Hey guys, any way I can avoid this situation in the future?
microwaving is the way to go in my opinion. works almost every time and is a lot faster than letting it dry on its own. choosing forks that have fallen from trees or attached to fallen trees is also an option because those forks are typically dry, but sometimes the wood is brittle on these fallen forks.Well, as the old saying goes, there are 3 ways to get any result, Fast, Easy, and Right. A person can pic any two of the 3.
What you got is what happens when you pick the first two. If you pick fast and right, it's a little harder. If you pick easy and right, it takes a long time.
For the sake of quick typing, I'll take the third option first. The right way to get a fork dry without a lot of effort is to leave the bark on it, seal the ends with glue or paint or wax or something, and just leave it alone for 6 months to a year depending on size. it will dry out nice and gently, so that the fibers on the outside of the wood don't dry and shrink so much more than the ones in the middle that the outer layers crack, which allows moisture to get away faster, which causes it to shrink more, which makes the crack bigger, ect. Takes friggin forever.
The right way to do it fast is much harder, on everything except your patience. There are a bunch of tricks that wood turners use on rough turned bowls, and that people who are cutting pen blanks do when cutting a bunch of blanks from a green piece of wood. But, the one that seems to work best for tree forks wanting to become slingshots, is to microwave them. Of course it's not perfect, and there is a certain percentage of failure. But if you do it right, you can get a dry, uncracked fork to work with in a day or two. The secret is that by microwaving the wood, you dry the inside and the outside layers at about the same rate, driving the water out in the form of steam from the whole fork at once. The trick is knowing when to stop. Too soon and there is still moisture in the wood, so when you bark it and cut to shape, Poof, it cracks on ya. Too long, and the wood is damaged from the heat, (and if you are trying to use moms microwave, the smell of burning wood is bound to get you in trouble!) Get it just right and let the fork cool thoroughly, (like overnight) and it will be stable enough to not crack when you peel the bark off the next day. You can weigh it to see if it gets lighter each time you nuke it for a minute, and when it quits losing weight, it's about dry. or you can put it in a big ziplock bag, so that any moisture that is driven out of the wood condenses on the inside of the bag, and when that quits happening, it's almost dry. I'm sure there are other tricks out there as well. or you can do like me and just keep messing up forks till you kinda develop a feel for it.
anyway, that's my 2 cents on the issue, YMMV, as always.