting the ends of your wood can help prevent checking, (cracking from the ends), while it dries.
     
  9. Mar 14, 2019 #9

    Tim Rowland

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    1. get yourself a moisture meter and always check to be between 6-9%
    2. If you don't know the moisture content or the age and drying method used for the wood don't use it until you have properly dried it yourself. I am not a fan of microwave/oven drying myself but it can work to a reasonable success when done with patience.
    3. Take your time, it's not a race. Slow down your drill speed and only drill a few mm at a time to make sure you are clearing any stuck wood up the flutes.
    4. Use a drill bit designed for end grain like pen makers bits. They don't wonder as much and have a different style flute for excavation.

    If you look at the filet knife I posted last week it has olive wood that was kiln dried to a moisture content of 8% and had come to the relative humidity of my shop after sitting on my wood rack for about 6 months.
     
  10. Mar 15, 2019 #10

    ForeverLearning

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    @Tim Rowland Perfect, thanks. I currently have it drying in a well ventilated workshop at Uni. It is kept at a temperature of 20 degrees celcius 24/7 so hopefully that is a good drying area.

    Thanks for the suggestions.
     
  11. Apr 22, 2019 #11

    JoBone

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    I am experimenting with seasoning a couple pieces of non-kiln dried ebony I acquired (12-13% humidity). I cut the wood to an oversized handle size and drilled the hole for the dowel. My thought is the hole in the middle with provide better seasoning as the core is not holding the block back and there is more surface area exposed to the environment. So far so good, but it’s only been about 3-4 months.


    For kicks, there is a photo of a piece of walnut burl I cut less than a month ago. It was wet and has warped considerably in a short period of time.



    8249206B-AED4-422D-9976-CE9FDDD39538.jpeg B58159C7-489B-4C83-8A70-1E8B81FEB64A.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
  12. Apr 25, 2019 #12

    Bert2368

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    I am lucky, I got a good bit of hard wood that was decades old already when I salvaged it. I even have cherry wood my dad had milled from trees in our yard before I was born. When you find some good wood, put it by!

    If you get a green piece? Slab it, but don't bother to make it square or surfaced on the "live edges", then paint the end grain with melted wax, white shellac or one of the several commercial products made to seal end grain and slow water loss at the ends. This will help even out the loss of moisture throughout the slabs and works towards keeping the slabs from splitting at the ends, which would dry out and shrink faster than the center otherwise.

    Stack slabs somewhere out of the weather and not in direct sunlight with "stickers" between each lair (thin wooden lathe) and a little space between each piece horizontally to make sure air can circulate.

    Wait. For at least 2 years, 5 or even more is better. Can't wait too long (if it's in a dry, wood eating bug free storage).

    Then if you stored it in an unheated area, bring it indoors and wait a couple of weeks more for it to aclimatize to the humidity levels indoors.

    After that, you can usually start working it without too much danger of the wood wrecking your plans as it shrinks, splits and warps.
     

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