Why green wood?

Share experience of timbers and other greenwood materials - learn by other people's mistakes and triumphs.

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Why green wood?

Postby Jan Krobot » Mon Mar 02, 2015 4:36 pm

Hi, I want to ask what is the reason (or are reasons) for using green wood for carving?
From joinery I have learned (from other people and from my own work) that to get best results you need "calm" wood. That mean, besides other things, wood felled in winter (vegetative rest) when it has the lowest content of water and then air dried (never kiln dried). Othervise wood "works" a lot while drying, twirls and cracks.
I thought his would be the same for carving but evidently it's not. I'm reading about making bowls, spoons and other stuff from green wood no matter if winter-felled or summer-felled. The only benefit I can see is that green wood is softer and easier to carve. But I would afraid that anything I would make will crack while drying. Well, maybe it's time to stop being afraid and start to experiment.
All coments welcome:)
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Re: Why green wood?

Postby Peat » Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:14 pm

As you say, green wood is softer and far easier to carve. This is a big reason. You do need to be a little more careful than with seasoned wood because of this. If you are carving something like a bowl or a spoon, aimed to reduce the thickness fairly quickly - items that a relatively thin and of a more uniform thickness are less likely to crack. If you need to put it aside and stop carving for some days, leave it somewhere cold (even a fridge or freezer) and in a plastic bag to reduce moisture loss. Any warping on carved items is usually fairly limited or at least not as detrimental as in a board. Round bowls may go oval. I have had some holly salad servers twist severely out of shape but this is unusual.

I suppose the major reason for greenwood crafts traditionally, is for speed - both in terms of time taken from felling to finished product and through the ease of cleaving and shaping. Generally products made out of green wood are small enough that they are unlikely to split during drying.

Another reason for using green wood in furniture making involves taking advantage of the shrinkage. For example in a frame chair you turn the horizontal spindles first, with oversized tenons, and allow them to dry (ideally getting the moisture content very low, next to a stove or in an oven). Once dry, the tenons are re-turned to the finished dimension. You then drill the holes for the spindles in the still green legs and insert the spindles. When the legs dry they will shrink onto the spindles giving a tight fit and no need for glue.
Hope this makes sense.
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Re: Why green wood?

Postby Jan Krobot » Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:58 pm

Makes perfect sense, thak you.
I have already beegun experimenting with green wood, carved few spoons from willow and maple (acer platanoides). I was realy surprised how soft and easy to carve maple was. Not like seasoned maple at all. I'm looking forward to try green birch, alder and other wood. It's new way of woodcraft for me, love to learn it :)
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Re: Why green wood?

Postby Jan Krobot » Sun Mar 15, 2015 9:29 pm

Hi, I want to ask about your experience in reducing cracking of the wood during drying.
I know few basic rules to get „calm“ wood and thus reduce its movent and the risk of cracking or deformation. Among other things it‘s that tree should be felled in „right time“. It’s supposed to mean vegetative calm during winter when tree has significantly lower content of sap/water. Also is good to fell tree during waning moon, the closer to newmoon the better (with this I already have my own experience, logs felled before newmoon crack significantly less than those felled after newmoon).
So what is your experience with difrences in drying/cracking of bowls, spoons, whatever made from winter-felled wood compared to summer-felled wood? Does winter-felled wood crack less? And what about influence of the moon phases?
Thanks
Jan
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Re: Why green wood?

Postby monkeeboy » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:30 pm

Learn about how wood shrinks - it does it radially (mostly).
Then look at how green wood products are made and see how the shrinkage has been allowed for.
Then enjoy the joy of working with hand tools, not making much noise, not producing dust and getting nice tool finishes.

Then you will have answered your question.
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Re: Why green wood?

Postby Jan Krobot » Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:24 pm

Well I wasn't actualy asking about how to reduce cracking, I'm just curious about other people's experience:) Asking is also good way to learn:)
I LOVE working with hand tools. Axe, plane, draw knife, spokeshave, saw, hand-powered drilling machine... oh and chisel and gouge are my favorits. I also use electrical tools like circular saw or planer but hand tools are real joy. You're much closer to the wood, learning is more intense. But I guess I'm not teling you anything new, am I :)
Thanks monkeeboy
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