Storing Green Wood for CarvingA reader asks, "What’s the best way to store the log before working it, and how long do I have to wait for it to be ready for carving?"
I really enjoyed Dave Fisher’s video workshop on carving a greenwood bowl. In the video, Dave makes his creation from a cherry log. I have a nice cherry log in my yard that I’d like to use to try Dave’s technique. What’s the best way to store the log before working it, and how long do I have to wait for it to be ready for carving?
Dave Fisher replies:
My preferred method for storing logs is to leave the bark and paint the end grain with two coats of whatever latex paint I have around. I keep the logs in a relatively shady area. When I’m ready to use one, I cut off an inch or two—or more if necessary to get past checking—from each end and split the log. For parts of the log I can’t get to immediately, I store them in a sealed garbage bag to retain all of the moisture. I use the same method for smaller pieces or when temporarily storing a partially carved bowl. Your Michigan winters will help with longterm bag storage; the bag retains the moisture and the cold temperatures prevent bacteria and mold growth. A refrigerator or freezer can do the same. Save room by getting rid of some bulk from the piece first. In fact, if you remove enough wood and do all of the green carving stage, you can just let the piece dry and revisit it to do the finish carving weeks, or years, later.
I’ve used green wood that had been stored for several months. Wood gets less green but is still usable unless it has rotted or checked too deeply. You can carve wood at any stage, and the process is magical and delightful. There is much more to say about it, and I have more information on storage and drying on my website and blog. For more on carving a bowl, you can also see my article “Carve a Greenwood Bowl,” in FWW #263. Happy carving.
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