View Full Version : drying green timber

10th Jul 2000, 08:00 PM
I have acquired by virtue of a neighbour's cutting out an old tree, a quantity of camphor laurel logs, most only suitable for spindle turning. Some are green and some are close to being dry. Can anyone please tell me how to dry the green stuff? I see that some recommend sealing with wax etc. Can I turn the green stuff into blanks straight away then seal it or should I seal it and wait? How long do I have to leave it before it is dry enough to make into a finished object? Sorry I sound so ignorant but I'm not long addicted to this activity and I'll take any help I can get.I guess different timbers have different drying times or is it more dependent on the climate/weather?

Gordon Steele
18th Jul 2000, 05:26 PM
I am a new hand too, but an old turner friend thinks Camphor Laurel will take at least a year to dry out in good dry airy conditions. I have some logs split and stored on racks with the ends sealed. I have also been rough turning bowls and boxes green down to about 25mm thickness and drying them in a microwave oven. Repeated cycles of 20 mins on "defrost" until there is no further weight loss seems to work ok. Hope this helps. Gordon

Gordon Steele

18th Jul 2000, 11:03 PM

Seing as no-one else seems to want to help... here's my 2 bobs worth.

It is not possible to give you even a fair appreciation of seasoning timber in the confines of this small posting. There are a number of methods of seasoning, including air drying, forced air systems, dehumidifier, freezing and kiln drying. Suffice to say that in the home workshop Air drying tends to be the choice of those not prepared or able to build or buy the necessary structure and/or machinery to support an accelerated method.

In my experience, the microwave method is OK for thin walled pieces, but there is a danger of splitting "fat" pieces. You'll also get distortion in a microwave, which is OK if thats what you want and fun to try on occasions.

Air drying is probably the most practical method for home workshops, but the drawback is that it can take months, and sometimes years. One way to shortcut this is to turn your piece green and dry it like that. You have to leave enough bulk to true up after any distortion and the amount you leave is a matter of experience and preference. After turning a piece green, some people seal parts of it, but there is a range of views on where to seal. Some seal around the rims of bowls, some seal only over feature sections and some don't seal at all.

You'll probably find that most introductory wood turning books, or those that claim to comprehensive source books, will contain some advice on seasoning. A trip to your local library might assist.

Good luck

Mark Jackson

19th Jul 2000, 12:06 AM
My two bob's worth too. 1. It's only rotten old camphor laurel so don't be too scared to experiment! 2. If you want to use it dry, rip the logs down the middle to release the tension (the timber's and your's) and leave the split logs to dry. They'll take about one year for each inch of thickness (so if the split logs are about 4" diameter, it'll take two years as they'll dry from each side). 3. If you want to turn the timber while green, then do so but leave the bowl or whatever about 3/4" thick and put it in a paper bag for a couple of months (the bag slows down the drying to help prevent splitting). Then finish it off. Good luck.

19th Jul 2000, 09:58 AM
Thanks Gordon, MJ, and RFNK for your advice. I'd almost given up and was on my way to the library! I'm off now to try out your suggestions.
Ta muchly

19th Jul 2000, 05:05 PM
A little warning on microwave drying of turned work.

I believe there was an article somewhere in the past couple of years on the follow up of microwave dried bowls, which found that after a number of years the internal structure (cells) of the timber in the bowls was had collapsed rather badly.

From memory the outward appearance of the bowls was basically unchanged. Don't recall too much more than that, maybe someone else has info on this.

Cheers - Neil http://ubb.ubeaut.com.au/ubb/smile.gif

PS As RFNK said it is only Camphor Laurel so don't be too scared to experiment! I would turn it green and have a ball. Some of the distortions from turning green timber can be great fun and very attractive in the finished piece. Just make sure the base is not distorted.

19th Jul 2000, 05:19 PM
Where can I get some of this lousy camphor laurel ? (at the right price)?????
Another method I have used on green timber with some success is to rough turn a bowl blank to apprx 40-50mm,put it in a plastic bag and stick it in the freezer for 48 hours or so then take it out wrap in a tea towel, or similiar and place in the fridge for 4or 5 days,or until, defrosted. Depending on the degree of wetness of the cloth repeat this process once or twice then finish the bowl. A paint stripping gun can also help for any residual damp patces that may occur during the final turning, but not too hot!
In my experience the above process works well with silky oak and cedar wattle.
Also helps to have an understanding partner!
John H.

19th Jul 2000, 10:45 PM

I recently tried doing that with a big lump of camphor laurel I'd turned. I still got a split across the base of the bowl, which when polished was hard to spot. What I didn't do was use a plastic bag, and now my wife is complaining that the frozen sausages smell like camphor.

I told her to keep her food out of my beer fridge!!!!

John Saxton
19th Jul 2000, 11:08 PM
Hi Chas,I remember early on in my woodturning days reading an article in regards to your query.
Woodturners with green timber would turn the blanks down to an approximate size and shape but still left about an inch or 2.5cm on the edges(if you're talking about face plate turning that is or bowls if you wish)or those pieces that would be turned between centre's would be rough turned down and then they would proceed to bury them in sawdust and shavings keeping them fully covered for between 6-12 months and checking their weight from the six month period onwards after of course logging their initial weight at the outset after the initial turning was done.I have'nt tried this myself but there may be some old turners around who could verify this and I'M sorry I cannot remember where I saw the article,but if you have storage space then this could be another avenue to investigate upon getting the full details possibly from someone else even on this forum!!This might be similar in principal to the way some of the old butchers used to cure their chopping blocks in that they would immerse their blocks in water until such time as the cellulose was leached out of the block and was replaced with the water which apparently reduced splitting by gradual reduction of the cells as the water was allowed to drain off.Don't quote me on this as I heard this from a butcher cum woodturner some time back.
Cheers and have a good day.


[This message has been edited by John Saxton (edited 19 July 2000).]

[This message has been edited by John Saxton (edited 19 July 2000).]

Gordon Steele
27th Jul 2000, 06:19 PM
I should have added that I bought a second hand microwave for the workshop and cook till there is no more weight loss. My wife wouldn't be at all happy if I used her oven!

Gordon Steele