Preserving a cherry tree in a sculpture

  • #1
DaveC426913
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@phinds : this is for you.

(posting publicly, for those who might want to chime in)

The time has come to bring down our poor cherry tree. It's been with us since we moved in, 25 years ago. It's finally left this mortal coil (trees can't shuffle).

We'd like to keep a piece of it, and have it made into something. I dunno, maybe a big salad bowl or some such.
Something for the back deck where we picnic.

I'd like to figure out what piece(s) I should ask the arborists to set aside for us (presumably an 18" chunk of the trunk). The primary trunk is about 14" diameter (50" around). A secondary trunk branches off right at the base.


I don't know any wood sculptors. Would you like some money and a nice chunk of cherrywood?

Where are you located in NY? I'm in T'rannah, across the border. I could deliver and pick up.
 
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  • #2
phinds
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Dave,

I'm in Cortland, NY half way between Birmingham and Syracuse. Not too terribly far from you. The biggest problem is that the wood has to be successfully dried. Many turners will rough turn the wood green and then leave it in a bag of shavings for a couple of months and then final-turn it but I only work w/ dried wood. There are a ton of turners on Wood Barter forum that would likely be a better help for this project. Give me a minute and I'll do a pic of the best cuts.

Paul

If the crotch is solid, that's a good place to get a bowl blank that will have some figure for sure but if the crotch is weak then a bole section is best. I'd do both just in case unless the crotch is deeply cracked in which case I'd just do 2 bole blanks.

001.jpg
 
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  • #3
DaveC426913
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Is that *your* site??
 
  • #4
phinds
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Is that *your* site??
No, I run a sub-forum on wood identification but it's not my site. Lots of friendly folks there though and by coincidence they use the same underlying server code as PF, just not as extensively modified and customized as what Greg has done here.
 
  • #5
OmCheeto
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Would you like the crotch from a 50 year old Rhody?

2017.06.17.fifty.year.old.rhody.crotch.png


Not very big. Do you make little bowls?

Some bugs killed it about 4 years ago, and I saw from your list of woods that Rhododendron was missing, so I saved it for you.
I don't really know how old it is, but it didn't grow at all in height for the 25 years I lived here.
Any idea where I should cut it to find the total number of growth rings?
I saved the bottom 5 feet.

ps. I saw this video yesterday, and thought of you.

 
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  • #6
phinds
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@OmCheeto that is a VERY cool video. Thanks for posting. I love it. I know the guys over on the wood forums will too.

Rhododendron is one of the few woods that didn't make it onto my site that probably should have. I even have full sets of pics of 3 formal samples. I'll probably add it some day.

As for the bowls I really only do laminated ones. On very rare occasions I've done solid wood bowls but I don't prefer it. I thank you for the offer though.
Why do some people collect matchbook covers? I'm a woodworker. I work with exotics and am interested in them.

bowls-jpg.jpg


View attachment 97190
 
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  • #7
OmCheeto
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@OmCheeto that is a VERY cool video. Thanks for posting. I love it. I know the guys over on the wood forums will too.

Rhododendron is one of the few woods that didn't make it onto my site that probably should have. I even have full sets of pics of 3 formal samples. I'll probably add it some day.

As for the bowls I really only do laminated ones. On very rare occasions I've done solid wood bowls but I don't prefer it. I thank you for the offer though.
Well, I have some good news and bad news. The good news is, after I chainsawed the lower crotch off, I found that ants had been busy turning the stump into a bowl for me. I chopped off another 10 inches, and missed the end of their work by 1 inch. So now I have a really tall bowl, or maybe a flower pot.
The bad news was, that I didn't have to buy a lathe after all, as they did 90% of of the work for me.
The good news is, that I'll probably pick up a lathe anyways, (I've always wanted one.) as this wood is REALLY hard, and I've been planning on making a wood capstan for my boat.
My boat is all wood, and I don't really like the look of chrome or stainless steel that most people recommend I get.

2017.06.18.60.plus.year.old.rhody.png


ps. I tried counting the rings after sanding down the end with 60 and 150 grit sandpaper, and lost track around 60 rings.
I was able to bring out a bit of contrast by spritzing it with Murphy's wood oil soap, as the rings were almost invisible without it.

2017.06.18.60.plus.year.old.rhody.end.png

Long diameter is about 6". Short diameter is about 4 ½ inches.
The trunk is consistently these dimensions for about 30 inches.
Let me know if you want a chunk. I'll gladly pay the shipping, as I really enjoy looking at your work.
 
  • #8
phinds
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Well, that's very kind of you. Yes, I think I WOULD like a chunk as this will give me an impetus to put rhododendron up on the site. I'll PM you my address. What would really be great is couple of rough planks with one being quartersawn and one being flat cut, OR a bole section just over 6" long from which I can make my own quartersawn and flat cut pieces.
 
  • #9
OmCheeto
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Well, that's very kind of you. Yes, I think I WOULD like a chunk as this will give me an impetus to put rhododendron up on the site. I'll PM you my address. What would really be great is couple of rough planks with one being quartersawn and one being flat cut, OR a bole section just over 6" long from which I can make my own quartersawn and flat cut pieces.
I have no idea what you just said.
Can you tell just tell me where to cut?
Here are a couple of images:

2017.06.18.rhody.wood.3.pieces.png


2017.06.18.rhody.wood.3.pieces.upside.down.png


Any recommendations on "sterilizing" the wood? It's full of lots of live things. I was thinking of putting it in the oven at 200°F for about 12 hours. Not sure if that will kill the 3000 types of fungi/slime molds/ants/wood beetles/pill bugs/spiders/ET AL! I've seen that have infested it.
(It's rained here 300 out of the last 200 days........)

Here are your options for sizes:
USPS medium flat rate box size: 11" x 8-1/2" x 5-1/2"
USPS large flat rate box size: 12" x 12" x 5-1/2"
The big chuck only weighs 10.5 kg so I think we're safe on the weight limit.
 
  • #10
phinds
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An 8" chunk right off the end of the bole would be great and I think it should fit in the MFRB
upload_2017-6-18_20-17-8.png


As for cleaning out the critters, I have no idea and that's one of the reasons I only work with dry wood. Microwaving IS one of the things I've read about that supposedly works, you just have to be careful not to leave it in for so long that it damages the cell structure of the wood.
 
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  • #11
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What's the stuff archaeologists use to preserve wooden artefacts found in wet ground ??

My FIL progressively stabilised some 'dubious' green timber with polyethylene glycol, then turned several wondrous bowls from it. IIRC, the PEG safety instructions are extensive, and should be followed with due care. .

FIL also did stuff like warily microwave chunks of sound but green timber, and 'corset lace' a deep bowl / pot that split at a late stage...
 
  • #12
Tom.G
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IIRC most critters do not do well above 140F and above 190F are pretty much exterminated, although exposure time is also a factor. Any Biology types around to amplify on this?

I've had good results killing off heavy mildew in old, water damaged books by putting them in the microwave. You just have to be very careful with the temperature. Once you get a hint of the characteristic "wood" smell, shut down, let it cool a bit, and try to keep below that point on the next pass. Wood ignites at 451F and chars below that. You also need to vary what pages you have opened since the non-exposed pages get the hottest in a microwave. For those that try it with a book, be aware that paperback books are held together with hot-melt glue that readily softens at the needed temperature!
 
  • #13
OmCheeto
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An 8" chunk right off the end of the bole would be great and I think it should fit in the MFRB
View attachment 205724

As for cleaning out the critters, I have no idea and that's one of the reasons I only work with dry wood. Microwaving IS one of the things I've read about that supposedly works, you just have to be careful not to leave it in for so long that it damages the cell structure of the wood.
After about 2 hours of research, I decided to build a makeshift kiln dryer.

Kiln drying wood
The temperatures employed in kiln drying typically kill all the fungi and insects in the wood if a maximum dry-bulb temperature of above 60 °C [140°F] is used for the drying schedule.

I think I'll repurpose the solar thermal collector materials my sister talked me into buying. She's flying in to visit in two days, and I'm certain she'll complain that I never finished that project.

If that doesn't work, I'll throw it in the microwave.
 
  • #14
OmCheeto
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9 am, and the surface temperature is already up to 160°F!

[edit: 199°F @ 9:20 am :bugeye:
hopefully, I don't burn down the neighborhood.

Internal wood temperature: 76.5°F
Probably residual from when I drilled the hole.
ps. I cut the log to 10", so I could monitor internal temps.
pps. The residual "legged" bugs are not happy. :oldcry:]

[edit #2: 221°F @ 9:40 am :oldsurprised:
core wood temperature: 91.7°F
did not check to see if there were any stubborn bugs

fascinating varying positional surface temperatures of the oven
It's almost, like, science, works.]
 
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  • #15
phinds
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Yeah, if I had thought you would have any interest in that sort of thing I would have recommended a home made kiln. They're very popular on the wood working forums and do a great job except on those rare occasions when a particular kind of wood needs a fairly tightly controlled kiln schedule.
 
  • #16
OmCheeto
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Yeah, if I had thought you would have any interest in that sort of thing I would have recommended a home made kiln. They're very popular on the wood working forums and do a great job except on those rare occasions when a particular kind of wood needs a fairly tightly controlled kiln schedule.
Well, in my defense, woodworking is now my 300th hobby.
People were all up in my face before I retired; "What are you gonna do!? What are you gonna do!?"
Me; "I have hobbies. Don't know what your problem is."

But anyways, wood core temperature is up to 130°F, as of 10:40 am.

[edit: wood core temperature was up to 138°F @ noon, in spite of the fact that this was an "≈ fixed plate" experiment, and maximum furnace temp had dropped to 152°F when I checked.
ps. Plates are now semi-mobile. Until my 50 year old hinges break, that is.]

Fun experiment.

It might take me months to analyze the surface temperature profiles of my black garden flower pot thingy, and figure out all the related maths.

2017.06.19.just.some.solar.science.stuff.png


But I probably won't even bother, as this is going to be a VERY busy summer.
 
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  • #18
OmCheeto
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Cool kiln.
Thanks!
Final core temperature was 141°F.
And just in the nick of time, as my trees have decided it's time to turn off the kiln.

You really have to plan ahead when solar powered.
(I still can't believe I had everything set up by 9 am this morning.)

2017.06.19.1pm.pst.oms.house.png
 
  • #19
OmCheeto
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Uh oh. What was that term I heard yesterday? "Checking"? aka "CRACKS!" :oldcry:

2017.06.19.checking.in.my.wood.png


Again, in my defense, this is my first try.

Do you still want this? I have two more segments of this length and size. As I mentioned earlier, I thought of at least 6 ways to kill the bugs, 3 of which might also kill me. A seventh option would be to just quadruple bag a log, and let you worry about the bugs.

ps. Maybe if I stick it in the freezer, the "checks" will "cold weld" themselves back together. :oldeyes:
 
  • #20
DaveC426913
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aka "CRACKS!" :oldcry:

Do you still want this? I have two more segments of this length and size. ...
ps. Maybe if I stick it in the freezer, the "checks" will "cold weld" themselves back together. :oldeyes:
Turn that flaw into a part of the art.

Fill the cracks with gold. Or something golden, anyway..

goldinfill-pottery.jpg
 
  • #21
OmCheeto
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Turn that flaw into a part of the art.

Fill the cracks with gold. Or something golden, anyway..

View attachment 205788
Ummmm.... The largest crack is only about 1/128" wide.

2017.06.19.rhody.crack.crop.1.64th.inch.gradations.png

(tick marks are 1/64" apart)

I suppose we could poke some gold leaf in there with a needle.

I'm now thinking this may be normal for hard woods. When I replaced the oak keel in my boat about 14 years ago, the cracks were nearly 1/16" wide.
I have no idea how I kept that thing afloat.
Wait! It's made of wood. Duh.

Anyways, I pfoogled, and found that I posted that the Rhody was dead in June of 2014. So it had been air drying/rain soaking for 3 years, before I baked it this morning. [ref]
 
  • #22
OmCheeto
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A ha! I didn't ruin it!
Just checked the uncooked pieces in the back yard, and it's all cracked.

2017.06.20.natural.cracks.in.rhody.wood.png


I'm guessing the reason I didn't notice them before, was because I wasn't looking for them.
And sanding the one end filled the cracks with dust.

ps. Anyone know if rhody dust is toxic? I breathed a bit in while sanding and my nose would not quit itching afterwords. Can you be allergic to wood?
 
  • #23
DaveC426913
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I breathed a bit in while sanding and my nose would not quit itching afterwords. Can you be allergic to wood?
You sure can. I have general environmental allergies - such things as cut grass and dust.
i
I have been doing a LOT of power tool work with pressure-treated lumber in the last month, so as long s I'm still kickin', you're probably OK.

I have noticed something interesting. For all the sawdust I've kicked up cutting PT, it hasn't really bothered my allergies all that much.But the moment I hauled home some 1x2s of plan ol' lumber (pine? spruce?) my allergies kicked up a fuss. I wonder of one can be allergic to certain varietals of wood...

Actually, I wonder if the nature of PT wood is that it tends to keep down the dust.
 
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  • #24
DaveC426913
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Ummmm.... The largest crack is only about 1/128" wide.
That would look gorgeous filled with gold. (Or something less expensive.)

I would make molten "gold" and pour it in, then sand it down. (or fill 95% of the crack with aluminum, then teh last few mm with gold)

That tiny amount would hold little heat so it likely wouldn't burn the wood before it cooled.
 
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  • #25
Joann Smith
I must say the art is very nice.
 

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