January 23, 2017

Freeze Drying Wood

Filed under: Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , — peteblair @ 4:49 pm

I know this will not put all the questions about this method of drying wood to bed but I may answer a few of the questions.
My wife decided that she would rather have an extra refrigerator than an extra freezer. So I was charged with emptying the wood I have been storing out of the freezer.

I am not really good at keeping notes and as I age my memory hasn’t seemed to improve and as a result I am guessing about the length of time the wood has been in the freezer. There are lots of different sized pieces of Vine Maple, Big Leaf Maple and Cherry. The best I can do is to say that all pieces have been frozen for at least 3 years and I suspect more like 5 years.

I have 2 x 2 spindle blanks, large cut pieces about 8 or 10 wide by 8 to 14 inches long. In addition I stuck a few uncut pieces of the main trunk of a vine maple.

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I do need to qualify that a year ago we had a mishap and the freezer was unplugged for a week in which we lost a lot of frozen fish.

Some of the pieces of wood were actually frozen in the bottom of the freezer in the water from the mishap. Some pieces seem to have spalted during their time in the freezer.

I moved all the pieces out of the freezer to begin to thaw. It should be noted that the weather in here has been cool from about 0 and night to 8 or 10 during the day.

Removing the wood from the freezer the only checking I saw was in two of the larger blanks where the wood in two blocks has split on the annual rings. img_3570Absolutely no checking was seen on the ends of any of the whole log sections, these all still have bark on them.

Today I took a number of the spindle blanks and turned them round. I coated half of the rounds with Anchor seal, at the same time I coated about half the rest as well.

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Time will tell if either the coated or untreated will check and/or crack.

I did notice when turning the spindle blanks that the wood while still partly frozen seemed quite dry and the curlies felt dry. Quite unlike some other wood that I have been turning that was cut recently and frozen as a result of our cold spell. That wood all felt wet and the curlies did as well.

I am keeping most of the wood outside on a concrete pad, sitting on some cedar strips under a tarp.

Tomorrow I will bring a couple of pieces into my shop and weight them to allow me to judge exactly how dry they are after the freezer treatment.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave me a note.

I have since turned and finished two of the pieces from he bottom of the freezer. These both have lots of salting. I noticed they were VERY hard, such harder than any spalted maple I have ever turned. The were absolutely dry as a matter of fact they were so dry it was difficult to turn them without a very sharp gouge and very light cuts.

I have lots more to turn but believe the freezer dying, if the wood is left in it long enough is a very good way to dry wood.


June 28, 2014

Great Store

Filed under: Art, Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 2:20 pm

I have just reached an agreement with Cathy Goodman to sell some of my pieces in her new store here in Ladner at the  “Muddy River Landing”.

She has a wonderful store offering BC Coastal Curios and Bling including lots of local artists work!

If you live in the lower mainland of BC and would like to see or purchase any of my work this would be a great place to see it first hand.
Cathy has also kindly offered to exibit some of my whimisical wooden walking sticks.

May 26, 2014

More of Molly’s Influence

I continue to enjoy making miniature and smaller size hollow forms adorned with some of the pyrography techniques which I learned in a all day workshop with Molly Winton. This series includes Orca Whales.

Thinking about Molly’s influence I am not too sure how she feels about the work I am producing in her shadow. Sometimes I wonder if the artist(s) whom influence my work would really rather I didn’t mention their names or if they might be embarrassed by my attempts to incorporate some of the details which they use. At any rate, until I learn differently, I shall continue to list those whom have influenced my techniques and design features in the pieces I show here.

I have apparently started a series, not planned but because there are some similarities I will also post a series on this blog.

of  related Blogs.

This piece is the first in the Orca Series. It includes a four ‘lip’ opening influenced by Molly(she does a 3 point) as well as the sort of basket weave that she uses on the lower part of the piece.

On this piece I used a small round “writing point’ burning point to detail at the dark parts of the Orcas. I then stained the maple around them. This left the whiter parts of the Orcas the natural maple color although not as white as they are in nature.


I have completed a few others in this series but will post them individually.

My work can all be seen on my Web Site woodbowlsandthings.com

Please feel free to comment or send me a note if you wish to discuss my work or would like any more details.

August 25, 2013

Is it worth it?

Filed under: Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 4:05 pm

Kind of a long story but I’ll try to keep it short as I can.

In November of 2012 I was invited to gather some Maple from a tree that was being removed in my home town.

I took a trailer load, which was about 24 pieces 16 – 20 ” long and about 24 to 30″ in diameter.

I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare the wood but I did manage to cut the pith out of about half the rounds. I treated the ends both the halved and the whole rounds with Anchorseal. I believe the first generation of Anchorseal is far and away better than the newer type.

Here’s a shot of what happens if you don’t treat them.  The first picture is the treated end of a round and the second is a photo of the other end which I must have forgotten to treat. Not sure if you can see but the treated end had zero splits but the untreated end has many splits.



So, here’s a couple of photos of my days work.


It probably doesn’t look like a days work but here’s what I did. First I took all the rounds that I had split in November and cut them into various shapes for my lathe. Then I took the remaining rounds and removed the pith from them with my 16″ Husky. Not much work you say?


Well considering that I ruined 2 bandsaw blades and hit another two nails with my chain saw I added quite a lot of time to the day, replacing bandsaw blades and sharpening my Husky 5 times.

Here’s a picture of some of the ‘junk’ I hit with my bandsaw.


I have found a great tool that is really helps me sharpen my chain saw. Forgot to mention that if you have a chainsaw with a brake lever you must not remove the sprocket guard when the lock is on. Don’t ask me how I know but it took me 2 hours to get the cover back on!


So, at the end of the day I had cut lots of blanks, made lots of shavings and ruined 2 bandsaw blades to the tune of about $50.00 not counting my time of course but all in all I think it was well worth while. I just wish the Timberline, who make the chain saw sharpener also made a bandsaw blade sharpener.

What say you, do you think the blanks I prepared were worth the day and costs I incurred?

March 17, 2013

Mostly a success

My recent attempt to create something different with my wood lathe was a partial success.

The holder worked as planned but it is way way too much wood for my small high speed tool to remove.

In reality it will do exactly what I designed it for. My plan was to use it to trim the small ends of my negative space designs uniformly and it will do that and lots more BUT it will not aid me in the actual fabrication of the negative space design pieces I enjoy making.

Here are a few photo’s of the results of this experiment. Took way too long and was way toooo hard on my high speed tool. If you look closely at the right hand side of the first photo you can see my high tech method of tilting the fixture. I use washers in some of my other router accessories to adjust height.

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Here are two shots of the piece, closer to completion. I dyed it blue after dying the grooves black but still have to decide just how I am going to finish it.



So, back to the drawing board where I need to come up with an attachment that will allow me mount a router and move it:

1. Toward and away from the head stock in small increments, possibly with a hand wheel or screw.

2. Vertically up or down and then be able to lock it at whatever elevation I decide on.

3. Allow me to angle the router toward or away from vertical

4. Allow for easy rotation while cutting with very little play. This may have to be accomplished again with a hand wheel or screw.

5. Provide adjustable stops to enable me to either start or stop where I want on the piece I’m working on.

January 7, 2012

Color or is it colour?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 2:45 pm

My first venture into wood dying has been interesting. I am finding that the most difficult part is knowing when to stop. There are so many options when dying wood that one needs to reign in the fascination with color to ensure that the grain shows through.

Here’s my first piece “Pacific Sunset”. It is spalted maple with a blue dye and I added a few sea birds to add to the interest.

I hope you like it.

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