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I have a small elm (?) burl that I'm hoping has something nice in it. I'm not sure how to prep it for drying. In my experience milling elm, the sapwood shrinks significantly more than the heartwood while air drying and checks all over the place.

Should I:

  • Trim the branches?
  • Strip the bark?
  • If so, seal the side grain?
  • Seal the end grain?
  • Physically stabilize it with band clamps or something?

The main volume is roughly a 14" cube. It was recently cut down, and also it's been rainy.

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Elm seems to be a bit of a crapshoot but I've got my fingers crossed. Not sure what I want to use it for yet so I'd like to keep it whole for now. Might fill voids with resin after it's dry if it looks promising.

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    Seal the major end grain surfaces definitely. Then put it under cover to air dry for a couple/few years? Are you thinking more turning blanks, handle blanks or veneer?
    – Graphus
    Oct 30 '19 at 17:12
  • @Graphus Probably veneer unless I get the lathe I've had my eye on in the mean time, in which case turning blanks maybe for a couple bowls or cups if it's not in bad shape.
    – Jason C
    Oct 30 '19 at 17:48
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    (I.e. no idea, lol)
    – Jason C
    Oct 30 '19 at 17:54
  • Care to share (in an answer) what you ended up doing? Others might find it helpful.
    – FreeMan
    May 24 at 16:45
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The typical "let's see what happens" approach is to clean it off best you can, coat the whole thing in a layer of wax, and let it sit in a dry place for few years.

An even more lazy approach is to bury it in a box of wood shavings and ignore it for years.

A more active approach is to carve away most of the obvious waste and treat it in a bath of PEG to replace most of the water in the burl. See this answer for more information on stabilizing wood with PEG.

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