Storing green wood: How to prevent cracks

When we work with green wood we must always take into account the drying process because cracks appear when the wood dries uncontrollably fast. In this article we will see how and why we should properly store green wood.

Cracks happen when the wood looses its moisture rapidly and therefore irregularly. If its fibers are exposed to the environment, it will dry faster on its outer side than on the inside, causing the outer fibers to contract at a faster rate than the inner ones, causing cracks.

Wood dries more or less quickly depending on several factors:

  • The width and length of the log
  • If it is stored in the shade or in the sunlight
  • The air temperature and humidity
  • If it still has the bark or not

Storing green wood for Spoon Carving

The wood starts to dry rapidly when its fibers are exposed to the air. Freshly cut wood has a greater tendency to cracking because of its higher moisture content.

To prevent cracks we mush avoid leaving the logs or branches exposed to direct sunlight or to high temperatures.

When we cut a log, the bark will prevent it from drying quickly around its perimeter but its ends will be exposed. To store logs for long periods of time (up to months depending on the size and conditions of the environment) we must seal the ends with white glue or synthetic varnish and store in the shade and above the ground.

If we cut the log in wedges (See: How to split a log using the axe) and we expose the fibers but we cannot carve it immediately, there are two ways to store the wood: In the plastic bags in the freezer or totally submerged in water saturated with sea salt.

Once we have started to carve the spoon, it can also be prone to cracking, this is why we must consider a couple of things:

  • Controlling the drying speed: If we don’t finish carving our spoon in one session we can store it in a plastic bag in the shade and continue carving the next day. For a longer period of time we can store it in the freezer.
  • The width: If our spoon has different widths along its shape, the thinner parts will dry faster than the thickest which will most likely cause cracking. We must try to maintain a uniform width through the entire spoon.

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