Here in the NY area we just had a terrible wind storm that brought down lots of mature hardwood trees. A neighbor lost a very big beech tree. The tree service doing the clean up gave me two sections of the trunk that I hope to use to make rustic coffee tables. Each segment is approximately 3ft diameter and about 6 inches thick. This wood is very heavy as it is totally saturated with water/sap. My question is how should I store these rounds and what is the procedure to season them so they don't split or have minimal splitting and also don't become infested with bugs? I have read other posts suggesting using PEG but don't understand how to go about doing everything.
by JohnWW in reply to mikelv [original] on Sun, 03/21/2010 - 18:23
PEG is a waxy substance that is dissolved in water. When green wood is soaked in a PEG solution the PEG soaks into the wood. Once a sufficient amount of PEG is in the wood it can then be dried out without the normal shrinkage and cracking. PEG is considered non toxic and the treated wood handles and finishes more or less like untreated wood although not all finishes will work on PEG treated wood.
The rounds should be prevented from drying out until they can be submerged in a vat of PEG solution. However the wet wood will begin to have mold growing on within a matter of days or weeks at most, so you need to get started soon on ordering some PEG and finding or building a big enough vat to submerge the rounds in.
If you do a Google search for "Using PEG on wood" you will get a lot of detailed information. This PDF from the University of Oregon covers the process in some detail: owic.oregonstate.edu/pubs/peg.pdf
John White Shop Manager for FWW Magazine, 1998 to 2007
One other link I found in the google search was to www.preservation-solutions.com/sealgreen... They recommend something called Pentacryl instead of PEG. They state, "Instead, I'd recommend a wood stabilizer called Pentacryl (Preservation-Solutions.com). It brushes on and penetrates quickly, making it suitable for both large and small pieces. And it doesn't leave a residue, so you can use any glue and finish after the wood dries." This sounds much more suitable to my situation since I wouldn't need to fabricate a big vat to soak the rounds in. However, since they also sell this stuff I am a touch skeptical. They also feature a review by Michael Dresdner who seems pretty enthusiastic about Pentacryl.
polythene glycol will leave the wood like the wood on the VASA. Its not something that will leave it in a condition for further carving. PEG is used to restore boats and wood that is close to rotting and is a slow but complex process.
THey use a lathed treated post that is fairly stout and lasts for decades (Our old locust posts just rotted after 10 years, too humid here).