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"Crafter"
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Ouch ... More info needed, did you "fry dry" microwave, did you air dry out of direct sunlight etc and do you seal the ends of your cut wood to avoid over drying ? Mine tend to check if I allow them to much sun time , I live in the uk and our sun is not to powerful but even after just several days in a sunny spot I can render a fork useless, also certain species check easier than others though I am not aware of the order/scale of this ...
 

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TeamPFS
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
No sun, no microwave... Peeled the bark and put it in a drawer for about a month.
Carved it up a few days ago, and then it started to split immediately.
I didnt "seal the ends" ... do you mean with wax, or?

Is some sort of sealant a must on naturals? I really dont like shiny wood!

Thanks for the input...
 

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Over 9001 Warning Points!
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Try leaving the bark on and gluing the ends next time
 

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Cogito Ergo Armatum Sum
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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.
 

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TeamPFS
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
jskeen! Thank you so much for taking the time to post that.

I have heard of the microwave drying technique before but ironically was 'too precious' to try it thinking I might fry them.
Like you said, I will probably try an develop a feel for this by drying some wood that I dont plan on making into forks.

Also I didnt know that you might want to give the wood a whole year to dry! Although as I type this I think I heard Rufus say that in an interview.

Again, I really appreciate the time and expertise.
 

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Registered
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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.
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.
 

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Over 9001 Warning Points!
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another one i forgot was the box o sawdust or shredded paper. leave it in it for a few weeks packed pretty tight, works pretty decently
 

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Premium Member
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All good info, I also cut mine an inch or two longer than I want my finished fork.
 

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Premium Member
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Yes, all good info given above. I might add here that when I cut wood forks, I cut them longer than I need them and
leave the bark on for the first few weeks, or month, and rarely do they crack beyond the first inch or so in. That's
the wood I'm harvesting up here in Canada, and given our temp, humitidy, etc.

I've had a few pieces crack like the one shown in the pic, but it's not very often. I'd suggest and I mean this respectfully
that we peel our forks way too quickly and ought to, especially if you are not wanting to work on the wood right away leave the bark on until you decide what you want to do with it.

Recently I harvested a wood that is very prone to splitting, sometimes the entire length of the fork, stick, so I melted up
some wax and dipped the ends in and so far they are perfect albeit drying slowly.
I also harvest when the leaves aren't on the trees and the sap's not running this can be helpful as the wood isn't as green and prone to cracking/checking.
 
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