Drying wood for drums

      Avoiding checks, splits and cracks when drying lumber rounds for drum bodies. September 6, 2000

While in New Mexico and Arizona recently, I saw large drums made from cottonwood rounds, and smaller ones made from aspen. Does anyone know how the rounds (whole log cross sections) are dried to avoid cracking or radial checking?

If the rounds are hollowed while still green, they won't check. Removing the heart of the log gives the outer "ring" a place to go as it shrinks. The thinner you make the wall, the less chance there will be of cracking as it dries.

Put the wet sawdust from hollowing it out inside and around the outside of the roughed-out piece as it dries. This will slow the drying down, and reduce the stresses. The dried piece will not be round when dry.

I worked with a company about 20 years ago that hollowed out aspen logs to make drums and candles. They cut about 4 inches of diameter out of a 10-inch diameter log. Most dried without cracking. They stayed round and required minimal clean-up (not sure why the previous poster says they will not stay round -- these did).
Gene Wengert, forum moderator

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