Please outline the process to season green wood for turning or furniture making.—David Witham
Donna Banfield replies: For turning, I first decide whether I want bowl blanks, hollow forms or end-grain vessels. For bowls, I will process the log as soon as I possibly can. That means cutting, roughing out bowl blanks and setting them aside for 1-2 years to dry.
If I can’t do that right away, this is what I do. Get the logs up off the ground on 2x4s or other sacrificial smaller logs. I coat both ends of the logs with Anchor Seal, and cover them with a tarp, preferably in the shade. This option works best in the fall and winter. If I get logs in the late spring or summer, I must process them as soon as possible. The hotter the weather, the greater likelihood of losing much of the logs to end grain checking.
In summer, I will take a 1˝-3˝ wide cut (depending on the diameter of the log) through the center to remove the pith. This is where most green logs will begin their cracking.
To accomplish this, lay the log on its side, and with chalk, measure a 1˝-3˝ wide chunk that you will cut from the middle of the log. The goal is to have two half logs with no pith in either half. I will rough turn those halves into bowl blanks as soon after cutting as I can. If I have several logs, it may take 2-3 days of roughing, so I keep those blanks covered and in the shade until ready to put on the lathe for turning.
For hollow forms or end grain vessels, my preference is to turn these green to final thickness. I do not turn these as often as bowls, so I process these logs first into halves, removing the pith, and then further processing on the band saw into large squares, or using the lathe, to make rounds, which reduces them in size. These are then tightly wrapped in stretch film wrapping plastic and placed in a chest freezer until I need them.
If I am processing green logs for boards, I will process them on my mill, into 1˝ thick boards. These are stickered and covered loosely on the top with a tarp to dry.
Dave Emerson replies: Pine dries quickly, one season well covered and ventilated outside and one winter in a heated location. No wood should be started drying anywhere near the peak drying season. Among hardwoods, red oak dries the fastest. But I can get away with the same as pine for not-too-critical uses in most hardwoods. For turning, of course, more is needed. They say a year for each inch. I can’t dry 3˝ cherry without a 50% loss to checking. I buy most all of my turning stock from Legg’s Logs. Whoever kilns his wood is the most reliable I’ve ever seen. Many rush the kilning process without allowing sufficient slow drying before it. The results, needless to say, are ugly.