Author Topic: How to properly season plum and cherry wood?  (Read 574 times)

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Offline BJung

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How to properly season plum and cherry wood?
« on: January 15, 2022, 09:59:13 pm »
Hi. I am new here and need advice. I have a plumwood trunk and one additional 3-1/2" plum tree and cherry tree I can harvest. They are tall enough to make an adult lenght longbow and there are no major branches I've noticed growing from them near the base. They just grew straight up. I cut the first tree down in December, sealed the ends with tar, and placed it in a garage for drying. I'm worried about damaging the other two and am leaving the trees alone. My plan is to practice carving a plum branch I've harvesting to make a kids bow for my grand nephew. The trees were originally my grandparent's trees so the grand nephew is getting a bow made from wood originating from his Great great grandparents. I'm reading Traditional Bowyers Bible 1 now and would like to make a tillering blade with a leave spring I have and can grind and edge on it. Does this blade need to be straight? The question I have now is: How can I best season the plum wood without it checkering?

Offline bownarra

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Re: How to properly season plum and cherry wood?
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2022, 02:05:59 am »
Plum is a hard wood to dry without checking. Personally I'd seal the ends and leave it somewhere cool and dark for a year or so. Or you can rough out the bow, again seal the ends and hope you! If you do this and want good odds you should rough the bow out then put the whole stave in a plastic bag and seal the bag. It wouldn't hurt to fill the bag with wood shavings. This slows the intial moisture loss - which is the problem! Once it has lost a good amount of moisture in the bag you can start opening it a little, gradually over a few weeks exposing the stave to lower RH.
The cherry isn't anywhere near as hard to dry. Split it and seal the ends.

Offline Eric Krewson

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Re: How to properly season plum and cherry wood?
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2022, 09:21:39 am »
I was told when I cut some green cherry for gunstocks that it was hard to season without checking, my solution to combat surface checking is to put one coat of shellac on the entire stock blank. One coat of shellac won't stop a stave from curing but will stop the rapid release of moisture from the surface wood. I came up with this idea myself, I didn't read it anywhere.

I had zero checking in the wood I cut, it was stored in my shop which gets mighty hot inside in the summer.

This is some heavy duty chainsaw work, it took several days to cut up the logs.



« Last Edit: January 16, 2022, 02:01:47 pm by Eric Krewson »

Offline organic_archer

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Re: How to properly season plum and cherry wood?
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2022, 12:51:37 pm »
I cut some black cherry last week, and by the time I had the tree processed and loaded up everything was checking badly. They were too far gone by the time the two hour drive home was over. I wonít cut cherry again. Our humidity has been really low though.

Have had good luck with plum by leaving the bark on and sealing the ends with a heavy coat if wood glue.
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Offline BJung

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Re: How to properly season plum and cherry wood?
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2022, 04:05:11 pm »
Thanks to all for your advice. I'll let them dry in the garage for a year. I live in CA and the climate is like Sonoma and Napa Valley and the temperature in the garage is like 60-65 degrees (guessing). I read somewhere on the internet that the tree trunk facing facing North needs to be marked. I assume it's the way the tree goes but have not read this requirement in the Traditional Bowyers Bible Book. Does this make a difference or do you shape your staves around how the growth rings are compressing?

Offline organic_archer

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Re: How to properly season plum and cherry wood?
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2022, 04:58:52 pm »
I donít personally pay any attention to the orientation of the trunk. Some staves are reaction wood, which is under stress in the living tree, and warp badly during drying. Those go in the B pile for a rainy day. Other than that, a good stave is a good stave. Maybe others here have had different experiences.
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Offline Pappy

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Re: How to properly season plum and cherry wood?
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2022, 08:40:50 am »
I have personally had more trouble with fruit wood getting ate up with bug/worms than with checking, I would take the bark off soon as possible and seal the whole thing with wood glue or shellac, then put it in a not so hot dry place for a few months then move it to a dryer environment. Not sure if the bugs are in the bark or just find it , but either way the only safe way I have found to keep them away is take the bark off. Good luck.
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