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Seasoning and working with apple

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Dave.L

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Hello all,

I'm really quite new to this whole woodworking malarky and have just about finished my first piece of furniture - a bedside table in cherry that I might post a few pictures of for your folks feedback.

I've just heard that my parents are thinking of chopping down an old, unfruitful apple tree from their garden. It used to be my favourite to climb when I was little and so for sentimental, and maybe even thrift reasons I'd quite like to use it at some point in the future to make some small pieces.

I've had a little look on google, but am actually finding it quite difficult to get any advice on seasoning apple, apart from the rather encouraging comments about it being difficult, prone to warping and splitting.

Has anyone seasoned and used apple before, and if not, what are the general tips for reducing the above problems during seasoning?

Any pointers would be greatly appreciated,
Cheers,
Dave.
 

wallace

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I have some apple which I kept in log form for about 4 years and then tried to turn a hollow form. It warped and split all over the place. I love the finish that can be achieved with apple wood. I think plank it stick it and leave with heavy weights on top should work.
Mark
 

pitch pine

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Apple wood can be really nice to work so give it a go. If you are going to make furniture you need to plank it and seal the end grain (pva glue is good for this). Do you have access to a large bandsaw to make the cuts? If the trunk was large enough (say over 12 inches in diameter) I would be tempted to slice it down the middle and then quartersaw the planks (with the fresh cut face down on the saw table). Then stack it with sticks to allow the air to circulate and wait....the books say 1 year for a 1 inch thick board.

I did this with a windblown cherry and made a coffee table with the wood. It was really rewarding to mill the timber, dry it and make something useful. Another bonus is this type of timber often has really good figuring, worth the effort.
 

MIGNAL

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Sorry but I can't help you with the seasoning of the Apple wood. If you end up with a tiny bit of whittled wood from a branch it's better than nothing. . . and it leaves you with a little story to tell. Do your best.
 

drillbit

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How big do you want your finished planks to be?

I acquired some apple logs from a kind forum user earlier this year. I chainsawed the logs lengthwise and ended up with several pieces i am hoping to turn eventually. But I had one middle section about an inch and a half thick by 8 inches wide and 12 inches long. Although I sealed the ends with wax, it split down the middle, which is not surprising considering the pith was still in place and I left it indoors. However, last week I ripped down the split, then resawed both halves, and put the 4 resulting pieces through the P/T. I now have 4 small pieces of wood about 80mm x 200mm x 6mm. Not the best result in terms of wastage, but more than enough to make a small box. However, considering I did almost everything wrong, I'm sure a decent result could be obtained with some actual knowledge and patience( both of which I lacked) I would agree you need to get that pith out, quarter saw it thick and expect to waste some when converting to planks. How big your end result will be depends on the size of the tree and how much wastage you end up with. But then again, we pay woodyards a fortune for wood precisely because of that wastage, so it's to be expected even from dedicated commercial wood processing.
 

Dave.L

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Thanks very much for your guidance folks, the tree won't come down til jan or feb next year so still have some time to ask questions and plan.

In response to drillbit, I was toying with the idea of taking a couple of plain-sawn planks across the whole width of the log in a sort of nod towards nakashima et al, but your comment about the pith makes me nervous. Forgive my ignorance but why Is the pith so prone to splitting, and is there anything that can be done to minimise this tendency?

If I remember correctly the trunk is at least 18 inches in diameter, although this includes the bark.
Oh, and I don't really have access to a large bandsaw either and so have been hesitantly contemplating planking it all by hand. Unless of course there is anyone reading this who lives in near north Birmingham and just fancies putting an apple tree through their bandsaw.

So in summary, is plain-sawing apple by hand an exercise in foolishness or are there measures I can take to make it worthwhile?

Cheers, dave
 

custard

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I've got a few beautiful pieces of quarter sawn English apple, 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" x 24", and with dead straight grain. I've been keeping them in case I ever get around to making some Krenov style planes.

I've heard all the same stories about warping, twisting fruitwoods, but these have sat in my workshop for nearly ten years and have remained as true as if they'd been Cuban Mahogany!

Give it a go, you've nothing to lose and you might be delighted with what you get.
 

gus3049

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I must have been lucky.

All the Apple I have turned has been great, no splits and very little movement. I got it from someone who had just left it outside after it was cut for a couple of years.

One thing though, you shouldn't leave cutting it down until next year. By Jan or Feb, the sap will have started rising, even if its poorly. It should come down in the next couple of months unless its completely dead.
 

andersonec

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If you can get it planked, make sure it is cut 5mm thicker than what you eventually need, 25mm thick now will be 15/16mm in a year when it is dry, cut it, end seal it and stack it with twice as much weight on top as you may think you will need, place the sticks about 300/400mm apart and directly above each other all the way up the stack, did I say put a lot of weight on top? if I didn't then make sure you put a lot of weight on top, then add some more.

Andy
 

pitch pine

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You could rip the timber with a handsaw, but it will take a long time. I remember the cherry I used was about 15 inches in diameter and 40 inches long, and I ripped that down the pith so I could then plank it on my bandsaw. I used a car-boot sale handsaw with 3 teeth per inch, which I sharpened (easy with such big teeth)......I really wouldn't have wanted to do it all by hand though...

even if you don't plank it straight away seal the endgrain and store it outside undercover away from direct sunlight with some airflow to dry it slowly.....maybe by then you will have a way of processing it
 
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