A customer asked if I would dry 9" oak for mantle pieces in my kilns. I told them that it would take forever. I heard other people say that it would work okay to just apply the finish and sealer (to slow it down) and let it dry on its own. They asked if an oil would be a good enough sealer to slow it down? Any thoughts?
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
Your question is a little vague. I guess that since you said 9" thick, it is safe to assume that it will be thicker, and that you must want a natural edge. Otherwise, why not build a box out of thinner stock?
I am using green wood for more projects lately, and find it rewarding. As was suggested, applying some finish will retard the surface evaporation rate, which will allow moisture to arrive at the surface at a rate close to the evaporation rate into the atmosphere, and reduce checking. If that sounds easy, keep in mind that sapwood is more absorbent and desorbent than heartwood, and might need more finish than heart, and that the ratios between radial and tangential always make a difference in the final equation, thus I like to stay as far away from the heart or juvenile wood as possible, to keep those small curving annual rings out of the equation and keep the ratios down to an X - Y axis.
Having said all that, you should tell your customer to expect some checking, but that it may close up some with time. If the checking happens while it is in your care, rather than hiding it, you can round out the edges a little with sandpaper, which gives a bit of rustic charm.
I prefer some of the modified oil finishes which contain sealer, yet soak into the surface before setting, over straight tung and linseed or the topcoat finishes. Be sure to apply finish liberally to the end grain, and maybe even work in several coats of wax to slow the moisture loss there.