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Green Wood Bowl Turning Tutorial:
Part 3, Drying Methods

There are several widely used methods for drying rough turned bowl blanks.  Some are  easier to perform than others, while others produce more consistent results.  We highly recommend that beginners start with the most widely used method for drying wood - air drying.  It is an easy and reliable way to get started.

The following descriptions explain how to prepare your wood for each of the given methods.  Once you have decided upon which method you will use, continue on to the next portion of this tutorial...monitoring the drying process

Air Drying Method
The air drying method for drying roughed out blanks is by far the easiest, and is recommended for beginning green wood turners.  You will need nothing more than some brown kraft paper (or a brown paper bag from the grocery store), some tape, and a dry area to store the piece in.  Simply wrap the roughed out blank in two layers of brown kraft paper, tape it shut, and set it aside to dry in a fairly dry area (preferably indoors, where the temperature and humidity remain somewhat constant).  

Boiling Method
The boiling method is one of the best ways to dry blanks, with consistent results second only to those of the alcohol drying method.  Begin by bringing a pot of water large enough to submerge your blank in to a rolling boil.  At this point, place your roughed out blank into the water, and allow the piece to remain in boiling water for one hour per inch of thickness of the piece.  For example, a one inch thick piece would need one hour, and 2 inch thick piece would need two hours, etc.  At this point, carefully remove the piece, and wrap in two layers of brown kraft paper.  
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Alcohol Soaking Method
The alcohol method is by far the best way to dry blanks, with the most consistent results, and a quick turnaround time.  This method is best to use for highly figured pieces and ones with large knots or pith.  For this you will need to get enough denatured alcohol (available at Lowe's, Home Depot, etc) to completely submerge your blank in.  Place your roughed out blank (completely submerged) in the denatured alcohol, and allow to sit for 24 hours.  Remove the piece and wrap in 2-3 layers of brown kraft paper.
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Non-Traditional (Experimental) Drying Methods

The methods outlined below are not traditionally used by most green wood turners.  Each can be used, however, with varying degrees of success.  Included are some links to web sites with additional information.

Microwave Drying Method
The microwave drying method is not widely used.  It is a great way to get instant results from a piece of green wood, but does not produce consistent results.  To microwave dry a piece of wood, simply place it in a microwave, and heat it on a medium setting for approximately 45 seconds to 1 minute.  Remove the piece (careful, it'll be hot!), weigh it, and write down the measurement.  Once it has cooled, place it in the microwave again and repeat the above steps.  Continue doing this until the weight of the blank stabilizes.  At this point, the blank has stopped losing moisture into the atmosphere, and is ready to be finished!
Additional Web Resources:

Dishwashing Detergent Drying Method
The dishwashing detergent drying method is also not widely used.  As with microwave drying, it is a great way to get fast results.  Results are fairly consistent with this method, though...the only drawback being that the finished piece will sometimes contain an oily residue which can be difficult to finish with anything other than an oil and wax finish.  For this method, you will need a large container (large enough to hold your blank totally submerged in dishwashing detergent) and a few gallons of non-perfumed, non-dyed dishwashing detergent (the liquid type used for handwashing dishes).  Simply submerge your roughed out turning in the bucket of detergent, making sure to totally submerge the piece.  If necessary, weigh it down so that it does not float.  Let the piece soak for 24 hours, then remove and let dry for several hours.  At this point, the blank is ready, and if all has gone correctly, the oils in the detergent should have forced the water out of the blank, replacing that moisture with oil through osmosis.
Additional Web Resources:

Now that you've had a chance to take a look at the numerous ways of drying your wood, and have everything ready to start drying...let's take a look at how to monitor the drying process.

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