Very Dry Elm

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  1. #1
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    Very Dry Elm

    Hi all,

    I have a large piece of Elm (i think) which I am trying to turn into a platter. The wood is so dry that my tools, even though they are razor sharp, are just tearing it. What ever cut or scrape i use it is just not working. I have now resorted to wetting the wood in a hope that the fibres will absorb some moisture and swell.

    I didn't want to use any sanding sealers. waxes etc as I am not sure as to what finish i am going to choose yet.

    I was wondering what members do when turning extremely dry wood, especially Elm.

    Cheers
    Frederick


     
     
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    You might have to decide on your finishing medium to begin with, as I think you're going to have to stabilise it with something if you're going to win the battle. Sanding sealer would be my first choice, since it's compatible with most other things, apart from oil. It occurs to me though that you could completely soak it in water then freeze it. You'd have to be pretty quick on the lathe, and it might lead to all sorts of other problems when it comes to drying out again, but worth consideration possibly.
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    I was given some Oak offcuts from a building restoration. The owner asked me if I could turn something nice from them. The building was over 300 years old and the Oak came from the original structure and was very dry. Luckily I had read some time earlier about soaking difficult timbers in a 50/50 mix of water and washing up liquid. I placed the wood in a sealed dustbin of the mixture and left it for a couple of months. I then removed the wood and let it drip dry for a week. Apart from a hidden cut nail in the wood turning went very well. Can’t remember what finish I used but the customer was pleased.

     
     
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    You need a bigger chisel Only joking on that one Frederick.

    Most of my wood has a good moisture content so not so much of a problem. I have turned the odd piece which sounds just like what you have. I do not worry about tear out until I get it very close to the finished size then it is a case of very sharp tools and light cuts trying to take too deeper cut will pull fibres even with a sharp tool so keep them light.
    "The only people who never fail are those that never try"


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    Lots of papering from very coarse down.

    Peter.
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    When I turn timber like this I water down some pva glue & coat the timber letting it soak in & recoating before it is dry. This helps to bind the fibres. Let it dry before turning. You can also coat it with wax to lubrications your tool while cutting. You can do this as many times as you need as you cut each coat of wax off leaving a clean surface.
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    Hi all,

    Thanks for these ideas. I hadn't thought of these especially Phil's freezing the wood. Soaking the wood in a mixture of washing up liquid sounds a good idea. Thanks all for the advice, I will try them all.

    Cheers
    Frederick

     
     
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    I have used shellac successfully on difficult grain.
    Stop trying to make everyone happy, you're not beer.

     
     
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    Over here we have Earls wood hardener, there is proberly something similar in UK.

    Timbermate Group - Earls Wood Hardener

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frederick View Post
    Hi all,

    Thanks for these ideas. I hadn't thought of these especially Phil's freezing the wood. Soaking the wood in a mixture of washing up liquid sounds a good idea. Thanks all for the advice, I will try them all.

    Cheers
    Frederick
    Just use the cheapest washing up liquid you can get. The soap acts as a lubricant as the wood is cut. You’ll have to experiment with finishes though.

     
     
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