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Old 06-19-2008, 10:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
ColoradoHermit's Avatar
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Canon City, Colorado, USA.
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Default Keep wood from splitting?

This is probably a stupid question but I'm new to wood working. My favorite niece had to cut down one of her cherry trees and wants me to turn some things out of it for her. I started on a bottle stopper but ran out of time and had to stop till the next day. When I got back to it, it was split almost in half and had several cracks in it.
I had cut one small branch of the tree into a few sections for pens and tried sealing the ends with some clear polyurethane spray, (that was all I had) but that didn't work either.
Now I also have a peach tree that I need to cut some nice size branch's off of along with a couple of apple trees. I would like to be able to use the wood for turning pens and maybe a few small box's. So how do I keep the wood from cracking and splitting?
I do have a couple of long pieces of choke cherry wood that I cut from my over sized bush several years ago. I had thought about using it for walking staffs and forgot about it. I got them out the other day and they were split about a foot and half to two foot from the end but the rest was OK. I've made a few pens out of it that came out OK. I was kinda surprised that the choke cherry wood came out almost pure white like ivory and was very hard and hard on the cutting tools too. There's a lot more of it that I could cut out to use but I don't want to loose that much of it to splitting.
Any who, how do you keep it from splitting?
The ColoradoHermit
Canon City, Colorado
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Old 06-19-2008, 10:46 AM   #2 (permalink)
Join Date: Mar 2007
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You will get some splitting when you work with green lumber, but it can be minimized, often eliminated totally. Some woods like cherry and osage really like to split, what I do with them is to remove the bark and seal up the ends. With a bigger piece I split it like a piece of firewood, remove the bark if I can, and then seal up the ends.

Somebody will give you the name of the product that is sold to seal up ends, I've tried it and it works fine, I just don't normally have any available. What is cheaper and more available it basic white glue. Give the end of the raw wood a good shot of Elmers and spread it around good, work it into the grain with your fingers, go around to the side and make sure you have a thick coat down about an inch all the way around; both ends.

Let it set for a few months and you are ready to turn. There are several other methods including burying it in sawdust for few weeks.
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:25 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The best sealer (in my humble opinion) is Anchorseal
found at:

JohnP -
Chesapeake, VA
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:45 AM   #4 (permalink)
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We like to use the sawdust method, but we do not get much truly green wood. It may have a high moisture content or came from someplace that was rainy or had high humidity. To help stabilize it before we turn, we will often toss the wood in a barrel full of saw dust.

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Old 06-19-2008, 12:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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All above is correct. Sealing properly is a big factor. But, split some of the larger pieces, allow to dry then cut down to blanks for project turning. Full round will split 99% of the time, sealed or not.
Mountain Home, Arkansas
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Old 06-20-2008, 12:07 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Depending on the initial diameter of the tree you cut, or will cut, you may find this tutorial to be just what you need to learn about.

I have used Steve Russell's 'boiling method' for over a year now and have yet to lose any bowl blanks. Woods that split when turned for pens, i.e., Snakewood, etc. also benefit GREATLY from the boiling processes.

Try it at least once and I am sure that you will be V E R Y pleased to say the least. Just follow Dr. Russell's directions to the letter and see for yourself. :D
Fred ...

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Old 07-15-2008, 12:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Location: Loudonville, NY, USA.
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They also make Anchorseal in different colors if you really want to get creative....

Just make sure to seal the ends, in an inch or two from the ends, and any knots.
Loudonville, NY
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Old 07-15-2008, 12:45 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You can also use paraffin wax if have any available. We have some left over from when we used it for canning.
Chris Koterman
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