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Corect procedure?

Marijan Radaljac

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I`m going to buy two or three trunks of winter timbered spruce

trees. Wood is coming from Slovenian alpine plateau Pokljuka, which

is known as a source of one of the best resonant spruce wood in

general. Trees will be picked up by the forester

engineer, by his experience and his knowledge of resonant wood and

after that I should be the one to chouse the trunks I want.

I was planing to cut out the pieces of trunks ca 0,5m long and

split them there. Check if it has a narrow growth and even

narrow spacing of grain. (maybe hit them with big hammer to

see if it rings)

Than the trunks should be transported in front of my house. Sawn to

1/2m an 1m pieces. Split in twelfths  and those on half if the

diameter of the trunk would allow that.

Saw the split pieces (blanks) on half leaving small area un

sawn to keep half's together.

Melt bees wax and protect blanks ends with it.

Store it under the roof and leave it therefor a three years. Move

blanks in inside in the place with still quite high but

stabile humidity for additional year and start to transport blanks

in workshop as needed. Some 20 at time, approx. two year


Basically that is the process as I see it. Since I do not have an

experience with this, any suggestion would be appreciated.

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Originally posted by:

Thanks for reply Saint John.

Since nobody is arguing or sugesting anything,  It looks

like I do. That`s graet.

Hi Marijan,

I hought if you go as far as buying some trees you must know about or study the preparations and seasoning. From your first post it looks like you put in some homework.

Perhaps a few sugestions: the first meter from the ground might be too heavy for instruments.

I would always start splitting from the end that was nearest to the ground.

Sealing the end grain might make seasoning longer as the moisture can escape easier from the end grain in spruce. The way you intend seasoning your wood would not split the ends. However it is up to you.

I wish you good luck with the wood and your making.

Cheers Wolfjk

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Hi Wolfjk,

I did my homework in a theoretical manner, as one can do it sitting

at home, reading, browsing and talking with foresters. That`s all.

I have a general idea how it should be done, what are the growth

demands of trees, and I know that Pokljuka is quite famous for it`s

resonant spruce, a lot of it was sold in Italy in Cremona

masters time. But as many of you I never done that before. It is

the first time for everything.

It was kind of logical to me to ask here on MN.

In any case I do not want to miss a chance to put my hands on that

trunks, that has every chance to be of high quality. Risks are on

me, I`ll be glad to take it, and learning something about procedure

will not do any harm.

It would be a shame to treat the wood incorrectly, that is why I

asked for tips or suggestions, what to do or better what not to do

if I want to have good well prepared wood.

Thank you very much Wolfjk for yours, I didn`t know for example

that the wood, 1m from ground is to heavy. I intended to seal the

ends because I had a bad experience with maple (which does react


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David, thank you. Since there are a different approaches about seal

or not to seal the ends (some tone wood sellers do that some

don`t) I`ll try to get some moore opinions from forester

engineers about that.

Bud? As I can see till now, most of  dealers use a circular

saw for sawing splits?

First (venetian) water saws in Slovenija came on the scene in14th

century. That is what it was used in Strad times I suspect for that

kind of work, if sawing the splits was a practice at all. It would

make moore sense just to split the splits on half again and

store it that way. Is the fear of twisting the reason to leave it

connected. On sawn piece that can be an issue, but why on


Sawing splits, if we are talking only about split blanks (not sawn

out of the middle plank, wood block) serve just to easier and moore

even moisture drain out. On the other hand again, some of wood

sellers do not saw the blanks at all. Consequence will be longer

drying, anything else?


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I did this last winter with a great Czech lute maker (who uses only his own dried spruce), so if you do not mind I add some of my knowledge and observations. Sorry if what I say is too obvious.

When we chose trunks, our first concern was grain, which should be (1) regular (i think it does not matter t hat it is narrow at the edge and wider in the centre if the transition is regular) and the (2) narrow, and I think it is better when the growth rings form circles, because I think trunks with ellipses of different orientation usually have a wavy split (runout up and down along the split). On roughly sawn tree trunks the growth rings are not so easily detectable, therefore it is good to have a srub plane or a gouge on you to be able to cut a groove from the middle to the bark to see the grain in better detail.

Then our concerns where knots, which are usually detectable under the bark.

Then we tried to avoid trunks with runout, which is apparent when you pull a longer splinter from under the bark. The lower part of the tree usually has more runout (but less knots - so there you have a dilema).

Then I was told the wood shall be split to fourths or eights and let dry for one year and only then split to smaller pieces. You shall see after the split how much runout you have and whether you can afford further splitting. Choose the splitting lines perpendicularly on lines and at the places where there are knots in the wood.

The first year of the seasoning shall be as slow as possible (to prevent cracking), therefore it is best to keep the wood outside out of reach of the sun, with access of rain (but not too much of course) (in dry periods, the wood shall be watered, on the other hand). Also free air flow is necessary.

We use paraffin to seal it to prevent cracks - we melt it in a saucepan and a brush and then use a heat pistol or an iron to speed up the soaking into the wood) (first split-then use wax!). Also it helps prevent the cracks if the bark is left on the trunks till the end of the first summer (but do not forget to remove it, otherwise the worms from the bark will try to hide in your wood from winter).

I hope this has been of help.


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Matej, thank you for your contribution. When you do something for

the first time (or second or third) nothing is to obvious. it can

be confusing, though. Interesting idea, which I wold not use

(afraid of bugs and worms) is to leave the bark on. And it never

occurred me that the wetting could be implied during the seasoning.

I had an intention to make a improvised roof on the north side of

the house (away from direct sun) and leave it there three years


Thanks David, that is what I had in mind thinking about sealing

technique. It is obvious that there is some disagreement regarding

closing the ends of the splits with paraffin or wax. I had an

impression that, like Matej say,  the drying should go slowly,

and that that is the main reason to seal the ends. To prevent

quick dry out, specially on the beginning of the drying process. It

depend of the average local humidity a lot I suspect.

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End grain dries fastest. If the ends dry and contract while the rest of the piece is still bulked from moisture, cracks on the ends are more likely. The idea is to get the wood to dry more evenly. Sealing isn't the only way, but cheap insurance in my opinion, more important as the pieces get larger.

The downside of sealing is getting rid of all the wax before using the wood. I wouldn't want my plane to drag any wax residue onto the center joint gluing surface.

I've also used paint. Not as good a moisture barrier as wax, and usually contains abrasives, but won't smear around, and it's easier to see where any residue remains.

Maybe Bruce "tonewoods" will comment. I may have gotten some wood from him which wasn't sealed.

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as for the bark on, that is what I heard and it seems to make sense to me, because the worms in bark really do not go to wood sooner that in autumn. At least so it is with the typical worms in my country. But I must admitt, that I did it this way and was delayng the debarking (up to late october), which is much more complicated when the wood is partially dry and as result of this I got some worms into the wood. So It is up to you to decide.

Many people I know of who season their own wood water it when the summer gets too warm and dry. I imagine the summers in Slovenia can be pretty warm and dry, therefore I would build the roof only after the first year of seasoning (that is what I do and did anyway and I have no fungi, nor any other humidity problem on my wood (and also not too many cracks)). But I am no expert, surely Bruce - Tonewoods will contribute.

Removing parafine no problem in my view. I myself cut the trunk pieces anyway some 10-20 cm or even longer than I need. And I saw off the waxed part away anyway, also because there are some cracks, dirt, etc, longer pieces alow you to choose a better part on any individual piece. The soaking is of course a possible way but may be difficult with large and heavy pieces, there we use the brush. I think the wax can be saponised by ammonia solution before use to prevent it from meddling with glue.

I heard from my father who worked as lumberjack for some time, tha a methon of gluing paper on is used to prevent the wood from cracking, but I have not heard that someone from the tonewood world would use that, I may try it someday, because I imagine it can be extremely efficient.


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I use white glue to seal end grain on drying wood. My guess is that it also offers some kind of mechanical protection of splitting due to its high strength. It is more expensive, but then what should a few extra dollars matter compared to protecting an important investment.

The paper sounds like an interesting idea.

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Hi Matej,


Many people I know of who season their own wood water it when the summer gets too warm and dry.

I hope you know that when you water the wood you're inviting the worms to eat it. Water softens the cellwalls and lets the little blighters bore into the timber. I think you should keep your wood away from water - dampness can cause mould and worm attacks.

Perhaps another tip: Keep your timber as far away from the ground as you can, as some dampness always rises from the floor.

Cheers Wolfjk

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  • 2 weeks later...


caretakers (managers) of Church woods on Pokljuka still working on

120.000 m3 of wood in forests, which fall down last winter during

heavy, wet snow. They are starting timbering  first class wood

at the beginning of january, when I`ll have a chance to pick up the

best it could be found among those logs. So nothing is going on


But I did decide what kind of procedure to use. I did talk with

some forester engineers, I read some moore stuff  about theme,

and I received interesting private mail from former MN

 participant or member. This is his view and it is something I

planed in general from the moment I start this idea.

It may be interested for some.

1.  the lowest part of the

log has wood that there is nothing wrong with.  sometimes the

flare of the butt makes it have a sweep (bend) in the grain. 

these are sometimes not high grade units if the flare is



2.  wax MUST be

used.  you need to do it within about 16 hours of cutting the

rounds.  use anchorseal "https://www.uccoatings.com/prod_anchorseal.php">https://www.uccoatings.com/prod_anchorseal.php 

this is the best product on the market, no heating etc.  i buy

this in 55 gallon drums.  for 2 logs you will need about 4

gallons or less.  seel the wood when round, it saves

time.  split to bolts after seeling.  split bolts that

will cut either 1 or 2 violin/viola tops.


3.  for violin/viola, 19"

sections are a good length.


4.  even seeled, the wood

needs air flow.  stagnant air will cause



5. if you can, remove the bark

after splitting, either with a bandsaw or a peeling



6.  again, the

wood MUST be seeled.  if not, you will destroy a good

portion of your wood.


7.  you can cut the wedges

when green/wet, cut them bigger than you see dry bookmatched

tops.  do not bookmatch cut them when



any questions, just


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