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How to dry wood? Answered

I've picked up a horse-chestnut branch, 2-3 inches thick.

It's fairly fresh (I think kids climbed the tree & snapped it off).

Without specialist equipment, what's the best way to dry it out (season it?) without it splitting and cracking?

It's currently standing in the corner of my shed.


I use ordinary soap. I apply it on the ends with a little water. The same thing as the fancy solutions but cheap.


I have about 2 dozen chunks of wood (large branches cut into pieces ranging from 4 - 10 inches in diameter) I want to dry them out to use as centrepieces for my wedding. At the moment they are in my conservatory led on their sides. Am I doing the right thing to dry them out?



I have this wooden box and its wet where there was a hinge and screws, how can I dry it where the screws were? I took the whole thing apart but I have no idea how to dry wood where the screws or hinges were please help??!!!

lol! I know I'm a bit late - sorry - fwiw I put mine in my attic and it does very well in the Autumn months. Winter is slow drying and summer tends to bake it bit. ;-)

Coat the ends with polybond right now. That will stop the wood checking.

If you're going to turn it, chunk it now and poly the chunks.

If its a really evil wood for checking like laburnum, there's something you should immerse it in, but, for the life of me I can't remember the name.

If you're planking it, now's a good time to do it, and set the "planks" on spacers to even out the air around it.



Since the alternative is to dip in wax, I suspect that varnish would work fine.


Wax is the material that has been used for more than a thousand years. I have heard of people getting good results from "Emulsion Paint" but that didn't work for me. I believe "White glue" (PVA) has had some good results but I haven't tried that.

Incidentally there has been some interesting work done with Poly Ethylene Glycol" (PEG) a Waxy organic compound that can be made to REPLACE the water content in some porous materials. It's what is used to preserve and CONSERVE archeological material like the wood from the Mary Rose.

Here's a thought - if I cut and drilled them now, would that cut down the stresses that cause the checking you mentioned, because it would be drying from the middle as well as the outside?

sam D

6 years ago

Check the solar kiln instructable.


Wood can be seasoned by keeping it in a dry place - shed - garage for example and waiting for the water content to reduce to about 7% you can assess this by weighing the wood periodically, the weight loss is water.

To prevent the ends splitting you could try binding them with some strong cord. Or perhaps wrapping tightly in duct tape.

If you cut and drill now whilst wet you may find as they dry 9it will be quicker) they warp and change shape - this may not matter to you.

The bark will almost certainly fall, off as they dry.

I believe you leave wood standing with ventilation for at least a year, to season it right. But that's just what I believe.



6 years ago

You can work it green, its usually easier to cut that way, but it will shrink. You may not get the same kind of cracks but you probably will get some. And it will warp or curl. The problem is you just don't know which way its going to go. What I did with wet Ash is to cut it about 1/4 larger than I wanted it to be and as it dried it shrunk to be a little bigger than the finished size I wanted. The ones that corkscrewed or warped badly ended up being firewood.
A lot of the cracking is a result of drying unevenly. The outside layers dry faster than the inside so it shrinks while the inner core does not. Because of that its going to crack somewhere. If you cut it when its green , like cutting it in half, then that stress is eliminated but there are still others such as from the ends and you have a higher chance of warping because the fibers don't have countering stresses. (by that I mean that they are all going in the same direction. If you take 2 boards each warped in the opposite direction and glue them together they will go straight because they counter each other. A branch is like that with countering fibers. When you cut it you unbalance that and there is no way of knowing which way its going to go.) The amazing thing about wood is there are no guaranties on anything.

I took a woodworking class this summer and we made handles out of green wood for mallets. We coated the ends of everything we used with white glue, like Elmer's. No cracks, worked great. The thing to think about is HOW the wood dries, it is filled with "straws" and that is where your want to slow down the moisture loss, coating the sides or taking off the bark or leaving it on will do nothing at all. It's only the ends of the "straws" that you have to coat.

(Doh, I didn't think to check for an ible!)

I want to leave the bark on, because I want to make a bunch of knitting sticks.

Here's a thought - if I cut and drilled them now, would that cut down the stresses that cause the checking Steve mentioned?

Yes, it will definitely reduce stressing.