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Wood And Wood Storage Questions

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I got into guitar building with almost no previous experience with woodworking so I'm trying to learn the tools and techniques step by step and every once in a while I hit some problem. This time its with wood itself.

Part one: I bought a padauk neck blank from an online luthier supply shop. Left it on a shelf in my bedroom which is where I keep most of the wood. I was gone for three weeks and upon coming back I found the piece looking like this:


A nice crack, and there is another one from the other side running more or less throught the center of the blank. The wood was supposedly dry and as you can see the ends are sealed.

So the question I'd like to ask is: was it

a) a random thing that just sometimes happens and I should not worry and move on

B) a the sellers fault (faulty piece, not dried well, something else)

c) my falut (storing the wood in an appartament with central heating = probably very dry air)

d) a combination of the above :P

Any hints would be appreciated. I had no problem with wood cracking up to now, the padauk has been sharing the room with something like 4 neck blanks, 3 body blanks, a bunch of fingerboards and other stuff - no problems with those.

Another thing - I visited a place where I buy veneer and discovered that they also sell wood. Since it was cheap I got some to practice on. They claim its dry and ready for making furniture out of it. :)

What I got was a piece of alder about 3cm thick and some mahogany-like wood (meranti the guy said) in two blanks, also 3cm.


I cut the alder into two body-blank-sized pieces (removing the bark at the edges etc).

Now problems with these:

1. the alder is warping. Bending in the direction I'd expect it to. Does this mean that I should just wait for it to settle down and then try to plane it flat and start building? Or try to clamp and flatten it somehow? Or something else?

Here's a pic:


2. the meranti - its not really warping but its cracking. So far I'm ok because the pieces are rather long and if I cut off the cracked parts I can still build a body out of this, but how do I stop the cracks from developing further? Is it something wrong with my way of storing the wood or is it the wood thats faulty and I should just look for another piece?

again, an illustration:


the dark streaks running along the cracks is superglue (I tried to flood the cracks hoping that would keep them from cracking more).

Phew, long post. Advice appreciated :)

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I'd say the bulk of your problems are mostly due to your interior weather conditions. The boards that changed the most were likely not quite as dry as they should have been (fairly common, unfortunately) and central heat in the winter time makes for extremely dry conditions. Extremely dry conditions tend to cause end checks (cracks). That long crack in your neck blank probably had some help from some internal stress.

Wood moves. All of us fight it to some degree or another. It is a good idea to store wood where it is going to live for some time prior to working to get it climatized so to speak. Let it finish moving, then work it and get it sealed so it doesn't exchange moiture so readily. It is nearly impossible to seal it enough to stop moisture exchange 100%. Storing lumber for an extended period in central heated air is going to cause more movement and cracking than just about any other situation though. Sealing the end grain will help slow it down.

As for the alder that is cupping, you have the right idea. Let it finish moving and then square it back up.


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Scott, this is a bit of a grey area for me aswell. I've not had any massive issues yet but I too keep my body blanks and drop tops indoors in a central heated environment, do you think I'd be better off storing them in my shed even though it's is cold and damp at this time of year, and then pretty damn hot in the summer (when we get one here in the uk!)

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Thanks Scott

my alternative to keeping wood in my apartament (which goes along your "store wood where it is going to live for some time prior to working to get it climatized" as this is where I do all the work too) would be.. my balcony I guess. So the wood would be exposed to negative temperatures and snowfall :)

Do I understand correctly that this is still better than a centrally-heated indoor room?

I run a humidifier at nights there now that I'm home since this is my bedroom, so maybe its not that bad. I can get a humidity meter also. Whats the humidity range I should be going for?

Is there anything else I could to to stop the meranti from cracking further?

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For a long,long time I kept mine stacked in a closet with the door closed in a room that the central heating and air affected the least without any problems.Keeping the wood where circulating vent air can get to it is a bad idea.

Or you could build yourself a big wood storage bin and keep the lid closed.I think that would help.Attic space seems to work well also

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Thanks Wes,

I'll try tape then. Or cling foil.

I have a corridor with a bunch of closets along the wall, that corridor doesn't have heating in itself (though it is connecting heated rooms obviously), I was thinking that might be a good place for the wood. Given what you're saying this might indeed be the best way to go. I'll try moving the wood there.

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You may try lightly clamping the end edges of the meranti as well to insure that the ends can spread no further. I would avoid tmeperature extremes for storage as well if possible. Wes probably has the best idea for you guys, keep it inside but away from the vents. You want air to be able to circulate around the pieces....just not desert dry air or extremely humid air either. Moisture exchange is what causes wood movement and rapid moisture exchange is the main cause of cracks, although internal stress can do that as well. Keeping a pan or bucket of water in the same area (closet perhaps) can help. If you are going with a humidifier, 50% is the target I hear most often....i don't know if there is any science behind that or just common sense, since avoiding extremes is the goal.


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