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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, walking sticks, but in a general sense any wood. I like combining different woods to acheive effects. I have had success in drying "Indian tear blanket" after removing some or all of the bark, but on other occassions, in the same setting, it has split. Putting hot wax on the ends and any stem cuts seems to work at times but there is some varriable I haven't figured out yet that causes failures at times.

Also, it seems that any wood dryed in full size (not split) will get radial cracks to the center.
 

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Here are some tips I've found that will prevent cracking at least in most of the woods I have access too.

1. Cutting in the "off season", eg: when the sap has stopped running will help. This also is handy as you

can see the wood, as leaves are off trees.

2. Cut your sticks longer than you will need, as wood tends to "check/crack" on the ends.

3. Sealing the ends is good, as you suggested, using wax.

4. When you bring your sticks home, try putting them under cover, or in the garage, somewhere cooler

and where they will dry out slowly.

5. And my favorite suggestion is... don't be in too much of a hurry to strip the bark off your walking sticks.

The bark will act as aid and keep the stick from cracking as not only does it help in holding it together but

it also slows the drying time down for more even drying. One of the other reasons I like bark so much is

you can sand it off down the road when dry and you can play with the rustic colors and texture and make

a very nice looking stick.

Hope this helps. :)
 

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Yeah, wood checking is a common problem because wood dries something like 10x faster on the ends. I read somewhere that you should coat the ends in a 50% de-natured alcohol and 50% white shellac mix, and let it dry. Wax isnt good enough at stabilizing the wood. That coating supposedly doesn't damage the wood, and leaves it in a state that you can still carve it and work on it later.
 

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i cut my walking sticks a few inches longer than i need and i debark them and put hose clamps on both ends and let the sticks dry .tighten clamps every 2-3 days to keep pressure on the ends of the stick. the clamps might leave marks but you can cut off an inch or two on each end. seems to work pretty good on willow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Here are some tips I've found that will prevent cracking at least in most of the woods I have access too.

1. Cutting in the "off season", eg: when the sap has stopped running will help. This also is handy as you

can see the wood, as leaves are off trees.

2. Cut your sticks longer than you will need, as wood tends to "check/crack" on the ends.

3. Sealing the ends is good, as you suggested, using wax.

4. When you bring your sticks home, try putting them under cover, or in the garage, somewhere cooler

and where they will dry out slowly.

5. And my favorite suggestion is... don't be in too much of a hurry to strip the bark off your walking sticks.

The bark will act as aid and keep the stick from cracking as not only does it help in holding it together but

it also slows the drying time down for more even drying. One of the other reasons I like bark so much is

you can sand it off down the road when dry and you can play with the rustic colors and texture and make

a very nice looking stick.

Hope this helps. :)
Thanks. Good suggestions.

Experimenting with the bark is fun. I have left a strip or strips or designs of the whole bark on some of my sticks so I could remember and show others what it looked like or for color contrast.

However, on some woods, like the tear blanket, it discolors inner layers. Sasafras is good, after drying, for experimenting sanding progressively throuh the layers.

Generally , though, I think the controling of the drying time and moisture content is the most important. Cellular colapse is the enemy. do you have any suggestions for keeping the acrylic resins from staining the wood. (They supposedly fill the cells and prvent colapse.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yeah, wood checking is a common problem because wood dries something like 10x faster on the ends. I read somewhere that you should coat the ends in a 50% de-natured alcohol and 50% white shellac mix, and let it dry. Wax isnt good enough at stabilizing the wood. That coating supposedly doesn't damage the wood, and leaves it in a state that you can still carve it and work on it later.
Thanks for that idea. I'll give it a try. I've been waiting to cut off the last inch or so on both ends and limbs that I want to remove. That seems to help, too.
 

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Not really sure what to suggest for the resin stain in your wood. I haven't had any issues yet with the wood and finish I've been using.

A woodworking cabinet site might have some good information?

Aaron,

I'll keep that shellac and alcohol mix in mind for the seal. I've got one particular wood up here, goes by the name of "paper bark maple"

and it's a bugger for splitting, sometimes the whole length of the stick! Problem is it takes a few weeks for it to start, well after I've put

it on the rack only to discover months down the road it'll be firewood.
 

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The product Pentacryl (thru Woodcraft) is very good to use in regards to cellular replacement. Also, once dry, it allows for the use of finishing products afterwards. It was originally used for bowl turners using green wood to prevent checking and splitting.
 

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Thanks for that Shawn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yeah, wood checking is a common problem because wood dries something like 10x faster on the ends. I read somewhere that you should coat the ends in a 50% de-natured alcohol and 50% white shellac mix, and let it dry. Wax isnt good enough at stabilizing the wood. That coating supposedly doesn't damage the wood, and leaves it in a state that you can still carve it and work on it later.
Thanks for the tip! I have to wonder though, if you seal the moisture in too tightly or encapsulate it with the moisture in it, isn't that moisture going to rot the wood or damage it in some way? sooner or later it either escapes or goes sour, right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
i cut my walking sticks a few inches longer than i need and i debark them and put hose clamps on both ends and let the sticks dry .tighten clamps every 2-3 days to keep pressure on the ends of the stick. the clamps might leave marks but you can cut off an inch or two on each end. seems to work pretty good on willow.
Yeah, I like to do that, too. That also lets you adjust the length to fit someone else if you want to give it away or sell it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The product Pentacryl (thru Woodcraft) is very good to use in regards to cellular replacement. Also, once dry, it allows for the use of finishing products afterwards. It was originally used for bowl turners using green wood to prevent checking and splitting.
That is the product I used but I might have done something wrong. My problem was that it wouldn't migrate very far up the stick through capilary action and when I left it in the acrylic a long time it must have gotten mold spores from the air because it started turning black. Either way there was darkening of the white wood. I was stuck with either beige or black stains and the acrylic only traveled 3 inches or so up each end of the stick. The cracking sometimes happens the length of the stick, like with Ratan vine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
On this subject generally, have any of you figured out why the lumber mill puts sprinklers on the trees (like their curing them) then cuts them and kiln drys them without any obvious cracking?

If I did that to my sticks I'm sure it would ruin them!
 

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Keeping the logs wet prevents them from cracking before milling. Once milled, especially if quatersawn, cracking will be greatly minimized, with only scrinkage and warpage to deal with. Sticks are a very different challenge. I would suggest you gather as many as possible all winter, then dry them as slowly as possible in your most humid place like a basement, crawl space, etc., then after some time, simply throw away the bad ones. The softer your wood species is, the less chance for spliting. But more acurately, there is property of wood called the T&R ratio. This refers to tangential and radial wood scrinkage, with linear scrinkage considered 0%. Simply put, the higher the T&R is for a specific species, the more likely it will crack during drying. Here's a link for the more common species.

http://www.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/Turning/WoodShrinkage/ShrinkageT_R_TR_ratio.html
 

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My first two very expensive attempts soaked in Pentacryl, in PVC pipe, for a week. The third is soaking now. One is a walking stick (I hope), and the other two will be shillelagh-style canes, I hope. The stick was, I thought honey locust due to the sharp thorns but now I am doubtful because the soaking shillelagh is definitely honey locust with smoother bark than the stick. The other shillelagh is oak.

Now, I have a very long wait for these to dry, perhaps six months.

In time I will share the results: did these shrink and crack, did bark come loose, etc.
 
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