There are few things in woodworking that I enjoy more than milling wood ... every new cut is like opening a Birthday Present because you just never know what is going to be inside. I even remember the first time I was part of our Woodworking Guild - Milling Crew, and what it was like to watch the saw come through the log and slice off a plank, which we then had to take over to the stacking and drying pile, and what a joy it was to turn over that log to see what the grain looked like inside.
For me, this process never gets old, and when I talk to many people who have their own mills, they experience the same thoughts when they are milling wood, especially when they get logs that appear on the outside to be something special ... sometimes they are figured or spalted wood, other times they are just regular, good quality wood.
For me, one of the pleasures of woodworking is being able to dry your own wood. Not only does it save you money, but I also enjoy being involved in the process. The whole purpose of drying wood is to get the moisture content of the wood down to a point where the wood is more stable, and often somewhere between 8 and 14 percent. There are a few different ways of drying wood. Stacking your wood up and letting the air flow around the wood is, of course, the oldest, and still very popular today, but if you want to accelerate the drying process you could use solar, dehumidification and high heat drying such as with a kiln. All of these are methods that work when drying wood.
Outdoor air drying is a very common, and of course the cheapest way of drying wood, but for most of us, air wood is still too wet for furniture making and the longer it dries out o doors, it does not get any drier. If you are building fences, sheds, houses and other similar forms of construction, outdoor air-dried wood is just fine.
Colored, and laminated woods have been on the market in one form or another for quite a number of years. They are often used by wood turners for making high quality colorful pens, wine stoppers, pool ques and other smaller items. If you think of colored plywood, that is what would describe colored laminated woods. The difference is what is used to laminate them together and there are a few products, some of these lamination or glues allow much of the natural characteristics of the wood to remain unchanged. This means these laminated pices are water resistant, but not really water proof. If you submerge them in water, the wood laminates will absorb water, expand and essentially come apart. Other version use more water-proof methods that means the woods are more water proof, but there is always the element that we are dealing with wood and even the best coatings are still covering wood that can absorb water ... eventually. I was excited to get stated on this project, something I have wanted to do for a long time and when my order arrived from webbwood.comI was all ready to go.
Because these laminate woods are similar to plywoods they are not ideal for those of us who prefer to use flat wood, as in cabinet, box, chair, shelf, table and similar kinds of flat, square projects. These laminate woods look best when they can be integrated into curved, rounded or coved kinds of cuts. It is only in this way that the true colors and laminations can be seen an appreciate, not unlike what wood turners do when they make round things on their lathes. For some time I have wanted to see what kinds of projects can be made that we can use to as features or other elements in our flat wood projects. Things like door handles, door knobes, hinges, design elements in chairs and tables, curved edge in fronts and other similar ideas.
Having never worked with this kind of wood today, naturally I jumped into something I have never done before - make a knife handle ...
Woodworking on it's own is a joy, but when you can work with different kinds of woods, it makes the woodworking even more pleasurable. There are all sorts of different kinds of "figured woods" available like burl, tiger and curly woods, swirls from knots and branches, fiddle back and quilting, birds-eye and much more. Typically these woods are much more expensive than plain wood because they are much more rare so they are used on smaller pieces like special boxes for keepsakes and jewelry, musical instruments like guitars and banjos as well as for around picture frames and other smaller type wooden objects.
Another kind of ornamental wood is something called spalted wood which occurs when the wood is allowed to become wet for a somewhat long period of time and fungus invades the wood and begins a rotting process. In this rotting process the the wood and the fungus combine to often make different colorations inside the wood that is called spalting. In it's early stages the spalting can produce an amazing color with the wood, in it's later stages the fungus can affect the wood so much it that it can become too far rotted and unusable.
In this video we have left the logs to dry slowly for several months and now that they are down to 14% moisture content it's time to cut them into usable planks and let them finish their drying process ...