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How to perserve Juniper wood

blinker6's picture

Does anyone know how to peserve juniper wood that has been under water for a long, long time. I am going to build a mantel for a fire place.

jonsherryl's picture

(post #82780, reply #1 of 4)

Blinker, the junipers are very decay resistant and stable woods. Unless the wood has been submerged so long that bacteria have weakened the wood tissue to the point that it is no longer sound, it should be possible to air dry it as you would freshly cut timber. However, if the water in which it has been submerged is brackish (salty), you may have another problem. Salt is extremely hygroscopic and when wood becomes contaminated with it the salt affects the way the wood reacts to changes in humidity and tends to make it much less stable. If it's a rustic style mantle and the wood can move a little or even develop a check or two that only adds to the character, salt contamination probably won't matter much...but if the style and joinery you use demands that the wood stays rigidly in place, it's a problem...and one without any really practical remedies.

blinker6's picture

(post #82780, reply #2 of 4)

Jon, thanks for the info. What I have got is a "Dead Head" log that I retrived from a creek on a friends property. It has been under water since it was cut down, no telling how many years ago. It is about 14 inches around and I want to cut it into a mantel for a fire place, using the natural grain and texture of the wood, but what could I put on it to smooth it out...... the grain is rough and the only thing I have done to it is to run a wire brush over it to clean it up. Any ideas on a mantel if you have any would be helpful, I have never done much wood working before

jonsherryl's picture

(post #82780, reply #3 of 4)

Blinker, I think I'm a bit confused now. As I understand it, you have a saturated juniper log 14" in diameter, you've wire brushed it and it's rough (fuzzy?)

I think what you want to do is have the log milled while it is still wet to the rough dimensions you intend to use, then let it air dry. Once it is seasoned, you should be able to wire brush it without it fuzzing up. The junipers are very decay resistant and stable woods, so it should not be difficult to season. You don't want to apply any finish until the wood is thoroughly seasoned.  

Edited 5/16/2002 8:21:43 PM ET by Jon Arno

Upraiser's picture

(post #82780, reply #4 of 4)


I live in the middle of the worlds largest stand of Juniper.  I guess I don't quite understand how it got sunk in a creek.

The Juniper is part of the cedar family. It is fairly soft, has a fair amount of oil  The ones I am familiar with have a lot of built in stress,  many have a lot of sand, gravel and who knows what mixed into to the knots and cracks, rather hard on saw blades.   The stress problems can show up years later with large cracks.

The wood is used for some for mantels, posts, even cut into lumber and used for some furniture.   It has nice color & grain.  I have seen it left natural, some with finish.

What part of the country are you in and where did you find the log. 

Curt  in Central Oregon