Recently, I obtained some logs, about 8″ diameter, to be used in some lathe projects. I tried a section right away but overnight the wood split, making it useless. Obviously the wood was too green. Since then, I’ve been told to paint the ends of the logs and give them about a year to stabilize before use. Is this the answer to my problem?
John Swanson: As soon as freshly cut logs are exposed to air, end checking will occur. In some species, it can continue at a rapid rate. Apply end grain sealer to the log as soon as you can. If you do not have end grain sealer, apply a thick coat of latex paint. As soon as possible, cut the log into workable lengths, applying sealer to all end grain. Then rip the log through the pith (heartwood). For spindle work, rip the log into slabs that are 15% thicker than needed. Cut away all sapwood. If making bowls or platters, cut off all end checked material. Cut the log into lengths that are 2-4″ longer than the diameter. Rough turn to a the thickness 10-20% of the diameter. (A 10″ bowl should be 1-1 1/4″ thick) Seal all the end grain with end grain sealer. It will take at least 9 months for the wood to stabilize: then it can be finished.
Cal Brodie: Eliminate the pith. Seal the ends with paint, log sealer, or wax. When you turn green, rough turn wall thickness to about 10% of the diameter of the bowl and then paint, wax, or seal the bowl in a plastic bag to slow down the drying process. Of course if you want a warped bowl, turn the green wall thickness thin and let the bowl dry.