Author Topic: Pig fat and drying wood  (Read 3337 times)

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Offline OTDEAN

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Pig fat and drying wood
« on: September 15, 2016, 05:57:59 pm »
So for a few years now I have roughed out Elm and Ash to near bow dimensions and left the wood to dry with the ends covered in glue to slow moisture release.  I have had mixed results.  Sometimes, especially the Elm, I got a lot of lateral warping which would ruin the stave. 

I was reading an old book about how the Irish made Shillelaugh fighting sticks from blackthorn by cutting it green and then covering the entire stick with pig fat and then sticking it inside the chimney of the cottage and left to dry.  I know blackthorn checks like crazy so thought I would give the pig fat ago.  Have just got 4 Elm staves drying now, all covered with pig fat and not one has warped so far.  Can't believe something so simple was a great way to protect the wood so the moisture would release slowly out of the wood.  Has anyone done this drying technique?  IF you have, how long does it take bow wood cut to near bow dimensions to dry out when covered totally in animal fat?


Offline Eric Garza

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Re: Pig fat and drying wood
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2016, 07:33:53 pm »
I've never used pig fat, but have used bear fat for this purpose. I had better results than just leaving elm staves un-treated, but it still didn't save all of them. I didn't try to push it and see how soon I could use a roughed-out stave, I still waited a year or so. If you want to see how long it takes them to dry, get a kitchen scale that can weigh down to the nearest gram and weigh the stave every few days until it stops losing weight. The weight it's losing is moisture, so once its weight stabilizes that means it's done losing moisture. Be mindful that if you really caked the fat on, some of the weight lost might be fat that sticks to your fingers, to the scale or to other things.

Offline DC

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Re: Pig fat and drying wood
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2016, 08:13:05 pm »
It may work but there's got to be a tidier method. I use plastic tubes(bags) with the ends left open for difficult to dry wood. You have to check it daily for a while to make sure there is no condensation but it does work, it's clean and any finish you decide to put on it will stay on it.

Offline PatM

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Re: Pig fat and drying wood
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2016, 09:01:26 pm »
Greasing wood and sticking it in the "chimney" was the Native American method too, in certain areas.


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Re: Pig fat and drying wood
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2016, 09:14:31 pm »
I tried it on a few with lard.  For me, I saw no real difference.  Granted, they were in my garage so...plenty warm but not like a fireplace.  The clean up was tougher as well.  Just easier to let them dry over time for me.
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Offline BowEd

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Re: Pig fat and drying wood
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2016, 08:36:50 am »
What Pat M said is true.In the tipi bows were suspended above the fire pit.Beaver grease/bear fat used on the bow etc.It had 2 benefits I think.Keeping it nice and dry and the smoke film helped for waterproofing too to a degree.Bear in mind dust and dirt will collect and stick to dirty up your nice clean bow then though too.I believe native americans had more than one bow in the works so to speak.Necessaity  being the reasons.
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Offline DuBois

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Re: Pig fat and drying wood
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2016, 11:37:14 am »
I was camping couple years ago and cut some sapling ash that I roughed out with hatchet and happened to have citronella candles that had burned way down and left a "pot of wax" that I rubbed them down with after debarking. No problems on them. Now if I can get it to work with lilac that would be something  ;)

Offline Dakota Kid

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Re: Pig fat and drying wood
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2016, 04:16:06 pm »
You gotta use the plastic bag /tube method for lilac. Even then it checks sometimes.
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