How to Transform Found Wood Into Usable Stock
5 Key Steps Continued
4. At this point, you have some decision-making to do. If you want to make turning squares or bowl blanks with the wood, simply surface the fourth edge by running it through the saw again. Then, cut the material to the desired configurations. If we had chosen to, we could have ripped the chunk shown in Photo 3, on the previous page, into several turning squares. Or, we could have crosscut it into a few bowl blanks. If you want to produce some flat stock, however, we recommend that you spend some time deciding which edge of the material to cut your boards from. Why? Because how you do it will affect the appearance of your boards. As you can see by looking at Drawing A, below, if you quarter-saw the stock, you'll end up with boards that display a straight grain pattern. But if you prefer the cathedral grain pattern of flatsawn boards, that's fine, too.
What's a good way to determine how to proceed? We've found that wetting the surfaces of the wood with a damp rag allows us to quickly see which grain pattern looks most pleasing.
Once you've made your decision, set your bandsaw's fence the desired distance from the blade. (Shrinking and additional machining will reduce each board dimension by about 1/8" or so. Be sure to allow for this reduction.) Rip the material into boards, as shown in Photo 4.
5. OK, you've finished sawing your logs into some great-looking boards of various thicknesses, and maybe even some bowl blanks and turning squares. Now what? In order to ensure that you will have usable material when it dries, you need to seal, sticker, and store the wood.
To prevent uneven drying of the material, seal all end grain as shown in Photo 5 with paint or one of the products designed especially for this purpose. Then, cut several thin, narrow pieces of spacer material, commonly called "stickers" from previously dried stock. For larger boards, use ¾" by ¾" stickers. When placed between each layer of stock and near the ends of the boards, the stickers allow air to move freely in and around the boards as they dry. It is also advisable to weight the stock down to minimize cupping and warpage.
After stickering your freshly cut and prepared lumber, move it to a dry, moderately warm location for storing. Also, label the stacks as to species and stickering date.
How long will it be before your lumber air-dries enough to use it? That depends, but an old adage calls for one year of drying time per inch of thickness. Of course, this will vary with the drying conditions. By far the best way to judge readiness at any given time is with a moisture meter.
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