wood for carving stock.


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Tune_up
March 4, 2009, 05:19 PM
Not sure where I should post this or if anybody can help.
A couple of years ago a storm up-rooted a large black walnut on my property, I left it lay until it wasn't fit to carve/use in any way and it's bothered me ever since. A couple of weeks ago the same thing happened. I want to save the "stump" and try to carve a stock (or may have one carved) but need advise on how to treat/prepare the wood. At this point I am planning on leaving most of the roots on 4 foot of the base and remove as much dirt as possible. Paint the cut surface with latex paint to prevent cracking and storing in a barn for at least a couple of years. I would like to be able to decrease the size considerably to make it easier to handle but not knowing how to handle the wood I am afraid it will crack and all will be lost.
Any suggestions/advise or source of information would be appreciated

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Hans Esker
March 5, 2009, 04:48 AM
I am new at wood also, but here is my $.02

Ok if it is cracked already, you are pretty much screwed.

IMMEDIATELY get your hands on some wax, (any sort will do; beeswax from the craft store, or parafin wax from the canning section at the grocer or general store or hardware store, or what have you (the significant other will be mad if you use her good dining table candles or scented candles)), and coat the cut surfaces with that. You will need a double boiler setup to do so. The reason you use wax is because it is wicked up into the grain of the wood and will keep water from escaping too quickly that way. (I learned this the hard way myself by attempting to use a tar based vehicle undercoating from a spraycan for this purpose, which did not work at all.)

The reason the wood cracks is it is drying unevenly, and you have to plug up the pores that are the fastest escape for the water. It would be best if you could cut it up now and then coat the endgrain with wax. I don't know how long you need to season it.

Reminds me of the time in the craft store there was crude beeswax that still had bees and bee parts in it!

Tune_up
March 6, 2009, 06:43 PM
I appreciate your response. I had heard that using the latex paint would do the same thing but will go ahead and use wax. Thanks again

rcmodel
March 6, 2009, 06:59 PM
It is not as simple as it seems. Stock blanks are generally sawn from the log, and then air dried for a period of years.

I used to go the the Fajen & Bishop stock factories in Warsaw MO years ago, and they had warehouses full of drying stock blank "planks" waiting to be shaped into stocks eventually.

I don't know how long it would take to properly dry a whole section of log with the roots attached.
But it would be way longer then I have time left to wait on it, cause I'm already 65 years old now.

There is some very good info here:
http://www.oldtreegunblanks.com/how.shtml

rc

frogomatic
March 6, 2009, 07:58 PM
what RC said, it takes 3-5 years for a piece of wood to cure properly for it to be usefull as a gunstock.

Sam1911
March 6, 2009, 08:58 PM
The general rule of thumb we use for air drying wood is 1 year per inch of thickness.

If you can get it sawn to rough size (I'd say 1.5x to 2x the size you intend to end up with) it will dry quite a bit faster than leaving it in the round.

You might be able to find someone local with a Woodmizer-type portable sawmill who could come cut it for you. Might not be cheap, but it would be the best way to get something useful out of it. I have milled small logs with a chainsaw before. It's a lot of work, and would be easier with a "ripping" chain than the standard crosscut felling chain.

Backyard trees are often not as useful as forest trees. Trees that grow in a dense forest grow more slowly and end up with denser wood (closer growth rings), which is what you want for highest strength and quality. They also generally tend to develop low branches less than trees that grow in the open where the sun hits on all sides. Branches on a live tree = knots in the lumber, and that makes it useless for furniture or gun-stock purposes.

Waxing or painting the end grain is done to slow the rate of moisture transfer (drying) out of the open pores so that the wood drys evenly. If you can force the wood to shed moisture through all surfaces evenly, you reduce the chances of checking (that's the cracks you're describing). But don't look for miracles. If there are internal stresses in the tree, it will open up.

-Sam

ndh87
March 6, 2009, 09:03 PM
the best thing to do would be to get the stump you want to make the stock from and set it in your basement (or other cool dry place) up on a couple of blocks so its off the ground and let it dry for a year or so. My dad used to do this to make table tops.

Hk91-762mm
March 6, 2009, 09:20 PM
The nra news interviewed a custom gun maker who cuts his own trees --He said he cures the blanks for 3 years.
My Bro. Make custom Stringed instruments he lets the 2in thick blanks set for 2 years.
Id coat the ends with Spar varnish Mixed with linseed oil

fpack
March 7, 2009, 01:01 AM
I started "flitching" wood 40+ years ago. Great fun at low cost! The above posts include lots of good ideas. Here are a few more.

Wood is like a bundle of straws. Cut the wood and you open the ends of the straws, allowing water to escape fast. As the ends dry and shrink, they must check (crack). Once checked, wood doesn't heal. The best way to stop water loss from the ends is to put some wax (remnants of candles work great) into a can and put that into another pan with water and heat it. Sacrifice a paint brush and use it to paint the ends of your wood with the melted wax. That isn't good enough - the wax sits on the surface, flakes off, doesn't seal well, etc. Take a propane torch and gently heat the coating of wax. It will puddle and flow into the wood, turning clear. Only heat it enough to allow the wax to flow into the wood. You end up with wood that looks like it has been varnished. This treatment seals the ends very well.

When wood dries it hardly shrinks at all from end to end, but wood shrinks plenty across the growth rings and around the growth rings. Rip the wood into planks of whatever thickness you'll need, but leave some extra thickness to allow for shrinkage, resawing, planing, etc. The center of the limb or trunk, where the annual rings make little circles, is often discarded by wood misers. It generally checks, so use it for firewood.

If you want to follow the progress of your wood as it seasons, weigh the flitch and write the date and the weight on the side of the wood with a permanent black marker pen. I stand the wood on a bathroom scales to weigh it. Every so often, reweigh the flitch, and write the new weight on the wood. When the wood stops losing weight, it might be seasoned. If you have a number of pieces from one batch, you only need to weigh and follow the progress of one piece, assuming the other are stored in the same conditions.

If the wood was stored in an outbuilding and then you move it into a heated house, it will lose more water as it reaches equilibrium with the humidity in your house. Best to let that happen before you make the gunstock, than to find out later that the wood-to-metal fit suffered after you brought the firearm into a heated house.

If you don't weigh the wood, allow 1-2 years per inch of thickness

With a precious piece of wood, the best way to season it is to stand it on end in total shade, where air can get to all sides of the wood. Wood in sunshine and wind will dry faster and unevenly, causing more checks to form as stresses are set up between areas of different moisture levels. If the wood is sawn into planks, you can stack the wood horizontally, but "sticker" it (put 1" strips of wood between layers to allow for air flow and moisture loss).

I get at a piece of wood the day the tree hits the ground, ripping it with my chainsaw or hiring someone with a bandsaw mill to do the job. I discard the very center of the limb or trunk. If you have the time and energy, remove the bark. Beetle larvae are more likely to enter the wood if the bark is on.

Air dried wood is a real pleasure to work with, and if you harvested and seasoned the wood yourself, it adds some soul to your project. Have fun.

fpack
March 7, 2009, 01:08 AM
I started "flitching" wood 40+ years ago. Great fun at low cost! The above posts include lots of good ideas. Here are a few more.

Wood is like a bundle of straws. Cut the wood and you open the ends of the straws, allowing water to escape fast. As the ends dry and shrink, they must check (crack). Once checked, wood doesn't heal. The best way to stop water loss from the ends is to put some wax (remnants of candles work great) into a can and put that into another pan with water and heat it. Sacrifice a paint brush and use it to paint the ends of your wood with the melted wax. That isn't good enough - the wax sits on the surface, flakes off, doesn't seal well, etc. Take a propane torch and gently heat the coating of wax. It will puddle and flow into the wood, turning clear. Only heat it enough to allow the wax to flow into the wood. You end up with wood that looks like it has been varnished. This treatment seals the ends very well.

When wood dries it hardly shrinks at all from end to end, but wood shrinks plenty across the growth rings and around the growth rings. Rip the wood into planks of whatever thickness you'll need, but leave some extra thickness to allow for shrinkage, resawing, planing, etc. The center of the limb or trunk, where the annual rings make little circles, is often discarded by wood misers. It generally checks, so use it for firewood.

If you want to follow the progress of your wood as it seasons, weigh the flitch and write the date and the weight on the side of the wood with a permanent black marker pen. I stand the wood on a bathroom scales to weigh it. Every so often, reweigh the flitch, and write the new weight on the wood. When the wood stops losing weight, it might be seasoned. If you have a number of pieces from one batch, you only need to weigh and follow the progress of one piece, assuming the other are stored in the same conditions.

If the wood was stored in an outbuilding and then you move it into a heated house, it will lose more water as it reaches equilibrium with the humidity in your house. Best to let that happen before you make the gunstock, than to find out later that the wood-to-metal fit suffered after you brought the firearm into a heated house.

If you don't weigh the wood, allow 1-2 years per inch of thickness

With a precious piece of wood, the best way to season it is to stand it on end in total shade, where air can get to all sides of the wood. Wood in sunshine and wind will dry faster and unevenly, causing more checks to form as stresses are set up between areas of different moisture levels. If the wood is sawn into planks, you can stack the wood horizontally, but "sticker" it (put 1" strips of wood between layers to allow for air flow and moisture loss).

I get at a piece of wood the day the tree hits the ground, ripping it with my chainsaw or hiring someone with a bandsaw mill to do the job. I discard the very center of the limb or trunk. If you have the time and energy, remove the bark. Beetle larvae are more likely to enter the wood if the bark is on.

Air dried wood is a real pleasure to work with, and if you harvested and seasoned the wood yourself, it adds some soul to your project. Have fun.

If you enjoyed reading about "wood for carving stock." here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!