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  #1  
Old 03-08-2010, 08:02 AM
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Default How long to wait before carving

I have started a couple sticks and have had some problems with spliting and cracking, mainly in cedar, but also in cherry. I was hoping for some advice on how to prevent cracking while the stick is drying and how long to wait for it to dry before working. Any other tips to prevent cracking would be appreciated!
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Old 03-08-2010, 02:57 PM
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Default Re: How long to wait before carving

General rule of thumb is to leave the bark on, dip the ends in melted wax, and let it sit for 1 year per inch of thickness. Should be placed in dry area, out of the sun, but with small sticks between layers so the air can circulate.

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Old 03-08-2010, 05:22 PM
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Default Re: How long to wait before carving

Wow, that's some serious patience. Follow up questions: 1 - where do you get melted wax to dip the ends? 2 - is the same length of time required for dead wood (fallen trees, etc.) 3- Is there a way to tell when they are ready to work?
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Old 03-08-2010, 08:41 PM
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Default Re: How long to wait before carving

You could melt candles, or buy the paraffin wax at the supermarket - same aisle as the pectin and other jelly-making stuff.

Dead wood should probably take less time. You can also cut your wood around Christmas time, as there is less sap in the wood in the middle of winter. As far as I know, though, the only way to tell how much moisture is in the wood is to buy a special moisture measuring device. Don't know how much they are, or where to buy, but you could try Googling for "wood moisture meter".

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Old 03-09-2010, 02:38 AM
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Default Re: How long to wait before carving

Claude is right about the drying time for wood, this assumes you want to dry it... its harder to carve dry but you run the risk of splitting as you have discovered. However there are species in which this is minimal. Alder, birch and poplar are three which come to mind. I'm sure there are others. There are also preparations you can paint on green wood that replace the water in its cells with a chemical that prevents the wood from splitting as it dries out. I've never seen the need to use it but I'm sure there are others on this site that can give you some advice if you want to go that way.

Dead wood should be ok.. it kinda depends on how long its been dead and under what circumstances it died. If its been on the ground for a while check for rot or insect infestation. This is less likely on a standing dead tree or limb, but it can still occur so you need to check. Don't be put off by the external colour of the branch. Interior grain is often enhanced by a bit of time on the ground. You'd be amazed at some of the colour found in dead wood that never appears in wood cut green, whether its been dried or not.

Moisture meters can be found at LeeValley Tools. You can find them on line. Personally I think its a bit of technical over-kill but they are there if you want them.
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Old 03-09-2010, 08:44 AM
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Default Re: How long to wait before carving

thanks both for the tips. As far as wood species go, I'm somewhat at the mercy of what grows in the woods around my house. Other than cedar and cherry that I have learned to idenitfy, I don't think I could pick out a poplar to save my life .

The cherry I have seems to crack on the ends so I'm hopeful the wax will help with that.

My biggest problem I'm sure will be having the patienience to wait a year or more before digging into a really cool stick.

Bryan
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Old 03-09-2010, 12:56 PM
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Default Re: How long to wait before carving

Here's another possibility for you:

http://owic.oregonstate.edu/pubs/peg.pdf

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Old 03-11-2010, 08:20 AM
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Default Re: How long to wait before carving

Thanks claude, but I think I prefer to stay chemical free as much as possible. I'll give the natural methods a try as it seems others have had good luck with them.
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Old 03-26-2010, 04:01 PM
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Default Re: How long to wait before carving

easy alternative to wax would be paint- latex house paint works fine, i bought a cheap quart they mixed wrong at the locak big box home center and dip both ends, leave the bark on while drying. As far as waiting, you only have to wait once if you harvest regularly, you can carve some while others are drying. I managed to collect a couple years ahead at this point (i don't carve a lot of sticks tho) Here in the frozen north wood harvested in winter starts out with less moisture than any other time of year, shortening your dry time.
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Old 03-28-2010, 10:27 AM
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Default Re: How long to wait before carving

I use tealights, remove the wick by taking the alloy bottom out and it all comes away. I then place about half a dozen of the tealights without wicks into a stainless steell small dish. Place the bowl over a very low heat ( i use the gas cooker) do not get impatient and turn the heat up it will start a fire. Once all the tealights have melted use a thick glove take the bowl outside dip the ends of the shafts into the wax. Once the wax on the shafts has gone slightly hard redip and thats all there is too it. If you have cut knots down the shafts then either use a very old small paint brush dip in the wax and paint or use a stainless steel teaspoon and drizzle the wax on the area concerened. When you have finished your work let the stainless steel bowl with wax in harden, then the next time reheat and if required top up with more tealights. It can be messy and if you get it wrong hot on the hands!!!! I have never made a Cherry stick, but I have carved small Kuksa's when the wood was green and they have all split, despite using a brown bag and Cherry chippings to season it in between carvings. Hope this helps.
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