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What is the proper way of seasoning boxwood?

Discussions, identification and analysis of the vast range of woods used in Netsuke
Bencuri
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Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:24 pm

Postby Bencuri » Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:31 pm

I guess many of you have used boxwood for making their netsukes, and maybe some of you dried your own boxwood for the netsukes. If anyone has experience in how to season boxwood properly, could he write some advices here?

I managed to obtain a few logs of boxwood (buxus sempervirens), about 10-15 in diameter and 1-2 meter in length. I am not sure if it can be left in logs for seasoning, whether the bark may be left on, and whether the ends have to be sealed or not. Someone told me that the boxwood may start molding if the ends are sealed for seasoning. I am not sure if it is correct or not. Some say this wood don't tend to crack too much, others say I definately have to saw the logs into sticks for seasoning to prevent cracking. I am not sure about the proper way...

fkc
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Postby fkc » Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:46 pm


Those are huge logs of boxwood; the trees don't often grow to that size. Cut the logs down into 15-18" lengths; longer if you intend them for sculptures larger than netsuke. Leave the bark on and paint the cut ends of the log with wax to about an inch down the bark. Store upright on end in a dry but cool enclosed place and turn once every three months. The logs will take up to 4 years to dry and season properly. Larger logs will take longer.
Freda http://fiedesigns.blogspot.com/

Bencuri
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:24 pm

Postby Bencuri » Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:02 pm

Thank you for the information!

When I dry regular lumber, I always use pasta (flour mixed with water) to seal the ends of boards and sticks, and it has worked very well for me so far. None of the pieces cracked so far, there are only minor, very thin cracks appearing on the ends (about 1 cm). Do you think the pasta may also work in case of boxwood, or the wax is definately better?

Another thing that confuses me about boxwood is the pith. My friends (who are not familiar with boxwood anyway) told me the pith should be cut out. However I have some wooden objects made of boxwood, and interestngly the pith is included, yet the objects has no cracks. That makes me think whether the pith of this wood can also be used, unlike the pith of regular lumber?

fkc
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Postby fkc » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:48 am


Treat the boxwood as fine wood, rather than lumber; it can be quite expensive if properly prepared. That's why it's best to use wax. Water-based seals just add to the water content and tend to crack when dry, leaving overall drying patchy; uneven drying can cause the wood to crack. Boxwood doesn't have pith, but hard heartwood. Always leave the heartwood in; some carvers like the effect in their pieces and sometimes design carvings around that.
Freda http://fiedesigns.blogspot.com/

Bencuri
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Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:24 pm

Postby Bencuri » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:44 pm


I followed your guidance, and I cut the logs in pieces as you recommended, and sealed the end-grain with wax. However there is something that I am not sure I did well. The sealings are firm and extend on the sides of the logs 1 inch as you described, but somehow some portions of the surfaces in case of some logs didn't succesfully attach, at least it feels like that. It feels as if there would be some space between the wax and the wood surface. However the whole wax layer rests firmly on the wood. Do you think I should worry about those loose portions? They are on the endgrain surface in case of some logs.

fkc
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Postby fkc » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:44 pm


Don't worry about bits of the wax feeling loose. Provided the wax has no holes in, the moisture content of the logs will be retained for a slow drying-out. If any of the wax flakes off when you turn the logs, just cover the holes with more.
Freda http://fiedesigns.blogspot.com/


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