Kuksa help needed!! Seasoning and cracking question.

Discussion in 'Self-made Gear' started by Mattpa, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. Mattpa

    Mattpa Tinder Gatherer

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    I took a couple of cross sections of down/leaning Rock Maple (I think) from the woods near the house to try making a kuksa. I don't know how long it was leaning. When I got the pieces back to the house they both looked like the log on the right. I stripped the bark, stop cut, then split off pieces to form the handle and did some preliminary shaping. A day or two later I get the huge split you see in the piece I started working. I'm obviously doing something wrong. Am I taking it when it's too green? Not green enough? How can I tell? Am I storing it improperly? Should I treat it somehow? (Boiling?) I'll take any help folks can offer. Thanks in advance!
     

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  2. Schwert

    Schwert Guide

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    You generally need to remove the pith...center of a log to minimize splitting.

    You left the whole pith in that chunk, so a Hugh check was pretty likely.

    You need to keep the drying process slow...wrapped in plastic in fridge, with damp shavings in a paper bag...all tricks to try.

    But with that pith you are very likely going to lose a piece no matter how careful.
     
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  3. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Pith = Crack
     
  4. superpaco

    superpaco Scout

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    What happened was the water content of the piece changed significantly and the wood disagreed. You need to slow down the drying processed and reduce the amount of wood you are drying out. If you had gotten a fair amount more carving done in one day and put the carving and some shaving in a bag you would have had more time to complete you project. Another option would have been to not make a "blank" (i.e. leave it alone) and paint the ends of your log. This would have made a better barrier to hold the moisture in. Green wood (higher moisture content) is easier to carve and the checks appear as it get to certain point in the drying process. Most people get the carving done in a day or maybe a couple if they bag it.
     
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  5. Early Man

    Early Man Supporter Supporter

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    It is possible to oil and or wax ends of logs to slow the rate of their drying and the same is possible fir items you are working on. Cut and shape as you will and wax the end wood and oil the rest. Since it will be a food item to eat with use a oil you can eat like olive oil or coconut oil. I have cut and removed the bark from fir trees to make masts for a canoe of, and waxed the ends and oiled the wood after each shaping. I also stored these out doors on the north side of the building in constant shade. No checking (cracks) yet .

    Terms vary to me a maple has no pitch but the branches in a white ash do. The center of a maple tree is heart wood where I come from. Pith to me is a soft substance in the center of the heart wood.
     
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  6. EvanStinson

    EvanStinson Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    You definitely want to work as green as possible. The closer it is to its final shape before it starts drying the better. As people have referenced the pith is your issue. Typically you'll split your log evenly in half. Then put the split side down and the bark side up. The bark side is the top. Then shape away. You can even make sure that you remove more of the center of the log so you have a decreased chance of this happening.
     
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  7. Backyard

    Backyard Supporter Supporter

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    I split the log in half based on the center of the rings, regardless of the species or "pithiness". I also remove a few layers of wood to ensure there is no pith left. Once you've done it wrong, you'll know exactly what I mean. Then I remove the bark and make a rectangle-ish blank of the log.

    A few other tips on the kuksa.
    • I'd suggest laying out the top and getting the bowl carved out while you can still get it in a vice. Using a gauge can save hours of time and tons of strain on your hands and wrists. I learned this the hard way.
    • I always keep the largest shavings I remove in a zip lock bag and put the kuksa in the ziplock between carving sessions. You want to keep it as green as possible. I have soaked one over night in a bucket of water as well, but that was after I failed to close the bag.
    • Use stop cuts near the handle, but don't put them too close to the handle as it makes the transition from the bowl to the handle a real pain.
    • If you're getting tired or not having fun, put it down.
    • I always have sharp steel, green wood, my strops, some leather gloves, and a boo boo kit handy when I'm carving. YMMV
    Looking forward to seeing your results.
     
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  8. Mattpa

    Mattpa Tinder Gatherer

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    Wow! Thanks everyone! These are great suggestions. I have a spoon carving how to book that discusses boiling freshly carved green wood spoons to dry them and avoid cracking, but only after they're basically done. The spoons I've made were all out of kiln dried "European Birch" sold as firewood at the grocery store, and I guess that's how I avoided cracking before.
     
  9. Early Man

    Early Man Supporter Supporter

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    I must be blessed or have a colder north side than most everyone here. I cut down a poplar tree that was destined to leave it's roots in the soil, too close to a lived in dwelling. I was requested to do a DARE project with kids. Little did I know what I was getting into, and so provided round tree sections I chain sawed the centers out, to make deer raw hide drums of. I waxed and oiled the top and bottoms, and oil the sides and insides. Then to the north side of my shed. Not a crack, and mine, the one I still have has no crack either. Can't say for all the rest, other than I soon discovered children are not allowed the use of the most basic tools at DARE. So I chiseled, scissor thong rounds of the same hide, and cut every last drum head out too.

    I won't do that again until after my next life time comes around again. With any luck I won't remember :)
     
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  10. Mattpa

    Mattpa Tinder Gatherer

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    Early Man, I think it's great that you took the time to do that for the kids. I've been learning much of this bushcraft stuff to have something to share with my nephew. Little did I know I'd find my new favorite pastime. His mom got herself mixed up in some bad drugs, and my folks and I are now picking up the slack. I got him some basic kit stuff, including a nice Mora, with a homemade kydex sheath. I showed him all the basic safety stuff, worked on some whittling projects with him. I made him swear up and down that he wouldn't do anything stupid with it (with detailed definitions of "stupid" things) before I let him take it with him. I thought maybe the best cure for irresponsibility would be more responsibility. A few months later he destroyed some stuff with it in his room (he has some understandable anger issues with all he's been through). So now I'm holding it in trust for him until our next camping / fishing trip. It'll be 100% supervised activity for the foreseeable future. Anyway, looks like we have some similar ideas about what bushcraft can be for troubled kids.
     
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  11. Early Man

    Early Man Supporter Supporter

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    I try to help when I can, but the way society is getting I opt out more now than I opt in. You better be the guide for your nephew a good while longer.
     
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