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Thread: Air drying maple slices

  1. #1
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    Default Air drying maple slices

    I've inherited a half dozen slices of maple from my father's property. I'm not sure, but I believe it is Red Maple. I have no idea what I'm going to use them for, but I'm curious about how long it will take to air dry. I understand the rule of thumb for slabs is around 1 year per inch depending on climate. But since these are round slices with end grain on top and bottom, I would assume they will dry much faster.

    Does anyone have thoughts on how long I should expect air drying to take. The slices range from 4.5 to 6 inches in thickness. I appreciate any thoughts.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Air drying maple slices

    Can you weigh them really accurately? When they stop getting lighter they are dry.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Air drying maple slices

    When you say slices, do you mean round slices like firewood, ~6” long?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Air drying maple slices

    Regarding "slices" - they are "rounds" or "cookies" (I've heard another few names as well). They are crosswise cuts from the trunk with bark all the way around (although I have debarked most of them) - I have various diameters but they range from around 30" across the face in the smaller ones to 48" across in the largest slices. They vary in thickness from 4.5 inches in the smaller ones to a full 6" in the largest - and no, I can't lift a 6" inch think and 48" diameter slice of maple.

    I will be able to borrow a moisture meter to confirm when they are dry - I'm just trying to get a feel for whether that will be 1 year or 6 years from now.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Air drying maple slices

    Hit em with the moisture meter now, then again in 6 months. That should give you a good idea on the rate of drying. What did you seal the cut faces with? Unsealed those rounds will check big time.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Air drying maple slices

    End grain will dry faster, which is why you have to seal the end grain on slabs. This is impure guesswork, but based on very limited reading, one to two months per inch. Maple isn't very porous, so it ought to be a bit slower and less responsive to crack preventive treatment chemicals.

    The slabs will crack unless you do something right away. They will probably still crack, but there are ways to reduce or repair cracking.

    First thing to do to buy some time before you decide what to do, what to use, get the stuff to use, etc. is bag them to stop them from drying and cracking. Use a trash bag or wrap them in plastic. Some disinfectant like borax or Lysol will prevent mold while you figure out what to do. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) has been used for a long time and there is something called Pentacryl that has been recommended.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnV4uYlEr9I

    https://www.woodworkingnetwork.com/b...ut-cracking-it

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Air drying maple slices

    Pentacryl is the name of what I was looking for - thanks for the reminder, MN Dave!! And for those who commented on this, I'm prepared for checking and cracking - that may become an opportunity to try my Dutchman or bowtie skills.

    I was hoping for one or two months per inch but couldn't find any reputable source to back that up. I'm assuming you are reputable, MN Dave.

    Thanks all.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Air drying maple slices

    The rounds will crack from outside right into the pith and you can't stop it unless you use something like polyethylene glycol. The cracks will be fairly wide out at the outer diameter. Since the wood will have shrunk, the cracks can't be closed after drying. Butterflys or bowties are useless in this situation.

    If it were me and I couldn't soak them in PEG, I'd cut each in half right now, let them dry then splice back together. There'll be an inconsistency, but you'll be in charge.

    PEG will work wonders but there are trade offs. Best to do some research.

    Good luck

    Jeff

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Air drying maple slices

    I don't know FA about PEG,but I agree 100% with Jeff, otherwise.
    R
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Air drying maple slices

    Quote Originally Posted by jpatrick View Post
    The rounds will crack from outside right into the pith and you can't stop it unless you use something like polyethylene glycol. The cracks will be fairly wide out at the outer diameter. Since the wood will have shrunk, the cracks can't be closed after drying. Butterflys or bowties are useless in this situation.

    If it were me and I couldn't soak them in PEG, I'd cut each in half right now, let them dry then splice back together. There'll be an inconsistency, but you'll be in charge.

    PEG will work wonders but there are trade offs. Best to do some research.

    Good luck

    Jeff
    Look at them as 6" long firewood, 1 year sounds about right.

    Yes, you are going to get huge checks, and butterflies will be a total waste of time.

    If you can totally saturate them in PEG, all the way through, you stand some small chance of preventing checking, but you will have to do that right now, today. Until then store them very wet, packed in saturated sawdust in plastic for instance. Whatever you use to keep them wet will have to be of a higher moisture content than the rounds themselves.

    If you cut them in half they will still shrink, and probably still check, and when you put them back together you will have to straighten the sawn edges which will remove a good deal of the heart center. A joint like that will be very obvious. The same will happen if you quarter them, but it might look better reassembled, and quartered they will be less likely to check.

    I'm not too sure that you can glue wood saturated in PEG, could be though.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Air drying maple slices

    Like others have said, I would't get your hopes up that you end up with usable pieces of lumber. Have you ever noticed that you rarely, if ever, see furniture made out of whole cross sections of logs? Such a section would seem to make a great table top or seat of a stool. The problem is that when wood dries the shrinkage is greater tangentially than radially. Large checks are inevitable hence the lack of log section furniture.

    What you have sounds like great stock for turning bowls, plates, etc. If you didn't know already, green wood is great for turning.
    Last edited by Dusty Yevsky; 11-27-2017 at 01:47 PM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Air drying maple slices

    Quote Originally Posted by BKay View Post
    Pentacryl is the name of what I was looking for - thanks for the reminder, MN Dave!! And for those who commented on this, I'm prepared for checking and cracking - that may become an opportunity to try my Dutchman or bowtie skills.

    I was hoping for one or two months per inch but couldn't find any reputable source to back that up. I'm assuming you are reputable, MN Dave.

    Thanks all.
    I have a big round like those, old and dry and cracked right across, but wider at the pith and still connected at the bark. I too will be using butterflys to stabilise the crack when I refinish it and build some legs for it.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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