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Thread: Log section storage questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Elkhart, IN
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    228

    Log section storage questions

    When I get wood from a downed tree I have been cutting the log sections into short lengths (10-16") and cutting them in half to get rid of the pith. I brush on Anchor Seal and store in a log rack beside my garage. No matter if I cover the wood with a tarp or leave it uncovered the wood cracks as it gets hot sun between 10am-2pm. Even if it's sealed with Anchor seal or latex paint as other have suggested it still cracks badly. I have some recently cut cherry that I got a month ago and it has all cracked so bad that it's mostly unusable for bowls but I may be able to salvage some for spindle blanks. (I can't move it anywhere else around the outside of the house per the Boss Lady's mandate).

    I have some room (not much) in our single car garage for about 6-8ft of storage along the inside of the "outside" wall opposite the wall shared with the house. What are your thoughts, ideas, tips, etc about storing sealed wood in the garage? Any suggestions on a log rack/ heavy duty wire shelves, etc??

    I friend suggested that if I leave the wood stored outside that I use melted paraffin wax as an end sealer. But, will that slow the drying too much compared to Anchor seal?


    Thanks
    Ricc Havens
    Elkhart, IN
    Last edited by Ricc Havens; 07-10-2018 at 2:18 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Northern Illinois
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    298
    Anchor Seal seems to be a good sealant. I would guess that, because the wood is exposed to sun regularly, that's your problem. My suggestion would be to store the log sections in a covered area rather than a place that gets hot sun for 4 hours a day. The sun is baking the moisture right out of the wood. The drying process is most likely speeded up because of the sun, thus causing the cracks. I'm no expert but possibly experiment with some pieces in a different non-sun exposed area.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Elkhart, IN
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    [QUOTE=.... My suggestion would be to store the log sections in a covered area rather than a place that gets hot sun for 4 hours a day. The sun is baking the moisture right out of the wood. The drying process is most likely speeded up because of the sun, thus causing the cracks. I'm no expert but possibly experiment with some pieces in a different non-sun exposed area.[/QUOTE]

    Randy, thanks for the input. I know the sun is the issue but as I mentioned - that is the only outside location I can store wood so I can't experiment with different non-sun locations. that's why I am asking for input on storing the logs in the garage as it is covered and away from direct sunlight. But, also wanted to know if paraffin was better than Anchor seal no matter if the wood was stored inside a garage or outside.


    Thanks
    Ricc
    Last edited by Ricc Havens; 07-10-2018 at 2:23 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Kapolei Hawaii
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    2,797
    As a side track, I have been doing an experiment with pruning sealer. The spray can kind you use when you trim tree limbs. I do know some folks say not to use it, but I do. Anyways, I trimmed my tangerine tree, and kept 2 branches which I sprayed with the ends with sealer, and it hasn't cracked yet. Left under the tree in the most adverse conditions. Been several months. Citrus trees usually crack for me in a few days.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    East Tennessee
    Posts
    837
    I prefer to leave the logs intact and cut blanks as needed when i can turn them immediately. I usually do need to cut a couple of inches off the end to get rid of the cracks.
    If I can't leave the log whole I cut them into blanks and toss them in my Spring. I've had blanks in the water for over a year and they look like I cut them yesterday.
    Fortunately I live in the country and have the room and means to do this, I understand most people can't.

  6. #6
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    Mar 2005
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    Elkhart, IN
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    Kyle - interesting! thanks for sharing.

    Daryl - Unfortunately I don't have a way to keep logs intact. They have to be cut into sections so I can lift and load them into my station wagon or a friends small Nissan pickup. I don't have a way to haul logs to my house then get them thought a 36" wide gate to get them into the back yard. My wife for some reason is resistant to me storing logs on the front lawn in our neighborhood.


    Ricc

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    6,613
    Bad news. The wisdom from the very experienced and professional green wood turners is simple: don't store log sections. They recommend to not accept more wood than you can process/turn in a couple of weeks. Storing it for an extended time, even with good end sealer, will almost always result in worthless firewood. Well known turner Stephen Russell preached this for years. In many parts of the country fresh green wood is available year around and for free, if you look for it.

    Note that is is for most species of wood. A few, such as Eastern Red Cedar, can survive somewhat better. Some species (and individual trees) are horrible. Some species and specific trees, for example some cherry, are so bad that unsealed they will start cracking withing minutes of cutting. Sealed you might have a few weeks. (You really need to put green sections in the shade. Forget the tarp unless you suspend it to provide shade.)

    The other John Jordan, the famous one, turns green wood. He gets wood in log form, even if he has to pay to have it delivered. He stores it in the shade, off the ground. When he wants to turn something he cuts 6" off the end of the log then cuts a blank. He said he never bothers with sealer.

    I never even try to save short log sections. I process them as soon as possible into blanks for spindles, boxes, bowls, platters, etc. and let them dry for as long as needed. Some of the wood I am turning now has been air drying for over 10 years. Here are some blanks just cut from a short sassafras log section and others from ambrosia maple.
    processing_wood_3.jpg ambrosia_maple_IMG_20171202_175649_933.jpg
    If the wood will fit I usually process it on my shop bandsaw, otherwise I cut up the blanks on the sawmill. BTW, my shop has heat and air.

    I store all of my blanks in the shop until they are partially dry, then I move some of it to other locations which may get hotter in the summer but are still out of the weather and sun.. I use wire shelving units in the shop. I write the date of processing on every piece. I lose very little.

    drying_IMG_5757.jpg drying_IMG_5774.jpg dogwood_IMG_5759.jpg

    One way to save short log sections is called "ponding" - simply submerse them in water. If the water is in a drum you may have to change it occasionally. If you you ave a spring-fed pond with constantly refreshed water you can simply sink the logs. They will stay in good shape for a LONG time.

    Another way, if you have the space, is to freeze them. I experimented with freezing some green blanks once and after years in the freezer they were still in perfect shape.

    If your only option is outside in the sun, just save yourself the storage space and heartbreak and split the pieces into firewood when you get them. If you have inside storage space, you might have more success cutting them up first. Remove the pith and any center cracks. I usually try to minimize the sapwood in blanks of many species, perhaps cutting blocks with sapwood on the corners.

    JKJ

  8. #8
    If you leave them as rounds cut about 4" longer than the bowl diameter, you can cut the checks off the end then rip along the major cracks and still usually get big bowls. At least if you use them in a reasonable time.

    For some woods having the ends cut and being stored indoors under sealant will lead to very fast staining (usually gray or blue) from sapstain fungus.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Cambridge Vermont
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    209
    Have you thought about storing them in water? Drive by any mill around here and they have sprinklers going to keep the logs wet while they are waiting to be cut. I wouldn't advise it in the winter when the water will freeze. I try to store my blanks in my basement where it's cool and no sun. Cherry seams to do well but some of the yellow birch split enough so it's firewood. The only good thing is that I have a ton of it growing around here. I was able to make one small bowl and it's really nice wood.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Near Kansas City
    Posts
    74
    I picked up a cheap chest freezer on Craigslist and have had good luck storing blanks, rounds etc in there without any cracking. I can cut a bunch of stuff up and freeze them and put them straight onto the lathe without thawing. Also, if i'm doing a hollow form or even a bowl that I don't have time to finish I will unscrew the chuck and put the chuck and piece in the freezer with no adverse effects. I have a small drying kiln made from an old dishwasher. It works great but only if you can completely fill the thing with green bowls and not open the door for two weeks or more. I will rough turn a stack of bowls over a week or two and put them in the freezer. When I get enough simply fill the kiln and start over. I have been playing with this for awhile with good results.
    In the past I was hesitant to start a piece of an evening if I knew that I would not get it finished up in one setting. I'm talking primarily about hollow forms. This has solved that problem because I can stop and start again at any phase.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Elkhart, IN
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    John, thanks for the photos and response. I do cut and process fresh wood. But, I have a small basement shop in the furnace room as the rest of the basement is finished. So I'm running out of room to store cut blanks.

    I can't do the "ponding" idea as I live in a neighborhood without a creek, etc. Freezing them is out too as no room left in basement shop area for a freezer. With a single car garage I'd rather try a log rack or shelves first than buy a used freezer that can only hold a few pieces.

    I wish I could do what the other John Jordan does and only get green wood as I need it. But, I unfortunaley I don't drive due to a vision issue (I'm legally blind as I have lost all peripheral vision) So I have no way to regularly go and get wood. I have to take what I get when someone wants to drop off a few pieces or when I can get a piece or two in the wife's car. But, living in an urban area I don't have much access to free wood. When I have found a tree service cutting down trees in someon'e yard and stop and ask for some they want me to haul it away right away and not leave pieces for me to come back later and get. I have no place to store long log sections to be able to cut as I need a piece.

    So I'm just trying to find a way to work within my limitations of storage space and accessibility and not lose as much as I am losing to cracking.

    Thanks
    Ricc

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Elkhart, IN
    Posts
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    Alex, I have no place for water log storage. And I'm running out of room in my small basement shop to store in the basement.

    Thanks
    Ricc

  13. #13
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    Mar 2005
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    Elkhart, IN
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don Frank View Post
    I picked up a cheap chest freezer on Craigslist and have had good luck storing blanks, rounds etc in there without any cracking. I can cut a bunch of stuff up and freeze them and put them straight onto the lathe without thawing. Also, if i'm doing a hollow form or even a bowl that I don't have time to finish I will unscrew the chuck and put the chuck and piece in the freezer with no adverse effects. I have a small drying kiln made from an old dishwasher. It works great but only if you can completely fill the thing with green bowls and not open the door for two weeks or more. I will rough turn a stack of bowls over a week or two and put them in the freezer. When I get enough simply fill the kiln and start over. I have been playing with this for awhile with good results.
    In the past I was hesitant to start a piece of an evening if I knew that I would not get it finished up in one setting. I'm talking primarily about hollow forms. This has solved that problem because I can stop and start again at any phase.
    Don, thanks for the info. I have thought about a dishwasher kiln but my small basement shop has limited room. I'm more concerned about storing wood before I get a chance to turn in it into bowl blanks.

    Thanks
    Ricc

  14. #14
    Ricc,

    There's not much you can do to stop some many logs sections from fruit woods like Cherry & Mulberry and many oaks from splitting unless you can keep them from drying out. Suggest first turning the log blanks into cylinder rounds (like a block of cheese). Then coat them 'completely' with either melted wax or at least two layers of Anchor Seal. This will give you time to get them roughed out later. You will probably need to slightly reseal the roughed out blanks for a the final drying cycle.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Kansas City
    Posts
    921
    I've kept some ash log sections in one of those plastic patio boxes so they're not conspicuous. So far have minimal cracking after two years. I've tried to store fruitwood before and bugs get to them if covered.

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