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Thread: Does pin oak stink for the foreseeable future?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2020
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    Brooklyn NY
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    Does pin oak stink for the foreseeable future?

    Recently saw a downed oak here in South Brooklyn and had to harvest some. It is STINKY!! Been making bowls and riving chair parts for a week and it has hasnít really calmed down much.

    Anyone mess with this stuff much? Chairs legs can a little stinky but Iíd rather not have malodorous tableware.

    Thanks for any insights!

    PS Iím loving the way it turns and how quickly a thin walled bowl distorts.

  2. #2
    Pin oak is in the red oak family and the heartwood does stink on really old trees. Luckily the smell goes away once it's completely dry and, thus, the volatile compounds have evaporated. You can boil rough turned oak bowls outside in a turkey fryer pot for an hour or two to speed up drying and lower the chances of cracking. Boiling can cut the drying time in half and might help remove some of the volatile compounds.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2007
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    Boil in water or peanut oil?
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  4. #4
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    Oct 2020
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    Thanks Karl. Figured it must stop off gassing at some point. Good to know about the boiling trick.

    This was indeed a pretty old tree by my estimation. It was between a shorter parksí building and project housing. The park building was built in the 30s so I assume the tree was planted around then. It was roughly 36Ē diameter and 100Ē tall. I mostly just took limbs that had the pith centered. Biggest vehicle I own is a subaru forester. May go back with the sledge and wedge at some point. I bet itís gonna be there for a bit.

    Dear gawd does it still to the high heavens. Rusted my lathe bed already too. Will probably just dedicate the rest to spindles. Seems a downed maple can be found once a month or so, and thats much more pleasant for vessels.
    Last edited by chuck van dyck; 02-03-2023 at 9:52 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2021
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    Columbia MO and Howard County MO
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    I sort of like the smell but have not tried it for green turning. It is a nostalgic part of cutting fire wood and saw logs. It is often called Jack Oak and Water Oak by local old-timers, and is not highly regarded.
    Some consider oak funk to be a good thing (when making single malt whiskey or claret wine).
    Missouri, it's not that bad. Best Regards, Maurice

  6. #6
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    I rather liked the smell of red oak when cutting firewood. Even the smell of kiln dried oak when cut is unique and pleasant in my opinion. The tannic acid in green wood will certainly cause staining on bare iron almost immediately and rust will quickly form as well. It is these same tannin materials that gives wine and whiskey their characteristic "oakiness".
    Now some elms, on the other hand, smell terrible in green state. I have heard it referred as "urine" elm (just not that exact word...but most folks will understand).

  7. #7
    Red oak does have that certain stench. I get truck loads of red oak 4 x 4 cut offs from a local mill and stack it in the barn to dry. The initial strong odor lasts a couple weeks. For turning that odor lasts as long as the wood is damp inside. I turned a couple pieces of green oak a few weeks ago and turned some red cedar and sassafras (smells like the spice cloves) which covered up the smell of the oak shavings. Some people don't like the odor of green black walnut. Last week, I turned some kiln dried yellow pine, the whole shop smelled great.

  8. #8
    Boil in water. Never heard of anyone frying wood, but that would be an interesting but expensive experiment to try outside.

  9. #9
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    We have a pair of wooden cloths pin that I use to hold tortillas closed to make tacos. They are becoming more and more attractive each time they go in the hot oil. I hope the steel and wood are fairly non toxic.
    Missouri, it's not that bad. Best Regards, Maurice

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2020
    Location
    Brooklyn NY
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    Happy to say it has more or less stopped stinking, at least relative to prior. It actually turns quite nicely in this state for the type of turning I like to do. For branch wood it has riven pretty nicely as well.
    3B307772-BA33-4315-A0CA-5A1AFBC436AD.jpg31126C60-5CCE-49C7-B39D-44CB05842FE8.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images

  11. #11
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    Wet white oak stinks too. Mine are some pretty big bowl blanks. I doubt they're dry all the way through, but at least they've stopped smelling so bad.
    Where did I put that tape measure...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2021
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Herrmann View Post
    Wet white oak stinks too.
    I thought of this thread while looking at a tree book last week. White Oak Stink (aging) is required by law for US Bourbon to be legitimate Bourbon. Here is a fair use portion.

    IMG_1327.jpg
    Last edited by Maurice Mcmurry; 03-06-2023 at 6:19 PM.
    Missouri, it's not that bad. Best Regards, Maurice

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