Saturday, February 26, 2011

Destruction for Microwaves

June 16, 2008

Current mood:nostalgic

Here's a little story from a few years ago.  As a Pagan it occurred to me that I should have my own wand.  As a luthier (guitar repair person) my favorite instrument wood is maple.  So it only made sense to me that I use maple to make my wand.

So my first thought was, "where do I get the maple?"  I could buy it at a lumber yard, glue the boards together, and cut it out from there.  However that would feel like I was cheating.  So when I was up hunting in Perry, Florida (just 40 miles south of Georgia) I ran into a bit of good luck. 

You see, where I hunt there are only dirt roads.  However, they are well taken care of with a road grater.  They have a road grater go to all the different hunting roads and clean up/ repair the roads when they fall into disrepair and/ or bad shape.  So when out at my hunting spot I notice this six foot tall maple tree on the edge of the road.  Now, this road is in good shape, so that's why the road grater hasn't cut it in a while.  Although, I figured it would be just a matter of time before the grater would drop by, and cut down the maple.  So, even though it was against the law to cut into a live tree in a Wildlife Management Area, I went ahead, and cut the tree down.  I figured it was just a matter of time before the road grater got it, so between me and grater, I thought I would get the most use out of it.

So, after I get back from hunting, or as I call it sleeping in trees, I start to get to work on the wood.  Since the wood is still nice and wet, I easily strip off the bark.  The thick part of the tree is about six foot tall.  I end up cutting it into three sections for three wands.  Thanks to my belt sander, and other destructive tools, I cut out three nice, and very distinctive wands.  I finish cutting and shaping them, and am quite pleased with my work.  Now comes the interesting part.  I need to dry out the wood.

Now, I can leave them out in garage for a year, and let them dry out naturally, but then another great idea pops in my head.  I think, well I don't have a dehydrator, but I do have a microwave.  I have microwaved wood before.  I was 14, and was making oak nunchucks with my best pal Erick.  Of course the wood caught on fire, and his whole house ended up smelling like a fireplace for a week.  So to avoid that kind of mess, I took the microwave far outside.

Since I had done this before I wasn't even thinking about what could go wrong.  I would just put a wand in the microwave every two minutes, and everything would be ok.  What I didn't take into account was, maple is not oak.  This maple is in fact sugar maple.  It is named so because it is full of maple syrup.  Do you know what happens when sugar gets hot?  First off , it carmelizes.  Then, it catches fire. 

So while microwaving my first wand, the sugar starts to pour out of the wood like crazy.  It then catches fire, and starts smoking like crazy.  Then what's even worse, the sugar inside the wood starts cooking internally, and turns the inside of the wood into charchol.  So that wand is ruined.

So take two.  I start to find out once you get the wood hot, you can't microwave the wood for even 40 seconds without it bursting into flames.  The second wand comes out ok, but with a few scorch marks.  The third one turns out pretty good.

However there is one problem.  I now have a microwave with blackened sides, and it smells like a fireplace.  So I break out the Comet, soap, and other cleaning utensils.  It's a dirty job, but I made the mess, I should clean it up.  I thought I did a pretty good job cleaning it up, but I did forget one thing.  The first time I started the microwave it gave off the distinctive smell of burning wood, and ash.  I forgot to put it through a test run outside. 

After a while it stopped smelling like something was seriously burning.  However, I now realize I should really invest in a dehydrator.  Oh, I still have the second wand, and it works well for me.  The other wand I gave to a friend of mind named SK.

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