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Drying Curly Maple


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A neighbor’s tree got blown over recently (a big maple), and they let me cut up some of the stump. I saw some curly grain at the break by the root so I cut two large pieces from there and one from the root. The middle of the tree was rotted out, so the pieces are about 3” thick. 

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Basically, my question is how should I set this up to dry to minimize checking/other damage. Warping isn’t that bad, since it isn’t straight anyways. Should I cut it into smaller pieces? Remove the bark? Square off/seal the ends? I’ve dried wood a few times before, but always in smaller pieces so I’m not sure where to start. 

Thanks for reading, any advice is appreciated!

Edited by Aiden CC
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I would remove the bark as that's where bugs tend to get in, and they can really destroy the blank.  I think squaring off the ends before coating is a good idea, as you can see that the end grain is coated.  The rule of thumb used by most woodworkers is one year per inch of thickness, so cutting into smaller pieces would allow the pieces in less time.  There's a product for coating end grain on green lumber to prevent checking (cracking) called Anchorseal.  I've had pretty good luck with it, but you should keep it under cover.  I've found it tends to get washed off if left out in the weather.  You can buy it from most woodworking supply houses. 

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Why do I get the feeling of seeing some very interesting knife handles coming from this wood stock being posted in the near future using this maple.  I'd love to have a stock pile of that now that's a steel right there in itself.  Id say that's at least  60 bucks in maple if not more right there alone.

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Since you've dried wood before you probably know that you must seal the end grain on each piece.  For this you will  need either an oil base paint or some melted wax.  Air drying will usually only get the wood to 12-14% moisture (depending on the humidity level where you live) which isn't low enough.  Once it's  done air drying you will need to artificially lower the moisture.  

Remember that maple is one of the most unstable woods by nature so once dry, it would be best to have it stabilized.  

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On 1/13/2019 at 7:11 PM, Rich Bostiga said:

I would remove the bark as that's where bugs tend to get in, and they can really destroy the blank.  I think squaring off the ends before coating is a good idea, as you can see that the end grain is coated.  The rule of thumb used by most woodworkers is one year per inch of thickness, so cutting into smaller pieces would allow the pieces in less time.  There's a product for coating end grain on green lumber to prevent checking (cracking) called Anchorseal.  I've had pretty good luck with it, but you should keep it under cover.  I've found it tends to get washed off if left out in the weather.  You can buy it from most woodworking supply houses. 

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Yeah, I can see how bugs could be a bad time. I was hoping the bark would peel off like some other wood I’ve worked with, but it took a bit more work. Also, decided to cut off a few smaller blanks so I can start working with this stuff a bit sooner. 

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Also, when I was cutting this I broke a saw blade (one of the thin Japanese style ones) because of binding in the wood, and I went to a wood working supply stood and got a replacement plus some end grain sealer. 

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Also, a neat effect in the root wood, with some natural staining, possibly from minerals in the soil, making for an interesting two-tone effect. 

On 1/13/2019 at 7:57 PM, Gary Mulkey said:

Since  Air drying will usually only get the wood to 12-14% moisture (depending on the humidity level where you live) which isn't low enough.  Once it's  done air drying you will need to artificially lower the moisture.  

Remember that maple is one of the most unstable woods by nature so once dry, it would be best to have it stabilized.  

The chemistry lab at my school has a drying oven I’ve used in the past, so maybe when it’s time I’ll use that. 

When you say unstable, does that refer to changing size with humidity? I’ve never worked with stabilized wood, but it could be worth trying.

Edited by Aiden CC
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Depending on the species.  Some maples move with humidity more than others.  Silver maple, red maple, and bigleaf maple all move a LOT more than sugar maple.  

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I have not had a good time with attempting to dry maple.  For me my sugar maple checks and splits to no end. 

 

I have however gotten some other woods to dry well.  Plum, and surprisingly apple which I turn in small ornaments.  Remove the heavy bark, but the lighter bark near the sap wood leave that.  The end grain must be coated, you can simply paint them.   The process is to stop the water from evaporating too quickly from the end grains which causes the checking.

 

Spalted/speckled lumbers are really prized lately. The apple tree I took down and dried was left dead standing for a year before it took it down.  The colors in it are amazing, if you can get that lumber to dry and be use-able it's gonna have a really outstanding look in it.  You can also accelerate that spalting by wrapping the wood in a plastic bag as it drys. 

Edited by Daniel W
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23 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Depending on the species.  Some maples move with humidity more than others.  Silver maple, red maple, and bigleaf maple all move a LOT more than sugar maple.  

I believe this is silver maple, so I'll expect some movement.

17 minutes ago, Daniel W said:

I have however gotten some other woods to dry well.  Plum, and surprisingly apple which I turn in small ornaments.  Remove the heavy bark, but the lighter bark near the sap wood leave that.  The end grain must be coated, you can simply paint them.   The process is to stop the water from evaporating too quickly from the end grains which causes the checking.

 

Spalted/speckled lumbers are really prized lately. The apple tree I took down and dried was left dead standing for a year before it took it down.  The colors in it are amazing, if you can get that lumber to dry and be use-able it's gonna have a really outstanding look in it.  You can also accelerate that spalting by wrapping the wood in a plastic bag as it drys. 

The sealer I found is a wax suspension, and I applied a liberal coat, so hopefully it works. My college owns a plot of woods and any dead wood is fair game, and I've found some neat spalting in standing-dead trees and stumps, particularly in an elm tree cut down by beavers. When I cut it open on the bandsaw, a bunch of ants poured out, which was pretty shocking to say the least, definitely a disadvantage of found wood :blink:. The nicest wood I have found was a piece figured ash, but it's still drying. I also recently found some curly elm in a stump that I need to prep properly next. I also found a burl in a big tulipwood stump, a blank from which dried quickly enough to make this last year: 

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I'm actually somewhat looking forward to the snow storm this weekend, since all the trees/branches that fall into access roads get cut up into manageable pieces and hauled to a compost pile which makes it much easier for me :D.

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