Janel Posted April 16, 2009 Report Share Posted April 16, 2009 I have received a question by email about how to season boxwood. We have discussed this before, but I would like to make a topic and open it up for further discussion. I do not claim to be or feel like an authority on the subject, but I learn a little more as time goes by. Please offer your corrections or additions to this topic. Here is the question and response: Dear Ms Jacobson I saw your advice on the Netsuke Society site. I am fortunate in living in an area with much boxwood growing around. I have just picked up a piece about 6' 0" long and 5" diameter at the base, how should I go about seasoning it so it does not split? If you can spare the time to advise me I would be most grateful. My response: I am not the most knowledgeable person regarding the seasoning of boxwood. I do have pieces that are about that diameter, which were given, or sold, to me a long time ago. Each one has reacted differently to having not been cut lengthwise to remove the center of the log (pith). The pieces are still intact, but each has some degree of cracking except one. This year I have learned about how to prepare wood for woodturning on a lathe, either for green-turning or for seasoning to dry wood. Each method recommends cutting through the midline of the wood in such a way that removes the pith. This is done because of the differences in density and moisture between the outer and inner areas of the wood and the rate at which it dries. The wood looses moisture from the end grain cuts, much like a bundle of drinking straws filled with water would. It is important to use a sealer to stop the rapid water loss from the ends of the log or sections of log. A water based liquid wax emulsion is used to coat the ends and several inches up the log's sides. I would also cover any places where branches were cut off since those represent end grain as well. Whether or not to remove the bark, I am not sure. I have some 1" to 2.5" diameter branches seasoning with waxing as described above, with the bark on. I purchased a log some time ago that had the bark removed, but it was from Thailand, and perhaps it had to have the bark removed for export/import reasons. If you are preparing the wood for netsuke rather than larger carvings, one could cut the log into shorter pieces, and from those, cut lengthwise pieces to create "sticks" of the approximate size that would be appropriate widths for netsuke. If being prepared for turning, cut the lengths into a square dimension and then turn the lengths to cylinders and wax the ends. In either case, stack the "sticks" in such a way that air flows under and around the pieces, and place lath or slender long pieces of wood between the layers of drying wood, alternating each layer to position the pieces above the open spaces beneath, to allow for air to flow around all exposed wood sides. Store these pieces in a place that has a stable, cool, environment. Great fluctuations in temperature and humidity are to be avoided. Air flow should be present, but moderate, not rapid or hot. I have also recently learned how to judge when drying has ceased for a piece of wood. One weighs the newly cut and waxed wood sections, and would write that information on the wood pieces, along with the cut date and the date of weighing. In intervals of several months, the wood pieces are weighed and recorded. When the wood no longer looses weight for several months or a longer, then perhaps the wood has dried sufficiently for use. One "rule of thumb" might be: one year per inch plus one more year, for drying wood. Boxwood may take even longer. Boxwood likely will take a long time for this process because of its density. Prior to use, after drying might be complete as an intact or halved log, or as sticks, it may be advisable to cut the wood into the size pieces in preparation for use. Let them acclimate for a period of time (days, weeks, months? I am not sure) to the ambient conditions. Please go to http://www.thecarvingpath.net/forum and enter boxwood as a keyword in the SEARCH function. You will find much information about boxwood from our discussions on this forum. I hope that you will learn even more about it there! Janel Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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