View Full Version : Driftwood drying?

10th Sep 2012, 12:29 PM
How long should should I dry out some driftwood I found before I turn it. I have cut it into standard pen blank sizes and it's pretty much soaked through. Timber might be jarrah or some other type of hard wood. Looks great for turning as it has holes all through it from termites.

10th Sep 2012, 01:17 PM
Well I guess you should weigh it, then keep an eye on the changing weight till it stops getting lighter and your done.

13th Sep 2012, 01:09 PM
Looks great for turning as it has holes all through it from termites.

I'm thinking that if it is really honey-combed from the termites, then it should dry quite a bit faster than a more intact piece of wood, you are in luck! But I agree, just keep weighing it periodically until it isn't loosing any more weight. Some people say to pack it with dry sawdust, as this can help speed the drying process (but maybe not if it is still saturated).

13th Sep 2012, 06:47 PM
Some people say to pack it with dry sawdust, as this can help speed the drying process (but maybe not if it is still saturated).

I've always thought that packing it with sawdust was to slow down the drying to help prevent checking.

14th Sep 2012, 06:27 AM
I don't know where you get your drift-wood but I'm guessing it's source is from the sea. So one thing you need to consider, depending on how long it's been afloat, is it's likely to be 'Salt Pickled'!

So you might find it brittle and difficult to turn, and if it does turn the salt may affect the edge of your tools quite quickly.

14th Sep 2012, 08:59 AM
The 2 main factors required to dry timber are heat and air movement. For air drying the timber is stacked with spacing between the planks and layers to allow air to pass around the wood. It is stacked in a sunny place and kept dry. Kiln drying is much the same process except the timber is stacked in the same manner but in a container and heat is circulated within the container before being ventilated out of it. Instead of heat an evaporative process can be used. The time taken to actually dry it will depend on how green it was before it went into the water plus how much water soaked into it. As you have cut it into small pieces then the drying time will be accelerated. The methods advised of checking how dry it has become are valid if you do not have a moisture meter.


14th Sep 2012, 12:42 PM
If you are willing to risk losing a piece to cracking, wrap a piece in around three wraps of news paper and microwave for 15 seconds. Feel and if not warm to the touch, again. Repeat until warm. Take out and set aside for an hour. Put back in and microwave as long as it took to get warm. Do this when you think of it for 5 - 7 times.

As it gets drier it will take less time to get warm. I charred a small bowl by not paying attention.

If you weigh as above between treatments, that will tell you when it is done.

16th Sep 2012, 12:43 AM
The first thing I would be concerned about is the salt.

have you tasted a piece.......seriously...have a bit of a suck on a cleanish piece..if it tastes at all salty, you would be wise to do something about it.

Soaking it in clean water, letting it drain and reeating a couple of times wont go astray if its already wet.

If its been in salt water long enough to get borer holes in it you can pretty safely assume that it is........um, dry from sap.

we have two moisture issues with timber.
First, how green it is.......this is a very similar issue to a meat being cooked or raw
How wet it is.......as you know you can have meat that is perfetly well cooked but is still moist.

Removing simple moisture can be done quicker than making the wood no longer green...if ya get me.

The salt water would have done the job of "pickling" the timber as has been mentioned and you just have to deal with the salt and the simple moisture.

I'd be laying it out, spread out on some paper till it is at least dry to touch. then have a go in the microwave....or mums kitchen oven.

I've had very good sucess in the microwave......just nuke the blanks till they are good and warm to touch...no more..... leave aside till they cool and go again.....it is possible to stack up quite a few blanks in the microwave and give em a few minutes every half an hour and have bone dry wood in less than a day.

some people are having good sucess with food dehydrators, or just using mums kitchen oven on its very lowest setting.