drying wet wood

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Forum topic by tommyd posted 03-24-2010 04:18 AM 1409 views 0 times favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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77 posts in 3639 days

03-24-2010 04:18 AM

I have a very wet log which I’m going to make a hollow vessel. I need to have it ready for a challenge for our monthly meeting. How can I dry it after turning it so I can put a finish on it.

-- Life is too short for negative drama & petty things. So laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly!

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Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 4420 days

#1 posted 03-24-2010 03:54 PM


The answer like for most things is “it depends”.

If you turn the piece thin (i.e. 1/4” or so in thickness or thinner) it may dry with a week or two in a relatively dry environment. In this case you would want to regulate the drying so that it does not dry too fast and crack. This can be done by putting the piece in a paper back or wrapping the outside in newspaper (with the opening exposed) for the first few days to a week. Then remove the bag/paper to see where things are – moisture wise. The piece will move and distort as it dries. How much and in what directions depends on where it was cut from the log and the propensity of the wood species to move.

Another way to dry quickly – but somewhat less predictable in my experience is to again turn the piece fairly thin and then dry it in intervals in the microwave. In my experience, this should be done at a med/low power in intervals of no more than a minute or so. The wood will get hot and steam and could crack during this process. It could also burn and start a fire so, this is more risky and you need to watch the wood during every second or the process! You should let the piece cool down completely in between intervals in the microwave. How many intervals will depend on all of the same things I noted above and the same things will occur (i.e. the piece will move – maybe more so with the microwave drying technique).

I usually follow the first method turning no more than 1/4” in thickness with few failures. I have done the microwave method with limited success and many more failures.

I hope that this helps. Drying wood and predicting its behavior is all about understanding the medium and working with the constraints that it poses.

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at

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