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Author Topic: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying  (Read 1771 times)

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Offline Rhodemont

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Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« on: April 25, 2018, 08:44:23 AM »
I was asked by a friend to mill thirty 9 inch diameter disks with bark to be varnished and used as part of a center piece at a reception.   Figured it was no big deal so I pulled up several different species logs, clamped them vertically in the mill and sliced off some 13/16 thick sample disks for them to choose what wood grain they liked. Of the red oak, white oak, hickory, maple and birch samples they choose the hickory.  So I sliced off 36 hickory discs, laid them out on pencils as stickers to air dry for two weeks for the surface to dry.  Thought if I varnished them at that point it would keep them from drying further and splitting.  They looked great this past weekend after I varnished.  Came home last evening to see how the varnish looked and half had split which means the other half probably will as well.  Any suggestions on drying a live edge disk or is different wood species be better choice.  That hickory was pretty wet. 

Offline DR_Buck

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2018, 09:28:45 AM »
Disks or "cookies" will always split.   Shrinkage rates are inconsistant across the piece and cannot be avoided.
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Offline DelawhereJoe

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2018, 09:59:38 AM »
This may or may not help you Drying "Cookies" or "Rounds" in Drying and Processing but its the best I can offer.
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Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2018, 02:45:40 PM »
Check out these disks, kiln dried without chemicals.  They do several species.  Most do not crack.

https://www.walnuthollow.com/wood-surfaces/natural-birch-with-bark/birch-round-/
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Offline Rhodemont

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2018, 03:47:21 PM »
After reading the good thread on cookies I think I am in over my head in figuring this out in time.  The walnuthollow.com kiln dried cookes are birch and bass wood, maybe the difference in heart to sap wood shrink is not as major a factor as it appears hickory is.  I have yellow birch so maybe try some.  I found https://www.preservation-solutions.com/wood-treatment-products/wood-treatment-product-guides/stabilizing-a-cross-cut-s on line.  Not thrilled about chemical treatment but maybe worth a try to save face.

Offline Hilltop366

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2018, 04:41:19 PM »
Would it be possible to cut them a day or two before the wedding and use them green?

Offline Rhodemont

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2018, 07:09:33 PM »
That is my fall back position.  Thing is would have to varnish them to bring out nice grain.  I can just imagine showing up covered in varnish.

Offline Southside logger

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2018, 11:23:19 PM »
What about using a fast drying expoy the night before instead of varnish?
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Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2018, 11:23:41 PM »
If you go green, use wax for a finish... i like Briwax.
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2018, 11:45:28 PM »
Sounds like you are in a pickle, weddings can be very stressful. I'll try to help, sorry for the long post.

My best results come from cookies about 1.5" to 2" thick.

A good rule of thumb I use to guide customers what to purchase is:

If the wood is used for firewood because of its properties of easy splitting with a maul, then it won't make a good cookie. ;) Hickory, oaks, etc make generally poor cookies, in my experience.  They split too easy.  If you had a big pile of stumps and someone handed you a maul on hot day, and said get to splitting, which species of stumps would you hit first, and which would you avoid like the plague?

Once cookies are cut, do a thump test.  Cut a cookie about 2 inches thick, hold it firmly by one edge.  Then proceed to thump the cookie against a tree with moderate force.  If it pops apart with a gentle hit, not a good sign.  Get another log.

If the species of wood is avoided for firewood specifically for its difficult splitting characteristics, or spiral grain, then it will make good cookies.  Soft maple, red heart sweet gum, spiraled flame box elder (one of my favorites for wedding because of the rose petal heartwood designs), and elm are good ones.  The survival rate of these cookies is very high.  Logs with lots of knots hold together well and sometimes leave cute faces in the cookies.  Remember the maul, who likes to split a knotty stump log?

Light weight, porus low structure wood like basswood and cedar make pretty good cookies.  These are typically sold in the stores.  These don't take the thump test too well, sometimes they don't survive dropping from the log when cut, but experience shows that they dry OK.  

Normally, when I'm out bucking logs, I will chainsaw whole pallets of cookies, before I have any orders, stack them so they will get air flow and expect a certain amount of mortality.  I don't cut them on the mill anymore, the customers actually prefer the rough chainsaw marks.  I will also always try to slice at least at a slight angle which gives extra strength, but not enough to cause obvious oval which customers seem to not like, but more like subtle oblong circles.  The brides never notice.   :D  When the customers come to pick and choose what they want off the pallet, and the cookies have had a chance to dry a little, I point them to the pallet and tell them not to take the ones with the big cracks in them. :D  And then take a few extra for luck.  

Here is a nice ambrosia (red maple) cookie for a cake centerpiece with a chainsaw.


All cookies are under significant stress when drying.  So is the wedding party.  We sell a relatively fair amount of them for weddings and species and log selection is 80% of the battle.  Getting the customer not to take them too serious is the rest.   :D  The cookies are wood, they may crack, they may split, hey it's a wedding, enjoy the wedding.   smiley_love  Have fun.  I've given that speech many, many times.

Lastly, I have the Mother of the Bride, or Groom, jokingly recite the mantra "When it cracks, glue it back!"
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2018, 12:48:01 AM »
Before you start over, try brush painting one of the hickory cookies in canola or olive oil.  The wood will soak it up in minutes and take a nice shine.  Just wipe off the excess.  This will also retard the drying process and push off your cracking dilema til after the wedding.  
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Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2018, 04:25:31 AM »
One option is to cut three disks that are adjacent to each other.  Then put a saw kerf from the bark to the center on all three, but make the cut at a different location on each cookie.  Then dry them.  Now, use the middle disk as a sacrificial disk.  So, in disk 1 and 3, cut a pie shaped wedge that contains the major split.  Then go to disk 2and cut a pie shape wedge to replace and fit snugly and perfectly in the hole in 1 and 3.  Glue it in place.  The grain will line up perfectly, so this repair will not be easy to see.  Ok?
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Offline Rhodemont

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2018, 05:44:59 AM »
Per Yellowhammer it sounds like I did just the opposite, all the wrong things:  Hickory easy to split, clean log no knots, thin, have to reread to find more.  Oh yeah, I am father of the groom and the friend is mother of the bride...ohh boy!

Offline WDH

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2018, 07:15:18 AM »
The thinner they are, the more likelyhood of cupping into a bowl shape if they don't crack.  1.5" thick has worked best for me.  Spiral grain woods and eastern red cedar have worked best for me. 
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2018, 08:48:17 AM »
The cookies are wood, they may crack, they may split, hey it's a wedding, enjoy the wedding.   smiley_love  Have fun.  I've given that speech many, many times.
Congratulations!  Weddings are a time of stress, happiness, and excitement.
   
You can always cut the cookies the day or two before and use them green.  So you won't miss the deadline.

Here's a picture of how much stress and shrinkage a cookie has to endure when drying.  This was cut out of a poplar log, and as soon as it hit the ground, I cut a single line from edge to center.  It now looks like Pac Man.


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Offline Southside logger

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2018, 11:14:33 AM »
Speaking of Pac-Man did you know that if you stick your finger in your ear and wiggle it up and down it sounds just like the Pac-Man noise? 
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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2018, 05:47:19 PM »
Another trick is to drill a lot of relief holes on the bottom side of the cookie.  If you start with a 2" thick cookie, use a 2" forstner bit to drill a pattern of holes on the bottom side, about 1" or so into the cookie.

Put them on about a 4" grid pattern. 

It helps quite a bit to relieve the stresses.
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Offline Southside logger

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2018, 03:13:27 PM »
The finger in ear Pac Man thing relieves stress too... :D
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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2018, 10:52:03 AM »
Every of the original 30 cookies I cut now look like pac-man.  Pressure is on since the wedding is a week from Saturday!  I Broke down and purchased some PEG to soak a new round of thicker 1 1/2" cookies in, 24 hours per inch thickness.  They have been drying for a week now, wish I had more time but will have to finish them this week end and hope for the best.  Back up back up plan is have log ready to go and will mill cookies and wax them a couple days before needed.

Offline Rhodemont

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Re: Decorative Live Edge Disks Splitting While Drying
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2018, 01:35:58 PM »
Mission accomplished, pressure is off.  The cookies I soaked in peg   (Polyethylene glycol) worked out really well for the centerpieces.  Had quite a few people ask if they could get some.  So, it sounds like as some replied this cookie thing is popular.  I though the PEG prevented the polyurethane from bringing out the grain as much as untreated but maybe my sights are too high. 


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