Drying Bowl Blanks

One woodturner reports success with an alcohol pre-soak method. January 13, 2006

I'm trying to find out the best way to properly dry white oak logs prior to turning them down to bowls or boxes. The oak was downed during last year's storms in northern Florida. It was cut up and stacked outside under cover. Most of the wood is about 10-12" in diameter. Now I'm ready to turn some down to 8-10" rounds 10-12" long. These will then be cut to 3" and 5" thick sections to make boxes that fit together. After they are cut, they start cracking from the pith within a couple of days. My research has come up with anything from putting them in a microwave to boiling them or cutting out the pith and replacing with a dowel, soaking them for a few days in dishwashing liquid, putting them in a freezer, putting them in an oven at 210 - 215 degrees for 24 hours or soaking them in PEG for a couple of weeks.

My thought is to rough turn them down to remove as much of the center as I can, then get them dry and finish turning. But which way would be the quickest, safest and most economical way to dry them properly?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
The standard way is to rough turn. The wall thickness should be 1/10 of the diameter. Then allow to dry before finish turning. You can also turn green to finished, but the bowl, etc. will probably warp. As you have found out, cutting the blanks and leaving them usually is not good unless you plan on using them right away. I have fairly good luck with keeping turning blanks if I coat the end grain with at least two generous coats of Anchor Seal. I also coat the rest of the blank with one coat, especially with large blanks or wood prone to cracking. I have had very good success with using the denatured alcohol drying. Especially with large (>16") diameter bowls.