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Microwaving logs???

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  • Microwaving logs???

    Hi there.

    I recently got some great advice on here when making silver birch candle holders so many thanks for that. They came out not bad.

    I got the logs from a lovely company in Scotland whom air dry the logs for 18months or so before selling.

    I now have cut, drilled and sanded the new pieces and have noticed small cracking coming from the centre out wards. Only small but they now look like mini clocks!!!!! I'm presuming this is the drying process.

    Was wondering what I could do to either speed up the drying process or reduce the cracks? Have watched some interesting vids online regarding microwaving the logs and if done safely this looks like a good way of doing it??

    Just wondered if anyone has tried this or could offer some advice as to the finishing off drying of this wood. I haven't got the money to buy a kiln or time to wait months for drying.

    Many thanks in advance

  • #2
    Wood in the round is going to split when drying, it's just the way it is. Air dried for 18 months in Scotland the logs will still be wet (in woodworking terms). The general rule of thumb is wet or green wood needs at least 1 year per inch of thickness to air dry. You could try having some in the house for a month or two before working on them. Microwaving can dry wood (I've not done it myself but don't get it too hot, short bursts on auto defrost is way to do it I think), but it will still move and if your logs are round will probably still split. the only way to reduce the cracks is to split the logs down though the centre.

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    • #3
      Thanks for the quick reply and very useful information. I've had the logs near radiators in the house, my other half doesn't seem to mind to much. It's funny how the crack on the top where the hole is drilled but the bottoms remain fine. I'm guessing that because they still have moisture. Thanks once again.

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      • #4
        Hi Rob. Geoff here again. A friend of mine is a wood turner and he uses green wood (freshly felled trees) green wood is a lot easier to work with on the lathe. He roughly shapes a bowl to about an inch thick and then dries the bowl in a micro wave. He does it in ten minute burst. I don't know how long between burst although I could ask him. As Glenwood said, it is natural for logs to split when they are drying. Your logs came from Scotland and although they were air dried for 18 months they would still be wet. I think the worst thing you could do would be to put them by a radiator as this will increase the splitting. If it were me I would keep them in a cool dry place where they can dry naturally. You can also cover the ends with end seal, the helps prevent the logs from cracking, basically its paraffin wax.

        We have a new guy coming to the craft fairs and he makes a few candle holders using 6 inch high sections of thick branches up to 8 inches wide. He also makes candle holders from the tree trunks themselves and these are about 2 - 3 inches thick and anything up to 18inches across.He lives on the edge of a forest and he will go up mid week and cut down a tree or two and by the weekend he is displaying his candle holders made from the same wood. I have not noticed any splits or cracking with his, probably because they are still wet. He is selling them like hot cakes, at one time he had five people queuing at his stall waiting to buy them.

        Some varieties split easier than others, box wood will almost certainly split regardless. I have found yew and cherry to be very forgiving but its getting hold of it. Tree surgeons are a good source but then again it will be freshly felled. Hope this helps.

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        • #5
          Just a word of warning. I make lamps out of driftwood from the river and I have dried logs in the oven and microwave, but had a very near miss once after putting a log in the microwave one morning. I took it out and left it on a baking tray on the kitchen side and went off to church. on my return the log was gone and init's place was a pile of ash. That was one near miss!
          full time mum and very very part time crafter.

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          • #6
            Thanks guys for the replies. It is very much appreciated.

            Seen a vid last night whereby the guy was micro blasting then drying then weighing and would repeat the process till the wood remained the same weight. Think I might give it a go.

            Perhaps god was trying to send you a message???? :-) ill make sure that I go to church before hand......a few prayers never hurt anyone! :-)

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            • #7
              Microwaving wood does work but ideally have a glass of water in with the wood. Whatever you do don't put the wood in the mictowave and just leave it. Beadsbydesign's experience shows that it isn't safe. The splits occur where you have drilled because you have released the tension. The outside is wetter than the centre of a log as it is where the sap rises so will have more moisture content. Instead of worrying about the cracks make a feature of them by filling with something like brass powder, wood dust, coffee grains etc mixed with epoxy glue.
              I moved from Cornwall, a damp county, to Wiltshire and some pieces that I had turned a couple of years previously split on me not long after the move. Kiln dried wood is taken to about 12% moisture content, air dried will be whatever the ambient level is.

              Pete
              "Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art" ... Leonardo Da Vinci
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              • #8
                Some excellent ideas here many thanks once again, just come back from the wood yard and they also mentioned having a glass of water in there as well.

                Got some yew and elm to practice on. Will have a go at mixing some brass powder with the glue. Cheers.

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