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May 18, 2022 - 2:17:06 PM
16 posts since 4/11/2022

I’m cutting into a new piece of maple and it seems to be too dry. The gouge is sharp, but the wood seems to tear a little beside the cut or under it. Also gouging out the wood between drilled guide holes; the wood splits, or tears. Will the wood improve if left outside or in a place with higher humidity? I have a meter on order. Edit: I got this wood from a cabinet maker 20 years ago, so it was kiln dried, then stored upstairs (in air conditioning). 

Edited by - fiddler135 on 05/18/2022 14:46:55

May 19, 2022 - 12:36:56 AM

742 posts since 3/1/2020
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Kiln dried wood is something to avoid in violin making. Reputable wood suppliers usually make a point of saying they don’t carry it. Good violin making wood is naturally dried.

You’ve said your gouge is sharp, so assuming no issue with the tools, what’s your technique? Are you cutting with the grain or across it? Sweeping passes or explosive ones?

May 19, 2022 - 3:33:17 AM

16 posts since 4/11/2022

Across grain; sweeping passes. However, Splitting does occur along sides/ edges, and with the grain where holes are drilled. Still the wood should not split so easily.
Under the gouge going across grain there’s evidence of tearing, very small tears like the wood is pulled apart beneath the cut.
I finished a cherry fiddle years ago with excessively dry wood that I didn’t realize until there was a tear into the finished surface, too late to stop, or correct, if possible. There was not internet to ask then.

May 19, 2022 - 10:42:54 AM

742 posts since 3/1/2020
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It could be that the wood is just too brittle from the kiln drying process or it might be off-quarter enough to make it carve poorly.

It’s hard to tell exactly what is going on without having it in my hands. If you’re not too far into the process, consider putting it aside and trying a different back.

May 19, 2022 - 12:01:15 PM

5706 posts since 7/1/2007

Wood is hygroscopic. It will gain or release moisture to come into equilibrium with its immediate environment. If it's been stored for years in A/C, it's MC is probably very low, probably around 4% by weight. which should be ideal for you. The stringiness is another matter, probably brought on by poor handling during drying, a poor kiln schedule etc., or just the wood. Nothing wrong with kiln drying per se: some makers on Maestronet like to bake, or "torrify" their wood to simulate the effects of age, but a bad drying schedule can alter the texture of wood in negative ways, hence the preference for air dried wood.

I'd still look at your tools. Do you have an objective way of testing them for sharpness? I used to use the "hanging hair" test, and knife makers have a thread test. There is an even more objective test available now, if you have a gram scale you can buy test clips and a base to hold them for about $40 and remove all doubt. BESS sharpness tester.

I spent over a million dollars annually on furniture wood for a long time, so I learned a lot of lessons.

May 19, 2022 - 1:55:21 PM

16 posts since 4/11/2022

I’ve taken the wood off the carving board. It’s just too brittle to work safely. Thanks for your replies.

May 20, 2022 - 6:33:48 AM

16 posts since 4/11/2022

If anyone is still interested; I found that “wood juice” is a product that may work here. Another possibility is to “re-kiln” the wood in high humidity.  If anyone has another idea please let us know.

Edited by - fiddler135 on 05/20/2022 06:35:09

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