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I have already gotten a lot of great info from some previous questions on here, but honestly speaking, I am trying to find a reliable answer for my ten year-old, son who (probably rightly) doubts my woodworking knowledge. I cut a green branch from a very old yew in our yard. Not knowing what I was doing (but thinking perhaps I did), I immediately stripped off the bark and threw the stick in the creek. I had stripped it past the softwood, until it was about 1.5 inch thick and 6 feet long. After it sat on the bottom of the creek for a few days, I brought it to the workshop and clamped it to the bench, where it has now sat for merely one week. When my son asked if we could unclamp it, I said no, it needs to sit so it will dry more straight. When he asked how long, I said, I don't know, but probably a long time. So after all that rambling, here is my question: Is a long time 2 weeks, or is it more like a year?

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  • I could be wrong, but I'm not sure if you can ever expect it to stay straight.
    – bowlturner
    Commented Dec 7, 2022 at 16:57
  • Thanks for the help. I guess with some hard work, maybe I'll have a very pretty, but slightly bent, walking stick. Commented Dec 7, 2022 at 17:15
  • For your consideration: Natural bends and kinks in a walking stick make it "unique", not "flawed".
    – FreeMan
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 18:51

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How long should I leave a green yew stick clamped to a bench for straightening?

Don't. That's not how to dry wood.

Makers of walking sticks and hiking poles, who harvest saplings and branches from the wild as raw material, may aim to harvest fairly straight stock but they don't sweat it if anything suitable is found that has a bend.

They'll take it anyway because they know they can bend the wood straighter (dead straight if that is the requirement) after drying. Heat-bending is how some of the very pronounced crooks at the head of some sticks are formed, and natural bends are taken out by the same methods.

So that is how you should approach this — and anyway you don't want to tie up your bench and the clamps for the entire drying time, which could be lengthy!

How lengthy? The drying schedules you'll find online or in books may tend to err on the side of caution, but stick material is regularly slimmer (much slimmer) than 1.5" in diameter so it may balance out. In which case, as a rough guide, you do probably want to wait a full year if you want the best outcome for your project.

Note: unless you've sealed the end grain well (at both ends of the stick) you can expect to lose inches of material to drying cracks. Again, how much is down to the wood and the drying conditions. You could be lucky and it's under 2", but in worst cases one or two fine cracks can extend 4-6" even with slow drying in humid conditions.

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  • Wow. Thanks for all the great info. I had no idea it was such a long, expensive process. I don't guess I'll be doing any heat-bending any time soon. I guess I'll have a crooked stick. But, at least maybe I won't fall this winter! Commented Dec 7, 2022 at 20:34
  • Welcome. There can be very little expense involved in small-scale heat bending as you can successfully do localised heating using nothing more than a damp rag and a heat gun, although TBH this would work far better with a stick of smaller diameter.
    – Graphus
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 11:00

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