How long to rehydrate wood?

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Forum topic by RaggedKerf posted 12-21-2012 02:58 AM 12647 views 1 time favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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425 posts in 3171 days

12-21-2012 02:58 AM

Topic tags/keywords: basswood rehydrate chip carving question

So I have just begun to learn about chip carving (I LOVE it by the way) and I’ve just read Wayne Barton’s Complete Guide to Chip Carving cover to cover…I tried my first practice cuts (while violating two rules….used the factory edge on my new knife (hissss) and used bone dry basswood).

Here’s the question—-how do you folks rehydrate the wood when it’s too dry—-okay, I should say I THINK it’s too dry because the wood, I don’t know, felt a little brittle as I cut it. More snapping than slicing. Now, I fully expect that could be because I used the factory edge on the knife and didn’t sharpen it at all due to my impatience and excitement…but…could it be the wood (which has been sitting in my garage for…oh, a few months?)?

I have read bits about rehydrating wood, keeping it in plastic bags, etc…but how exactly do you go about doing that? I mean, do we put water in the bag and let it sit overnight? A few days? Do we steam it or…? There seems to be many ways to do this and I realize everyone likely has their own method, but I’m just looking for a consensus or even a majority of opinions to try this out.

Here’s my first ever attempt by the way:

Thanks (and a big woo-hoo for having a carving forum

-- Steve

3 replies so far

View Harry Montana's profile

Harry Montana

46 posts in 3045 days

#1 posted 12-21-2012 11:20 AM

I am not sure, but to dry wood we steam and ventilate the moisture out. This is a program with hot ventilation, steaming, hot ventilation, steaming etc. This goes on for 3 – 4 weeks depending on the mositure content of the wood. So if you want to do rehydrating, I guess you have to do this in revers. Please remind that wood under influence of moisture and/ or heat may warp twist etc… We first dry, and then mold out all these warpings/ twistings. Here is a picture of our kiln dry oven (50,000 BFT) to have an idea. You can see between all boards there is a spacing so the ventilation wind can go thru.

Hardydeck SRL hardwood flooring and decking kiln dry

-- With regards from Harry Montana

View SteviePete's profile


226 posts in 4353 days

#2 posted 01-07-2013 09:01 PM

Sharp Fixes Everything!

At a Comm Ed class I had problem working some squirlly grain in basswood. Teacher gave me spray bottle of denatured alcohol – one small squirt on general area worked good.

In my location the ambient RH is high enough to not be a problem—move project out of heated area.

When using greenwood have read to keep the shavings with the project in a plastic bag. This is done mostly to reduce distortion and splitting. I have some kubbstol blanks (Scandanavian stump chair) I barked and rough carved in the winter (Anchorseal all endgrain and blemishes) , put shavings in heavy leaf bag, opened in spring and did second rough carving – plastic bag with the new shavings. Still have lots of carving to do but moisture at 13% on pin meter and it carves great. Seems like if one put some wetter shavings in bag with Chip Carving wood should help raise the moisture. Ya think? On Wisconsin. Steve

-- Steve, 'Sconie Great White North

View mpounders's profile


995 posts in 3945 days

#3 posted 02-13-2013 02:41 PM

Usually, just spray with a 50/50 mixture of water and alcohol to “soften” the wood. It is usually only necessary on hard wood. In looking at your picture, I’d be willing to bet your knife could be sharper and that would be the solution to the problem. When the wood tears, it’s probably your edge, not the wood.

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

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