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Yew Tree Coffee Table Project

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acerspader

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Hey Guys, I am new to the forum. This looks like a great forum and source of information.

I loved working with timber when I was young but life got the way and drifted away. But now I am finally getting back into it.

My return project is a Yew Wood Coffee Table.

I bought the yew timber ring off ebay a few weeks back. Its about 600x450x50 in size and am told it was treated with pentacryl and air dried to 20% moisture content. I am so happy with this piece as the live edge and growth rings look great. However, when I inspected it closer, i spotted small holes on edge which look like woodworm. See some photos below. I really want to use this piece of timber and also not make a mess of it, and also i never bought an air dried piece before, so I have a few questions for you guys:

Is it possible to treat this woodworm so it safe to have it as a coffee table inside?
What product would be used to treat the wood for woodworm?
What moisture content would be ok for coffee table and how would i dry the timber?
What type of finish would you recommend for use as coffee table?

Thanks in advance.
Rich
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Yojevol

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Welcome to the Forum Rich. That's a nice round of yew yew've got there. I've only worked with boards of yew but some comments may help.
I've never heard of pentacryl so I just googled it. All the comments on it seem to be American and there are complaints that it is expensive for the results obtained, so I would be a bit circumspect about the seller's claims.
Yew is notorious for being full of shakes and the grain can be all over the place, so I would expect your piece is going to move somewhat before it's finished drying out. The best you can do with it for the time being is to continue its air drying by keeping it dry but with a good airflow over it. The best you will achieve is 12 - 14% and that may take a year if it's at 20% now. When you get it indoors it could drop to 8% in a centrally heated house. Keep an eye on it as it dries out and if it looks fairly stable after a year or so start working with it.
I wouldn't worry about the worm holes, they look as though they were there before the tree was felled. You'll notice if there is any activity as it it dries. You needn't worry about bring worm into the house; they're everywhere anyway just waiting to fly in through your window.
Regarding finish, yew gives an excellent finish by the simplest of means. Just sand down working through the grades and finish with a wax coating.
Brian

PS Just been to test the MC of my stock of yew that I've been drying for the last 15 months (see here) pleasantly surprised to see areading of 12%. Time to start using it.
 

Droogs

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I would so turn that bit of wood in to a brain shaped brainstorming coffee table :)

Go gcuirfidh ár dtinteán fáilte romhat
 

Richard_C

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Looks nice. I do a bit of wood turning and find that the dust from yew is particularly irritating. Maybe it's just me. Suggest you get yourself a decent dust mask before you do any sanding, which in current circumstances might take about as long as the yew takes to dry out.....
 

AndyT

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Another finishing option. I built a little chest of drawers with a yew top. I used Tru-oil, which is sold as a finish for gun stocks. It's really easy to use - just wipe it on with a cloth. I found that on a close grained wood like yew a few coats built up quickly to a nice gloss which brought out the colours of the wood. It's tough enough for a table top but easily refreshed if needed. A small bottle would be plenty for your table.
 

Sean Hellman

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It is also a pain to sand. First off you think you have a perfect surface and as soon as a finish is put on you realise that you have done a rubbish job of sanding. Second yew is prone to heat checking or cracking from sanding and sand too hard or long and lots of little cracks appear.
 

marcros

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Interesting correction. So it isn't also an irritant?
 

Richard_C

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Compared with the phosgene & chlorine we had in a chemical factory I worked in, it's not ever so poisonous.

Best not to ingest too much perhaps. No reason not to work with Yew, just needs a bit of care.

Plus it's a bit impolite to alter a quote without explicitly showing the alteration such that it looks like it was written like that originally. All a bit Trumpian even if it was intended to be humorous.
 

Deadeye

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Golly. Apologies everyone. "Fixed that" is often used humourously, and indicates that a change has been made. Anyway, no offence intended to anyone!
 

profchris

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Yew can be a right ******! The first time I used it I got slightly wheezy with an itchy face. The last (ever) time I went to A&E with breathing problems. Sad, as it's lovely stuff.

OTOH, some people never experience problems with it.

All wood dust is a potential sensitiser, so a good dust mask is very sensible.
 

acerspader

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Cheers Brian for the reply. I never heard of pentacryl either, claims it stops cracking when drying out. I have a few cherry logs that were cut down at work and they are really cracking.

Im impressed with your yew project. It a beautiful timber.

I must buy moisture reader and check the wood regularly.


Yojevol":3bdyt3ys said:
Welcome to the Forum Rich. That's a nice round of yew yew've got there. I've only worked with boards of yew but some comments may help.
I've never heard of pentacryl so I just googled it. All the comments on it seem to be American and there are complaints that it is expensive for the results obtained, so I would be a bit circumspect about the seller's claims.
Yew is notorious for being full of shakes and the grain can be all over the place, so I would expect your piece is going to move somewhat before it's finished drying out. The best you can do with it for the time being is to continue its air drying by keeping it dry but with a good airflow over it. The best you will achieve is 12 - 14% and that may take a year if it's at 20% now. When you get it indoors it could drop to 8% in a centrally heated house. Keep an eye on it as it dries out and if it looks fairly stable after a year or so start working with it.
I wouldn't worry about the worm holes, they look as though they were there before the tree was felled. You'll notice if there is any activity as it it dries. You needn't worry about bring worm into the house; they're everywhere anyway just waiting to fly in through your window.
Regarding finish, yew gives an excellent finish by the simplest of means. Just sand down working through the grades and finish with a wax coating.
Brian

PS Just been to test the MC of my stock of yew that I've been drying for the last 15 months (see here) pleasantly surprised to see areading of 12%. Time to start using it.
 

acerspader

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Cheers Richard.

Is it only Ye dust or do you get that with other woods too?



Richard_C":3rpmdsab said:
Looks nice. I do a bit of wood turning and find that the dust from yew is particularly irritating. Maybe it's just me. Suggest you get yourself a decent dust mask before you do any sanding, which in current circumstances might take about as long as the yew takes to dry out.....
 

acerspader

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Thanks Sean.

Its been sanded already by the guy that sold it. Once dry again will give it another sand.

Sean Hellman":3qsmcnln said:
It is also a pain to sand. First off you think you have a perfect surface and as soon as a finish is put on you realise that you have done a rubbish job of sanding. Second yew is prone to heat checking or cracking from sanding and sand too hard or long and lots of little cracks appear.
 

acerspader

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Hey Marcros,

I look pretty flat. When you run your hand over it it is bumpy. I am guessing this is from the cutting.

its not the same thickness, its about 10-15 thicker one side compared to other side. Not sure will this affect the drying out.


marcros":2kyzuoob said:
How flat is it?
 

marcros

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No I doubt it on the drying but you may want to look in due course at some form of router sled to flatten the uneven side.
 

MikeG.

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If you were doing fine cabinetry with a slab of yew then I would say dry it first, properly, then come back to it and make your piece of furniture when it has finished moving.

What I am seeing here however is a small single-piece tabletop, with no chance of having a formal undercarriage etc. I would treat it as a 3 legged (or 4 legged) stool, and simply turn up some legs and whack them in the underside. If you want to go all the way through and do wedged tenons, so much the better. If you were to do this and the piece of yew shrank and twisted..........so what? You may as well have use of it as a table whilst it's drying, and having legs sticking out of the bottom isn't going to be much of a handicap when you come to re-flatten it in 6 or 9 months time. If you only use 3 legs then you won't even need to adjust the end of one of them when it goes back out to the workshop.

Beautiful as that piece is, tree-section lumps of wood on legs do nothing at all for me other than transport me straight back to the 1980s.
 
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