Cutting and drying boxwood for pegs


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Hello, 

Recently I had the chance to acquire a significant amount of freshly cut boxwood, which I would like to use to turn tuning pegs (mainly for viola da gambas) and make other pieces of hardware from. The logs are currently about 6 ft long with diameters from about 6 to 2 inches (see attached picture). 

I would like to ask for advice on the dimensions of the blanks that I should cut now for drying to end up with most useable wood for further processing without loss by splits or cracks or warping. I will be coating the ends in paraffin or somehow seal the ends, of course.

Any other thing I should pay attention to?

Thanks - Andreas

089_-627449663.jpg

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I myself wouldn't plan on using them for five years at the earliest. I would cut the pieces into parafin coated lengths of two feet. Some folks who know what they are doing would split them and store them in fresh sawdust or wood chips to slowly cure them and prevent cracking. Eric Fouille sometimes monitors this site and he would be the expert. Cutting them into peg blanks at this stage is not what I would do anyway.

 

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2 hours ago, MeyerFittings said:

 I would cut the pieces into parafin coated lengths of two feet. Some folks who know what they are doing would split them and store them in fresh sawdust or wood chips to slowly cure them and prevent cracking.

Another method that also works is to cut into lengths and then wrap the pieces in lots of paper, followed by wrapping in plastic sheet/film. 

The paper is replaced every few weeks with dry paper (amazing how much moisture can accumulate in the paper) and resealed again in plastic wrap.

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2 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

Eric,

Do you need accurately squared blanks to start turning? Do you turn the head as a ball and then cut the sides or profile the head and then turn?

Thanks for info.

Not pegs no to the first part, centered and sized right.  Turned like a ball for the head then cut and flattenned.

 

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1 hour ago, Janito said:

Another method that also works is to cut into lengths and then wrap the pieces in lots of paper, followed by wrapping in plastic sheet/film. 

The paper is replaced every few weeks with dry paper (amazing how much moisture can accumulate in the paper) and resealed again in plastic wrap.

This wood is green, it's still going to take years. I've never heard of kiln dried pegs but I'm sure it happens

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I would cut it to lengths (depends on straightness and defects etc, but no more than 30-40 cm) and at least cut (split) them into halves and seal the ends (wax or liberal layer of white glue), round billets will check badly and unpredictably. I do that with plum and other smaller diameter billets

I think calling good kiln drying company wouldn't be a bad move.... some modern kilns (microwave, vacuum etc...) can dry wood VERY effectively with NO ill effects that are commonly asociated with kiln dried wood (from old times tales when kilns were pretty low tech). Now, that violin makers don't frown upon cooked, baked or otherwise treated woods I think for fittings no one will ever care it it is nice and stable....

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17 hours ago, MeyerFittings said:

Not pegs no to the first part, centered and sized right.  Turned like a ball for the head then cut and flattenned.

 

In that case I would think cutting slightly oversized blanks, dipping them in AnchorSeal, and putting them on racks where the air can reach all sides should dry them and allow stresses to equalize in 4-5 years..

It is amazing how long it takes even short and small logs to dry if not processed.

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4 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

In that case I would think cutting slightly oversized blanks, dipping them in AnchorSeal, and putting them on racks where the air can reach all sides should dry them and allow stresses to equalize in 4-5 years..

It is amazing how long it takes even short and small logs to dry if not processed. 

Isn't turning ball heads too wasteful for such precious material?

The logs could go bad with stains and fungus before they would dry completely.

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I don't turn the heads in a ball exactly but I do make the head thickness oversized. The heads are thinner than the collars anyway so the blank has to be at least that thick. I use sandpaper while the peg is turning to take out the lathe marks before I cut off the flats. If you try to do this with the heads at their finished thickness the sides get assymetrical which screws up the bevelling process.. All woods are precious, boxwood is not as hard to find as many. I've wasted too much wood trying to cut it too close to tolerance and winding up with bupkiss.

I have never tried sawing or splitting green wood into blanks and therefore saving some time in the drying process. As I said Eric Fouille would be the man to ask about harvested boxwood as it grows near his Town. I personally find that wood is going to split where it wants to. I would rather it split in bigger pieces so I can cut blanks in the unsplit part of the piece. How large a piece is debatable. Since much small cracking comes from the outside radially I do see an advantage in removing the cambium and at least some of the sapwood. If you are wrong about the cutting into blanks and drying from there though ____

I've got a piece of turkish boxwood that came from Hills in the 50's. It's about 5" in diameter with adzed off cambium cut in half. Very few cracks. I can see cutting blanks and letting them sit for a while before turning them. It's true that the smaller you cut it the less likely it is to crack but I still wouldn't do it green. Hey, it's not my wood so what the hey. I've heard of people who throw their wood in a pond and sink it for a few years. They swear this both cures it and keeps it from cracking.

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