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Bill C

Log rounds splitting from the edge.

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Hello everyone, advice needed on the subject of drying rounds of timber. The wife has taken up Pyrography (burning of images into various materials but mostly wood) Of course Joe muggings here has the job of cutting and sanding, and the most difficult bit drying the round with out it splitting from the edge. I've tried all the Goggle answers with not much success on the larger diameter wood( wood up to about 3" diameter seems to dry with out splitting) and I'm just wondering if anyone on here has had any bright ideas or success in this area. Or even a idea that you've not tried yet but think might work. Lengths cut with the grain are no problem so far! 

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Your problem is that wood shrinks more circumferentially (around the rings) than radially (straight in to centre). This means that as it dries it puts stress into the wood, which will crack unless held together until it gradually stretches to relieve the stress. Usually the answer to that is not to make pieces which include the central pith, that way the wood can move as it shrinks.

 

I think the only way to make bigger rings which are not split is to dry slowly in longer pieces, then saw off and discard the split parts from each end.

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Thanks for the answer I think I might try the cutting out the center, let it dry and glue it back in after idea next. I've tried the cut to a longer size then cut after its dried, the Holly that I had drying for 8 months, the outer end bits didn't crack but the bits in the middle did, but the Beech was the other way round and the outside ends split. Might be easier to get the wife to change hobbies!!

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If you make a disc and the slice it in half to two semicircles, then let them dry you will see the shrinkage as the cut faces will not match up any more. I guess at that point you could plane them and stick back together.

 

This is the reason through sawn planks warp and quarter sawn timber is more stable.

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Instead of rounds cut straight across, you could try cutting at an angle to make oval shapes. But you would need to experiment with wood species, log diameter, oval thickness, etc, to find what works! A book I have suggests an angle of 75 degrees, that’s just 15 degrees from straight across which might be fine for thinnish ovals.
 

I’ve done it with elm from a log about 400 dia and 60 to 70 thick ovals. It was years ago and can’t remember the angle but it was probably about 45 degrees. There was a fair bit of distortion, but they didn’t split.

 

I guess it works because the outermost wood fibres are not a ring right around the oval shape as they are with a circular disc.

 

Andrew

 

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Thank you Andrew, somebody said that to the wife on Thursday, so it seems that i'll be trying that the next time she asks me to prepare another round of timber. I've also seen a very old sign on a round that wasn't split, but can't remember were it was, other wise I would have a closer look to see how that was cut. The more I look into it the more I think luck takes a part in the result. In the middle of December I ringed up a piece of Beech, 10" thick and 22" wide into 5 equal pieces, 1 split in half, 1 cracked and the other 3 are still in one piece at the moment, the experiment continues!

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Apologies for the slight derail but it's closely related to what your trying to do in respect of preventing radial cracks.

 

I've done this with thin cookies 3/4 to 1/2" or less with the intent of making end grain platters and as you say it's very much hit and miss, I've used Alder, Ash, Birch, Oak and Beech all with varying results, once they get bigger than about a dinner plate size it becomes less likely to succeed.

 

One welcome and unexpected accident of doing this was that in slicing the cookies and discarding any that weren't to my satisfaction by chucking them to the side on damp grass I noticed that with one side damp and the other drying in the sun this encouraged dishing which relieved the stress very often without radial cracking, so I've experimented with this and tried to find ways to allow this to happen slowly.

 

Now when I'm ringing up something I'll often take some thin-ish cookies in proportion to the size of the log and see if I can get them to dish rather than cracking radially with care I can get about a 2"  dish in around a 12 - 14" cookie with best results being in the wettest wood which then sands into a very nice plate sized dish that when soaked through with Tung oil becomes a stable and durable piece of kitchen ware.

 

In respect to your post I agree that oblique cuts will give you a better chance of avoiding your splitting problem.

Edited by Macpherson
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Nice to see someone else experimenting with this and finding results and answers almost by mistake. I was given two 5ft lengths of 11inch Holly, I cut them into 12inch lengths and left out side for 4 months, then rounded them into 1 1/4" thick rounds, the end pieces have not split but the closer to the middle of the 12inch round the bigger the split which I would have thought was the wrong way round. I've now got various bits of various woods in various places exposed to all types of weather an various amounts of weather protection, so in a couple of months I'll be no wiser!!

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1 hour ago, Bill C said:

Nice to see someone else experimenting with this and finding results and answers almost by mistake. I was given two 5ft lengths of 11inch Holly, I cut them into 12inch lengths and left out side for 4 months, then rounded them into 1 1/4" thick rounds, the end pieces have not split but the closer to the middle of the 12inch round the bigger the split which I would have thought was the wrong way round. I've now got various bits of various woods in various places exposed to all types of weather an various amounts of weather protection, so in a couple of months I'll be no wiser!!

 

Nearly all of the cookies that I succeed in drying without cracking at the perimeter end up with small + shaped shrinkage cracks in the pith which I just fill with dust and CA glue.

 

If it's any help I've had more success trying this with fast growing less dense wood like Alder etc with 3/8" plus between growth rings

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3/8" between rings is fast growing, it's one type of wood what I've not got(at the moment) though we have some 12" willow that has not cracked but it feels not finished! after sanding down even with fine paper, but it looks ok when varnished or oiled. The Holly was hard to sand but it looks really good when varnished, a lot better than when oiled. The filling with dust and glue I've done before but not on wood that will be burned after but it's worth another experiment.

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