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Author Topic: Metamorphis of a gnarly red oak slab  (Read 176 times)

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Offline scsmith42

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Metamorphis of a gnarly red oak slab
« on: September 15, 2020, 09:26:21 PM »
A few years back a customer drug an old red oak log out of the woods and brought it to us for milling.  This log had probably been down for 4-5 years and had a lot of rot, but surprisingly, it did not have much spalting.  The log measured around 36" diameter.

When the customer picked up the green slabs, he asked me if I would discount the milling costs somewhat by my keeping some of the slabs.  I don't always agree to this (can't pay the employees in wood!), but in this instance I agreed to keep one slab and discounted the milling charges somewhat.  Subsequently we air and then kiln dried the slab, and has set around the inventory room for over a year.  The slab was milled at 3" green and S2S'd at around 1.5".  Slabs with a lot of crotch figure tend to move a lot during the drying process, and this one was no exception.

Recently a customer bought it, and since he was a friend I agreed to let him finish it in my shop.  We used the planer blade on the Peterson to flatten it, and then it made a few passes through the new wide belt sander.  The customer then used a random orbital sander for the finish work.

This slab absorbed a lot of clear epoxy and CA, but I think that the end result was worth it.  We did the millwork and sanding, but the customer did most of the finish work.  Usually I prefer a black epoxy instead of clear, but as punky as some of the areas in slab were I figured that black would result in a appearance of "blobs" on the surface, and went with the clear instead.  I'm pleased with the end result.

The finish is General Finishes high performance water based satin that was sprayed.  For red oak, this slab was more brown than red and the GF finish helped to preserve the original color.  The photo's are pretty accurate in terms of color rendition.




 





 
Peterson 10" WPF with 65' of track
Smith - Gallagher dedicated slabber
Tom's 3638D Baker band mill
and a mix of log handling heavy equipment.

Offline Larry

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Re: Metamorphis of a gnarly red oak slab
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2020, 10:21:39 PM »
Interesting slab, I really like the section on the forks!

Couple of questions.  How did you dry it?  You lost 1-1/2" thickness while flattening, I suppose because of warp.  How much thickness do you normally figure you will loose on a big slab?
Larry, making useful and beautiful things out of the most environmental friendly material on the planet.

We need to insure our customers understand the importance of our craft.

Offline scsmith42

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Re: Metamorphis of a gnarly red oak slab
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2020, 11:31:53 PM »
Interesting slab, I really like the section on the forks!

Couple of questions.  How did you dry it?  You lost 1-1/2" thickness while flattening, I suppose because of warp.  How much thickness do you normally figure you will loose on a big slab?
Larry, we started off by air drying it for a 6 months, then around 4 months in a solar kiln, and finally a week in a Nyle L200 to bring it down to 7% and sterilize / condition it.
The challenge with slabs with a lot of limb locations is that they will distort where the different pith's intersect.  Usually it results in a depression on one side and a high spot on the other immediately adjacent to the limb pith.
Since this was the center slab in the log, when milled at 3" it shrunk approximately 3/8" during drying.  Also, because I use a chain slabber it is difficult to keep the cuts as precise as we get on the Baker.  Thus I'll add another 1/2" or so to allow for any chain movement during milling.
For a 36" wide log, usually we will shoot for around 3" green.  A 48" wide would be closer to 3-1/2 or so depending upon how many defects (aka "character") it has.
Thinner live edge slabs - such as 24" or so, we'll shoot for 2-1/2" - 2-3/4" green in order to allow for drying related movement.
Bottom line, the wider the slab and the more defects, the thicker that we mill it.  I have some 6' wide slabs that we milled at 4-1/4" green.  They are around 3-3/4" now that they are fully dry.
Peterson 10" WPF with 65' of track
Smith - Gallagher dedicated slabber
Tom's 3638D Baker band mill
and a mix of log handling heavy equipment.

Offline Don P

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Re: Metamorphis of a gnarly red oak slab
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2020, 08:13:33 AM »
Shrinkage and cupping are just one part of the warp allowance though, twisting is what eats more thickness, especially as it gets longer. Getting those diagonal corners to surface out can take a lot of thickness, sometimes you just have to dock it shorter.

That came out really nice, we have a stack of red oak slabs taking up space that need to go away. That is a fine example of what they can become. I'll bet the new wide belt really showed off here.
A laborer works with his hands
A craftsman uses his brain and his hands
An artist uses his brain, his hands, and his heart


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