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Thread: Wax coated boxwood and African Blackwood

  1. #1
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    Wax coated boxwood and African Blackwood

    Hello,

    I posted this in another forum but thought maybe I might find more help here. Please excuse the cross posting.

    . I was wondering what you all can tell me regarding storing super dense woods like true boxwood, and African Blackwood, etc. I have a handful of boxwood pieces that I purchased a couple of years ago that came to me fully waxed. The wood was mostly, if not entirely dry, and I've simply stored them as is since then. I'm beginning to think, however, that maybe this isn't the best idea. For those of you who know, is it ok that I've been storing them fully encased in wax? Am I greatly inhibiting them fully drying by doing so?

    If you think I should remove the wax, do you have any good ideas on how to go about this? The pieces aren't perfectly flat or jointed, and so scraping them wouldn't be easy. Should I try to use newspaper and an iron and try to melt most of it off?

    I also have a few pieces of African Blackwood that came to me fully encased in wax. Is this the best way to store it? Should I also remove the wax? Is the wax there simply to help keep these super dense woods from developing checks? They're fully dry from what I gather.

    Any advice and insight would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks very much,

    David

  2. #2
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    I brush melted wax on the end grain of boards Iím drying as the ends will dry and check, way before the rest of the board is dry, as in years.

    Covering the whole board in wax slows water vapour movement down such that grain direction should be irrelevant. For very hard woods where drying takes far longer it should reduce checking. Great way to store wood that is dry against annual humidity swings, my shop goes from 20% to 95% each year.

    I have a lump of rosewood I bought covered in wax 35 years ago, it looks exactly the same today. Leave the wax on, when you cut and plane it, it will be gone.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  3. #3
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    Don't claim to know the best way. The wax will slow down but not stop moisture movement so even fully waxed it will still dry to EMC eventually. Removing some or all will speed up the drying. The most chance of checking is in the first part of the drying cycle so after the moisture is reduced considerably I'll remove a lot of the wax.

    I have a lot of dense exotics and most come dipped in paraffin. All local woods I cut green (some fairly dense like persimmon or dogwood) get a coat of thickened Anchorseal on at least the endgrain and sometimes on the sides if needed. Domestic or exotic, I find the easiest way to track the drying is by weight - weigh the piece and write the weight in grams and date on a piece of tape stuck to the block. I use a good digital scale. Periodically reweigh, perhaps every month or so, and watch how the weight changes. When the weight quits (or if the weight starts going up again due to the seasonal humidity changing) it's dry. I don't track the weight of each blank but just representative samples. For example, if I have five blocks of the same species I might track one or two and assume the others of the same or smaller cross section are drying at the same rate.

    For example, I have several heavily waxed pieces of 6x6x4" Olivewood that are still not dry after two years; some smaller local blocks are dry.

    drying-olive.jpg drying_tracking.jpg

    If you want to know the exact moisture content and enough pieces of similar size from the same "batch" you can remove a small slice from the center of one and use the oven dry method: https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....ven-dry-method
    I got a number of 1x1x12" pieces of ebony that were waxed and on checking found they were at the expected moisture for air dried wood in this part of the country.

    It's difficult to remove wax completely except by cutting it off. I often use a card scraper to remove most of thick wax. If the sides are roughsawn it's not possible to get all the wax but I can get most of it. For thick paraffin I sometimes heat the wax quickly with a torch or heat gun and wipe it off with a paper towel. (doesn't heat the wood enough to affect it) After drying I sometimes take a thin slice off the ends of a dry block with the bandsaw to test for checking.

    BTW, I think the best way to store blanks of unknown moisture is on wire shelves with plenty of air space around each block. If I have to stack I put thinner pieces of wood between to act like stickers. I visited a gentleman once who stacked a huge number of blocks tightly on solid shelves. I imagined those with blanks stacked tightly all around staying wet for a long time.

    JKJ

  4. #4
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    Boxwood is pretty hard to dry, without getting a bunch of microscopic cracking. It needs to be dried as slow as possible. I remember George Wilson saying they used to bury it under horse manure for a hundred years.

    I have some that dried standing, and some cut green I kept wrapped in plastic. Some of both has the micro-checking, but is still very useful for shop tooling, and wear parts on planes.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the replies and info. I looked up the George Wilson thread — fascinating! I guess I’ll keep what I have waxed. In fact, I may further wax a couple of very large pieces I recently stumbled upon. One of which is 4” square! From what I understand it had been felled in 1986 and has been drying in log form ever since. It was just broken down into billets a couple weeks ago. The ends have been waxed, but now I’m thinking a full bees waxing might be in order until I end up using it. I’d hate to see it develop any checks. Thanks, everyone!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Wadstrup View Post
    ...Iím thinking a full bees waxing might be in order until I end up using it. Iíd hate to see it develop any checks.
    Iíve never heard of sealing wood with bees wax. Does it seal the better, the same, or less than paraffin?

    Could it be itís not used as much because of the high cost?

    JKJ

  7. #7
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    Hmmmmm..... that’s a good question. I hadn’t considered the differences. I only thought bee’s wax because I have a supply of it, but no paraffin. It may be more porous than paraffin, but that might not be such a bad thing in my circumstances. I’d be interested to learn whether others have thoughts or experiences of the differences.

  8. #8
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    This Boxwood tooling piece, for a muntin coping sled, has the microscopic checking. I think theorists make more of it than it really matters.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  9. #9
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    I did think of one reason against bee’s wax — mice. I had a couple of blocks in storage that weren’t wrapped in any way and the mice went to town on them. I’d hate to end up with gnaw marks in my boxwood so will go the paraffin route, I think.

    is there a consensus of opinion as to whether I should wax the faces of these billets? The end grain has all been waxed. Should I use something thinner on the faces, like a polymerized oil or poly or something that will slow moisture transfer a little but not completely? I’d hate to see this stuff check?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Wadstrup View Post
    I did think of one reason against beeís wax ó mice. I had a couple of blocks in storage that werenít wrapped in any way and the mice went to town on them. Iíd hate to end up with gnaw marks in my boxwood so will go the paraffin route, I think.

    is there a consensus of opinion as to whether I should wax the faces of these billets? The end grain has all been waxed. Should I use something thinner on the faces, like a polymerized oil or poly or something that will slow moisture transfer a little but not completely? Iíd hate to see this stuff check?
    Don't know about consensus but here's an opinion.

    I sometimes wax the faces, depending:
    - faces of certain woods that contain both heartwood and sapwood when I know they dry at much different rates (e.g., dogwood)
    - highly figured wood (burl, crotch)
    - for faces nearly parallel to the rings on the outside of the tree - the most likely place to develop cracks in the initial drying of very wet wood

    But usually I don't seal the faces.
    When cutting blanks from sopping wet wood I do keep an eye on the initial drying whether the sides are sealed or not. If I notice cracks developing anywhere I cut away down to good wood and wax/rewax. If a crack is deep by the time I notice it I sometimes just saw down the crack. I'd rather have a smaller blanks than blanks with deep or uncontrolled cracking.

    Note that this is all for green domestic wood I've cut from logs. I'm usually not concerned with the faces of wood that is partially dried since the biggest risk is in the initial drying. (Always seal end grain though.)

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post
    All local woods I cut green (some fairly dense like persimmon or dogwood) get a coat of thickened Anchorseal on at least the endgrain and sometimes on the sides if needed.

    JKJ
    John, this is the first I've heard of thickened Anchorseal. Can you give some details? How do you thicken it? What's the advantage vs normal, as received viscosity?

    Thanks.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bunge View Post
    John, this is the first I've heard of thickened Anchorseal. Can you give some details? How do you thicken it? What's the advantage vs normal, as received viscosity?

    Thanks.
    Dave,

    The thickened Anchorseal simply goes on thicker and leaves a thicker coat of wax. This is something I've been doing for years. I especially like it for very wet wood to further slow the drying. It's almost as good as dipping in hot paraffin but without all the trouble and hazard!

    At first I tried two coats of Anchorseal out of the can, but the second coat never worked well since the water in the second cost of Anchorseal didn't stick well to dried wax of the first coat.

    I learned to thicken the Anchorseal simply by letting some of the water dry out before use. To thicken, I simply pour an inch or so in the a plastic coffee can and leave the lid off overnight or so until the some of the water evaporates and gives me the thickness I want! One coat of the thickened Anchorseal applies a thicker coat than the right out of the jug. I've been doing this for many years, even since I bought a 55-gal drum directly from UC Coatings. The thickened stuff is not much good for spraying at the sawmill but I think it is perfect for protecting wood blanks from green wood. (I mostly process blanks to dry for woodturning)

    [ambrosia_maple_IMG_20171202_175922_594.jpg

    I use a plastic Folgers coffee can and store a cheap disposable brush in the can that will fit with the lid closed. (if the brush handle is too long I cut a bit off the end.) I leave the brush in the can all the time - I use the same brush for years and it never needs to be cleaned, I just wipe it off on the rim of the can. The Folger can is great since it has indentations for finger grips molded into the sides.



    JKJ

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Wadstrup View Post
    Hello,

    I posted this in another forum but thought maybe I might find more help here. Please excuse the cross posting.

    . I was wondering what you all can tell me regarding storing super dense woods like true boxwood, and African Blackwood, etc. I have a handful of boxwood pieces that I purchased a couple of years ago that came to me fully waxed. The wood was mostly, if not entirely dry, and I've simply stored them as is since then. I'm beginning to think, however, that maybe this isn't the best idea. For those of you who know, is it ok that I've been storing them fully encased in wax? Am I greatly inhibiting them fully drying by doing so?

    If you think I should remove the wax, do you have any good ideas on how to go about this? The pieces aren't perfectly flat or jointed, and so scraping them wouldn't be easy. Should I try to use newspaper and an iron and try to melt most of it off?

    I also have a few pieces of African Blackwood that came to me fully encased in wax. Is this the best way to store it? Should I also remove the wax? Is the wax there simply to help keep these super dense woods from developing checks? They're fully dry from what I gather.

    Any advice and insight would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks very much,

    David
    I found this on the UC Coatings web site.
    Anchorseal comes in two "flavors", the original and a newer formula Anchorseal 2. I have experience only with the original. I've read several reports from those who tried Anchorseal 2 and didn't like it as much. However, they may have been protecting very wet domestic wood instead of exotics. If you ever need to apply sealer, say on freshly cut end grain, I wonder if this would work better than the original Anchorseal for your use.

    https://uccoatings.com/products/anchorseal-2/

    ANCHORSEAL 2 is best-in-class for the protection of exotic hardwood decking. When carefully applied to the freshly cut ends of tropical hardwoods, such as ipe, Brazilian walnut, mahogany and tigerwood, ANCHORSEAL 2 prevents up to 90% of end checking, protecting your investment and extending the life of the deck.

    JKJ

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