Originally Posted by TheFishBox
Could you elaborate on this a little more please. Am I just wasting my time or is it because the wood is hard and thus making it harder to work with.
I wouldn't say you are wasting your time, but Yew wood is not commonly used in making gunstocks. It has been a favorite among bow makers over the years.
With regard to the moisture/drying of your piece of wood, it is important to keep in mind that green wood contains moisture in different forms. "Free water" and "absorbed water" are the two most common terms. The "free water" is found in the cell cavaties, and the "absorbed water" is found in the capillaries of the cell walls. When the green wood starts to lose water, the cell walls remain saturated until the free water has evaporated. The point at which evaporation of free water is complete, and all the cell walls begin to lose their moisture, is called the "fiber saturation point". This is generally about 20-30% for most wood species. As your piece of wood dries below the "fiber saturation point", and begins to lose moisture from the cell walls, it will actually shrink. This is where you see the end checking and cracking. As the wood shrinks, it actually becomes stronger.
A piece of wood should be looked at as though it were a sponge... It will give off or take on moisture relavent to the surrounding atmosphere until the moisture in the wood corresponds to the atmosphere..
If I pull a blank off the pile and check it for moisture content, and it pings the meter at 10%, it takes a two week vacation in the kiln to pull the "absorbed water" an knock it down a few %. If it comes out of the kiln at 6%, I let in acclimate for a bit, which invariabily will bring the content up a % or so.
It may sound like a bunch of scientific ju ju, but when you are working with high end gunstock blanks, it helps to have an understanding of what is going on inside that piece of wood so you don't end up with a pile of high end firewood...
My kids have toasted marshmallows over the fire pit fueled with pieces of Turkish and English walnut... Like shortgrass said, some lessons are learned the hard way...