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Drying a large slab of sugar maple10/18
Hi, first time poster. A large sugar maple got cut down yesterday at my college, and I managed to snag a large slab (pictures below). It's 39" x 48" approximately, and 6.5" thick. I'd like to try to dry it and see if I can make an outdoor table.
I've read various web postings about how to do this and the inevitability of some cracks, which would be OK since I'd like this to look nice but perfection isn't the goal. Would like to minimize any ugly cracks.
If I understand correctly:
1) I should NOT pay for anyone to cut this in half (two 3" pieces) at this point since I might as well see if it dries well first (first year or so).
2) I should coat both ends with something to slow the drying process (don't to spend 100's on pentracryl). Don't want to use latex paint so the solution seems to be anchorseal or some homemade variations.
And wait 6 months to a year to see what happens to it sitting in my garage.
I hope you have coated the end grain with anchorseal already. It is most effective when applied soon after cutting. If you are close to NE Indiana, I'll dry this quickly in my vacuum kiln. Otherwise, it will take a very long time to become stable.
A few things...
Hopefully you have already sealed it, if your goal is to avoid cracks altogether (or, realistically, as much as possible). If you want to avoid "ugly cracks, I would recommend using an inlay material (such as commercially available Inlace) once the piece is entirely dry and ready to be finished to fill the cracks and make them "pretty" cracks.
This appears to be a beautiful piece of wood. Consider not using it as an outdoor table if you can prevent a significant amount of rot, but rather as a coffee table or some such thing.
Once it dries properly (think closer to 5-10 years at that thickness if air-dried) it will be a beast to flatten, sand, etc. I use a jig designed by Nick Offerman for leveling slabs out of Fine Woodworking (I think) to process these kinds of pieces. Follow this with a random orbit sander and a lot of patience, and you're on the right track.