This is a continuation of the article DIY Wooden Home Decor: Where To Start Making Wood Decoration Yourself.
Experienced DIYer Alexander Prokhorov shares some woodworking tips for beginning craftsmen on how to find and prepare a blank for the DIY project.
Where to find the raw material?
In pursuit of fashion trends, it is important to stop in time not to become a fashion victim. After all, to beat the time-worn whisk, sometimes you need to look for a rusty nail. And if there is no rusty nail at hand, you must search for the technology of artificial aging materials (there are a lot of training videos on the internet).
If you are a beginner, do not waste your energy on artificially aged wood – handicrafts can be much more interesting if you use proper fencing wood instead.
Another option is using junk wood, but not from a municipal landfill, but from a forest dump. Yes, real riches are left to die there: stumps of felled trees, branches, trunks of dried fir trees. This all can be used for making original wood crafts as well.
Tip: If you want to re-create such hanger from driftwood, make a suspension from an old leather belt – it is strong enough to hold a huge weight, both of the snag, clothes or items that you may hang on such an improvised hanger.
Find a trunk of the right size and simply debark it – it can become an excellent element of the interior in itself. The natural look of the wood will be preserved. Varnish it if necessary.
Some stumps from old cuttings, that you may like, weigh a lot: go to the forest with a folding trolley (a car with a free trunk parked nearby is the best).
Hand-made crafts: wood and blank
After leaves fall and before wood sap moves in spring, trees have minimum moisture. We do not mean cutting living trees. Trees may fall in a thunderstorm, be blown by the wind, large boughs, and sawed trunks are often cut in the city parks.
If you need raw material (a recently dumped tree), search for it in the forest or in the park in the cold months.
How to “deliver” and store natural material
Try not to bring wood pests together with a piece of wood. The bark should be better removed in the forest not to carry all those living under it.
Do not store blanks that can have wood-destroying pests at home.
If you see that there are holes in the snag with bark beetles, process such wood with a special solution.
How to dry wood
Fresh wood must be dried well – drying is a stage of preparing wood for work. Dry wood has higher strength, the warping process stops there, it is less prone to rotting.
The main problem with drying is that wood dries unevenly (outer layers dry out and decrease in volume faster than internal layers), which causes warping and cracking.
How to avoid problems?
Choose the right type of wood. There are different types of wood according to its shrinkage.
- Slightly shrinking species of wood (spruce, juniper, willow, cedar, poplar).
- Medium drying species of wood (elm, pear, oak, linden, alder, aspen, mountain ash, and ash).
- Strongly drying up species of wood (birch, larch, apple, maple).
It is useful to know that less dense wood is usually less prone to wrinkling and cracking. The section of the trunk of the tree, located closer to the root, is less prone to cracking.
DIY wood drying
There are many methods of uniform wood drying and, thus, reducing the probability of defects. For example, for less cracking ends of trunks are covered with thick oil paint, which reduces evaporation.
Tip: There is no need to remove this paint later – it can become a basis for a design concept.
If the blank dimensions allow to, wood evaporation methods are used, there is also a technology for digesting wood in oils. They perfectly preserve small pieces.
If we leave aside paints and wood stains that change the color of the product, we must mention, first of all, oils, wax, and varnishes.
- The oil penetrates deep into the wood and protects it from the inside, emphasizes the wood structure, and at the same time preserves its natural appearance. Oil fills wood pores and prevents active penetration of moisture from the outside, but, at the same time, can go out – they say that such wood “breathes”. Unlike varnish, oil coating does not have a glossy film.
- Wax makes the wooden surface smooth, shiny, and water-repellent, the surface covered with wax is also easily polished.
- Varnish penetrates into wood pores not deep and creates a surface film with a typical gloss. The layer of varnish is prone to scratches and moisture.
Many people do not like varnish because it creates a glossy film. I had an interesting result when I tried polishing wood with a felt roller immediately in a few minutes after coating it with a nitrocellulose varnish. Varnish film, which did not have time to harden, is easily peeled off during the grinding from the wood surface, while the varnish falls into micropores and cracks, creating an effect of the wood without varnish film, but with a shiny surface, like waxing.
Tip: If your product is several pieces glued together, sometimes you can glue them together so that all cracks and defects are inside and do not damage the appearance.
As experience shows, almost all failures can be fixed: a wood defect can be drilled and nailed up with a wedge, extended, patched, glued. And if it can’t be “glued”, take the product aside until you feel love for your creation again and continue working on it – varnish it, clean it off, re-sand it and cover it with another solution and finally bring it to a state that it makes you happy.