Season Woodturning Logs Faster

The traditional seasoning time for natural drying of logs for turning is one year for each inch of radius.

If time is of no consequence this may be alright, but if you prefer turning seasoned wood and are impatient as I am, three to five years is a long time to wait.

In May we harvested a large Bur Oak tree that produced several ricks of desirable wood. To experiment I placed a rick of these logs two feet long and four to ten inches in diameter in a firewood rack and placed a dehumidifier in the center. I sealed the ends of the logs. The whole assembly was wrapped and sealed in Visqueen.

A hygrometer and thermometer were placed inside so temperature and humidity could be monitored. I checked the progress with a wood moisture meter. The humidity inside the package remained 20 percent less than the ambient, and the temperature was 20 degrees higher than the ambient. 

By the last of October the EMC of the logs measured from eight to thirteen percent. The average humidity in Oklahoma City for October is 12.7 percent, so the wood had reached an equilibrium (seasoned) content. Several wood species were included. Throughout the stack of logs there were only a few pieces with splits.

As a test a six inch Bur Oak log was turned to the shape of a lamp base. The moisture meter measured eight EMC at the center part of the log and a two inch diameter neck measured thirteen EMC. No cracks, splits or pith problems. See the lamp base in the Gallery.

What would have required three years to season naturally was ready to turn in five months. This is one experiment and does not prove it will be successful with all wood species in all geographical areas, but it does offer a simple and inexpensive way to greatly shorten seasoning. This is not meant to be “kiln dried,” but for woodturning it provides a great way to use wood in a short time that might otherwise be wasted or lost.