Question about curing wood.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by JimiLL, Apr 29, 2012.

  1. I have a firewood business, and just brought home an OLD sugar maple... it was about 4' across at the base. Also Im gonna be bringing back some really nice 2' dia strait grained cherry a little later in the year.

    Im thinking I want to have a bass body built out of these.... maple in the center capped with cherry front and back.

    My question is whats the best way to treat (handle) the wood in the meantime? Im cutting some 4" thick slabs so it will be all billet pieces....
  2. I would highly recommend some "anchorseal" to treat the ends and prevent any "checking" The original formula is far superior to the newer store bought stuff.

    Ive found both these woods like to change in color when in contact with sunlight so recommend keeping em dry and out of direct light as they dry.

    Havnt worked a ton of maple but it seems fairly stable when sealed up. Ive found cherry likes to cup a bit..especially closer to the "bark" side of the log..Ive found those slabs close to the pith (pith cut out) to be real stable. Im actually looking at doing something identical to what you describe. I will say cherry appears to be quite heavy so some chambering may be required.

    Sugar maple seems to yield some of the quilt and tiger figuring. id poke around the logs closest to the trunk and see if you have anything cool going on..Also any "crotches" should yield some good feathering.
  3. Where could I get some of this Anchorseal you speak of?
  4. JoeDeF


    Apr 15, 2009
    It will be a very heavy bass unless you chamber it (a definite possibility to consider).

    It will take several years to dry 4" thick wood. I am not saying not to do it, but rather to be realistic about when you will finally be ready to do the build(s). If you can wait years, then go for it - you will have more flexibility down the road with thicker wood.

    Another thing to consider is that thicker woods tend to check (crack) more, since there is more wood area undergoing changes in tension as it dries with no outlet for that tension (the cut surfaces of the thinner cuts tend to give more, leading to cupping and warping, but somewhat less checking). Think about what happens when you cut a log in half right down the middle: over time, the end of it goes from looking like half of a pie to about 3/7 of a pie, often accompanied by checking (although no one got to eat any pie, unfortunately:bawl:).

    Since you obviously have the tools to render the lumber, you can also think about quartersawing some for nice ray fleck if you like that look.

    Do seal the ends well. Also be sure to sticker it well, and think about the best storage area for it.


    Buy Anchorseal 2 Green Wood Sealer Quart at Woodcraft

    I do envy your apparently plentiful supply of domestic hardwoods, and wish you the best with both harvesting your own lumber and with your eventual bass build(s).
  5. I'd saw it in 1" thick slabs,either way cure them a minimum of a year per inch of thickness.I've had some cherry,walnut and oak sawn for me,they sealed the ends with latex paint and I didn't have any end splitting in case you have problems finding the Anchorseal that was recommended.I stickered mine in my basement with my de-humidifier set for 40% right next to the stack.
  6. tjclem

    tjclem Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Wouldn't you want the Cherry in 8/4 thickness for bodies?
  7. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Inactive

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Have it kiln dried. Otherwise, you're looking at 7-20 years of air drying.

    Get it cut to 6/4 on the Maple and 4/4 on the Cherry if you are planning to laminate them. If not, then Tom's right with 8/4.
  8. How long does kiln drying take?
  9. Kiln drying typically cuts the drying time in half. So Id say 8-12 months minimum. You can get creative and build your own if your talking a small amount of lumber. Ive seen simple setups using an old fridge and a heater. You can also build a solar kiln but bring in the sunlight/ uv factor. From what i read kiln drying will affect the color some as well as strength to some degree.

    Anchorseal can be bought here :

    You can get the newer stuff (anchorseal 2) at woodcraft or other woodworking supply stores but i find it to be lower in quality. Apparently the newer stuff is water based vs. the older which is oil based. Just coat the fresh cut ends and recoat if needed. i find 1 coat is good if I keep the wood out of the elements. It will not stop wood that had begun to recommend coating before that happens.
  10. JayGunn

    JayGunn Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2010
    Chapel Hill NC
    Kiln drying takes from a few days to a few weeks depending on the schedule and how dry the wood is to start with. Normally wood is air dried for some months at least before putting it in the kiln.

    When you get it dry, bring it inside where you have heat or a/c, don't leave it in the garage our outside. If it stays outside after drying, bring it in for at least 2-3 weeks before using it.

    The moisture content of the wood will adjust to about 1/5 of the average relative humidity. So in the garage (in NC at least) it'll rise or fall to about 12-14%. When you bring it in, if your house is at 50% humidity it'll gradually drop to 10%, which is a much better moisture content to work with. Ideally, you'd drop it to 8%, which is what it'll end up at if you use the KramerDon method (above) which is to keep a dehumidifier in the room with it and get the room m.c. down to about 40%.

    The big problem with not having the wood dry enough when you start to build is that the glue joints you create when you edge glue two boards together will tend to split open at the ends if the wood is drying in your shop as you glue it. This happens because wood always dries faster at the ends of the boards, since moisture can escape quickly from the cut ends of the wood fibers at the end grain. The ends shrink before the middle does and the glue line opens at each end. That's why sealing the ends of the planks will reduce splitting in the green wood. (You can also use 2 coats of polyurethane on the end grain.)

    BTW you'll find that cherry, dry, weighs a lot less than rock maple.
  11. I think we're under the assumption this wood will be cut and fell living and thus would be in a green state. I would not expect it to take less than a year from start to finish. Remember rushing the process will not benefit anything..especially regarding wood as each species dries differently.. I have some 1/2" or less cherry dry right now that took about 3 months but the tree was partially dead.

    You are correct in the drying and why anchorseal is a must to slow the drying from the ends down and force the moisture up through the center....again make sure the pith is long gone.

    Ive made a makeshift setup with a dehumidifier in my closet and still find that it takes several months and some movement to get it where I want it.

    To the OP... There is a market out there for green sealed wood. Im into lathe work and most turners find green wood desirable. I would encourage you to make the most use of the tree(s)...including the bark ends of the logs. Sugar maple can yield some neat results... have fun and be safe! :bassist:
  12. garmenteros

    garmenteros Bass Enthusiast

    Aug 24, 2008
    Dominican Republic
    A bit off topic... I found a huge chunk of wood on the street that was too heavy for the local garbage truck to take care of... The electric company chopped it down because it was messing and interfering with some wiring. I stopped and beat it heavily and when I noticed it was hard as a rock I decided to take it. That and the fact that cutting down trees is illegal here and I don't support the stripping of the forests made me want to do it. One mans trash another's treasure. It must be in the 300 to 400 pound range so I borrowed a truck and gave my friends some gin so they helped me with it. Its pretty dry on the outside and I still need some pics after I took it to a local wood shop... but I'll upload them later when I get home...

    Its going to become a headless 5 string, a couple of guitars and who knows what else...
  13. garmenteros

    garmenteros Bass Enthusiast

    Aug 24, 2008
    Dominican Republic

    After going through a couple of machines...

    Side View

    I was able to manage to salvage another piece maybe for a body...

    The long boards are roughly 50 inches long by about 14 to 17 inches wide and about 3.5 inches thick...
  14. Meatrus


    Apr 5, 2009
    Thats a great story, if its got Gin in it, it has to be! Any idea what wood it is? A Palm?
  15. garmenteros

    garmenteros Bass Enthusiast

    Aug 24, 2008
    Dominican Republic
    I'm not sure, anyone here have any suggestions... ? most common wood types here are mahogany, oak and we have some acacia (koa) and walnut as well. Those are my closest guesses. Its really hard.
  16. Color looks like mahogany but cant tell 100%. Did this tree have any bark?
  17. garmenteros

    garmenteros Bass Enthusiast

    Aug 24, 2008
    Dominican Republic
    Yeah, the first couple of pictures you can tell... Doesn't smell like mahogany though...