Block of white oak

victory_tea2085October 16, 2010

Just bought a 4'x 2'x3" block of white oak to use for a counter top. It's green- is there anyway to keep it from checking? Thanks

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brickeyee

"It's green- is there anyway to keep it from checking?"

Say a lot of prayers, incantations, and maybe throw a spell or two.

Slow drying can reduce checking, along with coating the ends of the board to prevent excessive rapid water loss from the end grain.

Larger and thicker pieces tend to have more chances to check though.

You could look through the Wood Engineering Handbook.

Here is a link that might be useful: USDA Wood Handbook

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 4:13PM
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victory_tea2085

Thanks Brickeyes, would a rotary sander work best to sand this block?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 9:59AM
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brickeyee

After it is dry that should work.

It is going to leave some cross grain scratches though.

A random orbit might be a better choice, or even a quick pass with a belt sander if the wood is not surfaced.

You also might be able to find a real lumber yard with a wide enough sander to run it through for just a few dollars.

I think I paid about $40 to have a 13 foot long x 26 inch wide 5/4 cherry slab sanded on both sides.

I did get a price break for helping the guy move the board around though.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 11:44AM
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victory_tea2085

Yes, I have my eye on a random orbit on e-bay. I did some research yesterday and what I surmised is the random orbit is probably the best choice if you had only one sander to choose from. Thanks again- Paul

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 1:25PM
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victory_tea2085

I did seal the sides of the block, have a minor check near the edge on one side. I am keeping the block in the unheated garage and wonder how long to ( did get my random orbit sander) wait to sand it? Thanks for the help. Paul

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 9:40AM
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brickeyee

About a year per inch of thickness.

It is not a project for the impatient.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 5:18PM
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victory_tea2085

Can't wait that long- I'm gonna cut it to size. sand it, place it and lacquer it when it gets done checking. I,m not always adverse to checking- it could be interesting.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 9:16PM
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victory_tea2085

Didn't mean to sound so terse, anyhow Brickeye, what do you think of this idea? I do think I would paint the edges once it's cut to size.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 7:44AM
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brickeyee

You can take a shot at finishing, but that can actually cause more warping.

High water content also can allow fungus and mold attack.

You can also have adhesion problems with the finish.

The way wood moisture content is computed is by weighing a sample, drying it, then weighing it again.

The moisture content is wet weight divided by dried weight, and the result can be over 100%.

That means that the waster weighed more than the actual wood weighs.

There is not much movement until you get below the fiber saturation point, and then shrinkage starts.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 11:19AM
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aidan_m

You don't have the time to let it air dry, and you said you think the checking will be interesting.

Dry it out completely by whatever means you have, allowing it to check until it becomes stable. Then fill all the checks with resin. I recommend Easycast, which is perfect for filling voids in wood. You can topcoat with lacquer, varnish, or table top resin; they're all compatible.

Here is a link that might be useful: clear casting resin

    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 1:42PM
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brickeyee

"Dry it out completely by whatever means you have, allowing it to check until it becomes stable. "

Without some type of wood drying oven, you are looking at a year per inch for 'air dried' wood.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 5:00PM
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aidan_m

Know anybody with a dry sauna?

    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 6:09PM
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brickeyee

Depending on the size of the piece a simple drying oven can be made from 2 inch foil faced foam insulation.

Use foil tape to seal all the joints.

You can even put them together by simply pushing nails through one piece of insulation and into another.

A couple of light bulbs supply the heat.

You can even use a thermostat to turn the bulbs on and off to maintain a stable temperature.
A line voltage thermostat will work without any relays or low voltage wiring.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 5:18PM
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aidan_m

How long do you think that slab would need to dry out in a homemade box?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 11:58AM
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brickeyee

"How long do you think that slab would need to dry out in a homemade box?"

Probably just a few weeks.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 12:21PM
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victory_tea2085

I think I will cut it to size and place it, without any sanding or varnish. Then finish it when a couple years have passed. Would this work??

    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 2:54PM
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aidan_m

"I think I will cut it to size and place it, without any sanding or varnish. Then finish it when a couple years have passed. Would this work??"

No, it will not work. A wood countertop must be finished uniformly on all sides after it is dried to a stable moisture level. As soon as the wood dries out below the saturation level, it will really start to move. It will become a cupped or domed countertop, no matter how tight you fasten it to the cabinets. You can't sand out a warp.

You could place it loose and flip it every week to combat the warpage.

The unfinished wood will absorb everything it comes in contact with.

It seems like you already have decided how to do it, so do what you want and then learn from the experience.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 4:42PM
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victory_tea2085

aidan, I haven't already decided, though, I may have made it sound like it. I'm really impressed with the amount of knowledge people like brickeyee and yourslf have about raw wood. I liked your idea about flipping the block every week. I,m going to continue to ponder the project and am very open to any suggestions. Thanks to all!!!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 7:09PM
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aidan_m

I encourage you to try Brick's homemade box idea. You may find the box useful for other projects.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 12:10PM
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victory_tea2085

Just visited and old friend of mine who runs a Wood_Mizer dealership. He has oak, already cured and is going to fixme up. I will keep the block of white oak and observe what it does. Dave told me that white oak is one of the more difficult woods to cure. I want to thank everyone who contributed- I learned a lot!!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 6:55PM
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