Green wood and Soap

Well I have started turning some larger green wood and ran into the same problem as everyone else. It shifts and cracks. In searching web site and all over the web I found using a 50/50 of dish soap and water was the way to treat the wood . One site said soaking for as little as 4 hours was working for him. Others said weeks. So I tried it for the first time yesterday. I put the wood in yesterday and took it out this morning, washed it off , and left it on the racks to dry.

Now about 6 hours later I went out to check on it and most of the bowls cracked already. I think this is telling me they need to soak longer than one day. This was some cherry I had won at the club raffle, it was sealed on the ends so it seemed to be OK after the rough turning.

Set out on the table to dry for a few days now. 

Sometimes I wonder if the cracks are too big to fill. Just starting so I am still experimenting with what will work and what is firewood.

For the cracks I use epoxy as a filler.

I soak the bowl and dry them. Then I fill the cracks. After turning the bowls they may need a little more filler and I do this right on the lathe. Then I blew the rim and had to cut down the size. At the bottom of the series is the final bowl. I can't say that this project was worthwhile. A lot of messing around filling, turning, filling again, and other problems. I think next time unless it is a very special piece of wood it will turn into firewood with that many cracks to start.

These are some that have been a little more successful.

I do end up with some small cracks that did not get filled, these are on the bowl on the left in the above picture.

Another batch of bowls getting rough turned. I normally just split a log and then turn all the bowls at once. After putting that group in the soap I will start on another log.

This is one batch that was just taken out , washed, and drying. I normally just rough bowls until the soap tub is full.

And now a new batch of 13 bowls so far into the soap. I may add some more, the tub is not real full yet.

I mixed 50-50 from the begining. I saw some articles that said less but most had the 50-50 mix. I have noticed when I was adding water because I thought it was evaporating that the mix did not seem to work as good. So I bought more soap and added to the mix again. I think the 50-50 works the best.
I still am using the original batch but have added to it as it seems to need more solution I add at the 50-50 rate.
I have tried one day soaks and about every other time. But I have concluded that I get the most consistant results using the 4 day time. You might be able to get by with 3 days. I find more problems with the differnt types of wood. The crabapple is one that is hard to dry without cracking. But then I keep seeing articles that say the fruitwoods are prone to cracking.
Once out of the soap I used to rinse with water. Now I just let stuff drip dry on a rack over the top of the soap tub. Then I put them in an open top box and set them aside until I am ready to turn them. I don't use bags or any wrap on them, just thrown in the box for storage.

New method of drying:

Well after using the soap method for about a year I finally gave up on it. Seemed like a lot of extra work for not alway good results for me. Stilll had a lot of cracking and warping plus it was messy.

Now I rough turn and core bowl blanks the same way. But I put about 6-10 bowls in a grocery sack, roll up the end and stack them in a big wire cart or plywood box. Seems that having about a half a sack full of loosely stacked bowl in one sack slows the drying. I try not to stack a cored set inside each other, I will turn the center one over so there is air space around each bowl in the sack. I will stack up about 30-40 sacks in the one cart, not worrying about them laying on top of each other. There were days I stacked sacks on sacks burying some so they did not get the air flow around them like others. But when I emptied that sacks I could tell no difference in any of the blanks. So it seems that piled they still dry just as good as each sack laid out not touching another sack. After about a month in the sack I take them out of the sacks and pile them into 55 gallon garbage cans. I leave the lid off the can or at least set the lid on crooked so the cans are not sealed. Then I turn the bowls as needed from there. This summer I did about 600 bowls, 4 garbage cans full, this way and am turning them now about 3-4 months later. I think I have less cracking and warping doing the blanks this way that I did with the soak setup. And this is a lot easier and cleaner.