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Drying Green Bowls (Read 1,774 times)
 
Larry Wise
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Boonville, Indiana, USA
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Drying Green Bowls
Jun 18th, 2013 at 9:02pm
 
I have read and watched everything I can find concerning drying green turned bowls.  Does anyone have a high percentage success rate with one technique?
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Jeff Smith
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Auburn, Washington, USA
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Re: Drying Green Bowls
Reply #1 - Jun 18th, 2013 at 10:11pm
 
Larry: I didn't see where you are from on your post, but it will have a big effect on how best to dry your blanks. What works for me way up in the upper left hand corner of the country wouldn't necessarily work for those in Arizona. Ask at the local club, if you've got one; or let us know where you are for help from someone close.
Up here, for most of what I turn, I rough it out, put it in the pile of shavings for a couple of days, then stack them rims down on the floor (stickered so air can circulate under. After the surface is dry I stack on wire racks and let them sit 'til I'm ready to turn them. Woods that turn to move and crack like Madrone, or fruit woods and anything that's highly figured get boiled then treated like everything else. Works for me. I lose a few, but it's rare.
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Larry Wise
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Boonville, Indiana, USA
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Re: Drying Green Bowls
Reply #2 - Jun 18th, 2013 at 11:21pm
 
Thank you for your reply. This is very helpful as I am just getting back into turning and have little experience with green bowls.  I live in Southwestern Indiana. The humidity is wicked in the summer time.  We have temperature extremes from winter to summer.  It can run from zero to above one hundred.  I have no control over the temp/humidity.
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robo_hippy
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Eugene, OR, USA
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Re: Drying Green Bowls
Reply #3 - Jun 19th, 2013 at 10:28am
 
Summer time drying would probably be no problem, especially if you have a root cellar. Any place out of direct sun and wind. In the winter time, if you are climate controlled, or inside in the summer if air conditioned might be a problem because the centralized heating/cooling systems are dehumidifiers, and can dry the wood out faster than you want. I would cover them with a tarp. Interesting about one turner who puts his in a clear stream, but muddy stream not so good. Drying is an art, and no two woods will dry the same, and even pieces from the same tree will dry differently. You have some experimenting to do. Even wall thickness helps. Rounding over the rims helps. I don't bury mine in fresh shavings because I have found some discolorations on some bowls that go deeper than sanding will handle. I do turn to final thickness right off the bat, so if you are twice turning them, probably not a problem. Seal rough blanks for sure.

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Larry Wise
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Boonville, Indiana, USA
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Drying Green Wood
Reply #4 - Jun 18th, 2013 at 8:37pm
 
I would be interested to hear opinions concerning the best way to dry green turned bowls.  All good help is appreciated.  Thank you.
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Jeff Gilfor
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Re: Drying Green Wood
Reply #5 - Jun 19th, 2013 at 8:12am
 
Best way =  naturally drying to ambient humidity (a year or more on a shelf, after coating the pith and end grain with sealer).

Next Best Ways = rough it out to about 10% thickness and naturally dry (weeks to months on a shelf)

Next next best Ways = Kiln drying (you're on your own there)

Least Best (but probably most used) Ways =  Liquid Laundry Soap soaking, alcohol soaking, PEG soaking, boiling, microwaving, etc.

There are several excellent resources online about these different methods, their pluses and minuses, and how to. Just use your favorite search engine.
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John Cepko
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Re: Drying Green Wood
Reply #6 - Jun 19th, 2013 at 8:22am
 
My favorite way, because I lose fewer to cracks, is to rough turn a green log to a uniform 10% of diameter thickness. Round off the rim, and leave a bottom tenon.
Coat the whole bowl with an Anchor Seal type sealer, and leave on a rack. Weigh the rough turned bowl when first turned, and write the weight and date on a piece of tape stuck to the bowl.
Every week or two, weigh it, and write it down. when it stops losing weight for a month or so, I finish turn, and finish the bowl.
Depending on the size, shape, thickness, weather, and type of wood, how green it was determines the drying time.
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Walt_Nollan
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Hanford, California, USA
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Re: Drying Green Wood
Reply #7 - Jun 19th, 2013 at 8:46am
 
As the other guys have have mentioned, rough turn the bowl to 10% thickness of the bowls diameter.  What works for me in my location, central California, for bowls 10" or less ill soak in DNA for 24 hours, cover the outside with old news paper, and let dry for a few weeks then finish turn.

For bowls more than 10" I'll rough turn to 10% of the diameter, coat with anchor seal on the outside and let dry of the shop floor.  This can take up to a year for 12"+ bowls.

Your locations temperature and humidity factors into which process will work and how long it will take.  Find a near by club or another turner and ask them.  You can also use the MAP feature to see if there is a WR member near you.
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Mick Ralph
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Wexford, Ireland
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Re: Drying Green Wood
Reply #8 - Jun 19th, 2013 at 9:50am
 
Although im a Noob, I've tried a few suggested ways of drying green, as most of my supply is green wood. I now cut mine to 10% of diameter and put them in a rack in a waterfall or a fast flowing stream ( if you have access to one) for two weeks . Then let them dry for up to a week on an open shelf. Then turn to finish. I get 1 in 20 crack. Hope this helps.
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robo_hippy
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Eugene, OR, USA
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Re: Drying Green Wood
Reply #9 - Jun 19th, 2013 at 10:16am
 
Wish I had access to a waterfall and fresh flowing stream. Do you weight them down to keep them from floating off? Really interesting technique. Old timers used to sink their logs in the mill ponds for a while.

robo hippy
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dennis nagle
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Re: Drying Green Wood
Reply #10 - Jun 19th, 2013 at 10:27am
 
We had a mill pond at our saw mill but it was for keeping the ends of the logs from cracking/checking.  All the logs were 44' long so losing 6" on each end of a log does not sound like much but over the year it can add up to big bucks.

How does soaking a roughed out bowl in water help it dry?  What is the principle behind it?
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Tim Hyatt
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Re: Drying Green Wood
Reply #11 - Jun 19th, 2013 at 10:27am
 
ask 10 turners, and you'll probably get 10 different opinions.  The end results seem to be largely the same.  Space and time play factors in some choices...

I know lots of folks on here like the boiling method.. (rough turn, boil, let dry for a few weeks, then finish turn)  It sounds like it's fairly simple, and doesn't seem to require much extra effort really.  I believe someone said they start their pot going, and just drop them in to boil as they turn, swapping a the next one comes off the lathe.   
    The biggest drawback I can see with this method is the need for a heat source and a pot big enough to be able to submerge your bowl in, and the fuel requirements to keep the pot boiling.
( I looked at this method when I started into bowl turning and decided I didn't really have the space to safely operate a burner...)

As jeff said, turning to rough, and coating to let dry naturally there after is a viable option.  it's very easy, requires very little "extra" other than the sealer of some kind.  You can get similar results by wrapping the back side of the bowl with brown paper/butcherpaper/2 layers of newsprint/etc...   Some will just put the whole bowl in a paper bag and close it up that way...   
   the biggest drawback to this method is time.  It can take 6 months (roughly) for a bowl to dry enough to finish. 
    (for myself, the time lag was longer than i wanted to spend; I also don't have a great deal of space to store the bowls while they're drying...)

Another method, similar to boiling, is using Denatured Alcohol.  As with boiling, you submerge the rough turned piece for several hours (mine are typically overnight), then dry, wrap and set on a shelf to complete drying.  They're usually ready to finish turn in about a month.
   This is the method I use.  Space required is smaller than straight drying as there's fewer pieces in process and only needs a bucket in the corner for the bath.  Finding a large enough bucket was a bit of an issue at first, but a 5 gal bucket worked fine in the end.  DNA costs aren't too outrageous; you lose a little with every piece that goes in, but a gallon of the stuff seems to last me quite a while.  I buy a new gallon maybe every dozen bowls or so...  (a tight fighting lid is a must to prevent evaporation!)   I'm in WV; mine dry down to about 12% according to my meter.  (baseline is a small practice spindle I carved from a scrap of cedar and has been sitting in the climate controlled portion of my basement ever since...it's consistently 12% every time i've tested it...)

Some of the guys on here are big advocates of turning to finish thickness while still green. 
   the primary drawback I can see for this is getting it thin enough to prevent it from failing.   It does require a fairly consistent wall thickness to permit more even drying.   Also, the bowl is very likely to warp and do so significantly (depending on species)
   While I could see this for myself as an occasional experiment or artistic effort, I wanted my bowls to be more regular than this process would produce..

There's a few guys who also microwave their turnings.   that was a new one when I first heard about it on this forum.  I can see how it might be a workable method.  For me, I don't have the space to accommodate a dedicated microwave so it's not really a viable option in my shop.

soaking in a soap solution seems to be very similar to the DNA procedure.

it seems there are many ways to get there, and really the "best" choice is the one that works well for you and your shop.  In the end, it's the results that really matter, not the means... smiley=thumbsup.gif
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Don Stephan
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Re: Drying Green Bowls
Reply #12 - Jun 19th, 2013 at 7:21pm
 
Larry:

Here in Cincinnati OH I have been making once turned bowls using green wood, for about a year.  I've been leaving the wall thickness up to 3/8" for a 10" bowl and proportionally thinner for smaller bowls, but generally not less than 3/16" for a 5" diameter bowl.  Bradford pear, ash, sycamore, and maple seem to dry well just leaving in paper grocery bags until the daily weight loss is less than 2%, then continuing to dry in the open air.  Oak with the bowl facing the pith both warped extremely this spring and developed splits along the inner growth rings; red oak I turned a couple weeks ago I'm leaving in paper bags on the concrete floor for an extended period of time.  Walnut air dried this spring developed some drying cracks, so the walnut turned a few weeks ago was also placed in individual paper grocery bags until daily weight loss was less than 2%.  I don't feel bad getting paper grocery bags as I plan to use them for years and am using them to recycle lost logs.
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Larry Whitlow
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Martinez, California, California, USA
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Re: Drying Green Bowls
Reply #13 - Jun 19th, 2013 at 10:24pm
 
I rough turn down to 10% as others have said, or less if I think I can get away with it.  Then I write the date and species and throw it in the pile.  However, I only do rough turning on a full moon when Jupiter is aligned with Mars. Smiley
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Breck Whitworth
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Re: Drying Green Bowls
Reply #14 - Jun 20th, 2013 at 9:20am
 
Larry, I generally use the roughing to 10% rule then coat completely with anchor seal and let it sit about 2' off the floor to dry. Very few cracks period. Another thing to think about is green turning to finish on some of the fresh green wood. It is a great deal of fun and the wood movement can be minimal if you follow certain guidelines for turning green wood.(time turning and wall thickness) Then there are a basketfull of techniques out there for keeping the green turnings from splitting and I am sure they all have some success. Mine works very well.
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