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I plan to make a three-legged stool from three branch pieces and a slice of trunk from a forty-year-old oak we just took out of our yard. I’m wondering whether I should put the screws in now so it will grab them tighter when it dries, or whether to wait so it doesn’t loosen as it dries.

In response to questions, here are the loose pieces in position.  The idea was to drill the legs and bottom the shaft size of the four-inch double-pointed screws.enter image description hereenter image description here

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    tighter, but it could also split it. you could do tendons, but it's probably best to wait if you don't have a lot of woodworking experience.
    – dandavis
    Oct 16, 2021 at 6:49
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    No first hand experience, but friends that have rebuilt an early 1800's cabin used new oak, not seasoned, as nails could be driven into the new wood but would have been much more difficult once the oak seasons.
    – SteveSh
    Oct 16, 2021 at 8:36
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    Wood shrinks as it dries....so it would grab screws tighter...at least in theory! Oct 16, 2021 at 15:00
  • Is the seat of the stool going to be a cross section of the tree trunk , or a section split in half to make the sitting portion? This will affect greatly how the wood reacts to shrinkage. I can already foresee the limbs being full round limbs for the legs... Will it be a tall stool or short?
    – Jack
    Oct 16, 2021 at 15:39
  • Looser and tighter. Depends on which direction you're going and whether you're looking inside-out or outside-in.
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 17, 2021 at 1:43

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The screws are the least of your worry.

Expect the round to check and crack.

There are some questions on the Woodworking sister site about drying pieces like this including some advice on how to get them to dry while minimizing the size/amount of checks that happen. But it will have some sort of checking at a minimum, potentially splitting in two, worst case, if it's not dried properly.

You can turn green wood into a bowl and use the warpage as it dries as a decorative/creative effect, but in a thick slab like this, you're going to be sorely disappointed if you don't care for it extremely carefully.

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  • We're in the Willamette valley, so plenty of rain is likely. But it is under a roof at the moment. If we end up discarding it, no biggie. But I'll look at some of the references.
    – WGroleau
    Oct 17, 2021 at 6:36
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Sounds like a fun project! I hate to say it, but you'd be better off and have a better result if you gave that oak a chance to dry. Rule of thumb is about 1 year per inch of thickness air drying in an area with relatively low humidity. You don't have to go that long, but I'd at least give it a few months before trying to work it. You'll want to sticker it (putting small slats between the parts to aid for air flow). If you have a covered area, like a woodshed or covered patio, that would be best, you don't want to cover it tightly with a tarp, it needs airflow. I know this doesn't directly answer your question, but just wanted to give you my advice. If you put it together green and wet, I really think you're gonna have some issues. Sorry to rain on your parade, but for best results, give that oak at least a few months to dry out in a covered (not tarped) area.

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    Additionally, expect the round to crack and check. There are some questions on Woodworking about drying pieces like this including some advice on how to get them to dry while minimizing the size/amount of checks that happen. But it will have some sort of checking at a minimum, potentially splitting in two, worst case, if it's not dried properly.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 16, 2021 at 17:22
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    @FreeMan YES, YES and YES! Now having seen the picture, that large round is almost surely to check if dried too quickly. It's not likely to split in two, bc once the first major check happens, it relieves the tension on the rest of the round. But it will probably check right to the center of the round unless dried very very slowly. You should probably post your comment as an answer, I'll UV it if you do. I already UV your comment. Oct 16, 2021 at 20:28

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