Most wood related problems can be limited by kiln drying the wood at some point prior to your purchase of it.
Currently, we use a solar-powered heat & vent kiln for lumber and a dehumidifier kiln for turnings. All products made by Orange are kiln dried by these means. However, we do stock a number of products made in villages throughout Belize and from places around the world where kiln drying is not available.
Wood is the most alive dead substance on the face of the planet! It expands and contracts, absorbs and releases moisture, warps, twists, cracks, molds, and rots. It seems to do just about everything except just lie there and behave like wood should!
All wood finishes are micro-porous at best, and will allow the absorption and release of moisture in the wood. A micro-porous finish, as opposed to no finish, will only serve to slow the absorption or release of moisture. Moisture entering or leaving the wood is not necessarily a problem. When it happens too quickly then there's a problem.
At this point, we'll discard the absorption of moisture as it does not pose a problem except for when it comes to trying to re-dry the wood or if we were to be speaking of draws and doors expanding and sticking in their frames.
So, our mission is to slow the release of moisture (also known as "diffusion") from the wood into the surrounding air. The rate of diffusion will depend on how wet the wood is in comparison to the dryness of the surrounding air.
To complicate the possibilities, many homes are winter-heated and cooled by air-conditioners in the summer. Others have dehumidifiers in their basements. These two effects have the same outcome: super dry air in you home ( unless you have a humidifier).
Belize it or not, the solution is simple!
This process limits the amount of air surrounding the wooden product. Diffusion starts rapidly at first (if there is a large difference between the amount of moisture in the wood and your home) but the air in the bag is quickly saturated and, as it reaches the moisture content of the wood, it slows down and finally stops. At this point, the wood has reached its Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC) and parts of the wood that gave up their moisture quicker will be forced to wait for the rest of the wood to catch up. As a result, the wood is able to stabilize and stresses that would have cracked the wood, are relieved. After about a week, repeat the procedure by removing the wood from the bag, turning the bag inside out, replacing the wood and resealing the bag.
Do this over a three week period and you should have reduced the moisture content of the wood to within a close range of the humidity level in you home! Congratulations! You are the owner of your own wood drying company without even knowing it!
After the three week period has passed, set the piece out where it will live for the rest of its days (not too far from where you did the drying procedure). Keep an eye on it over the next two or three days. If you notice tiny hairline cracks (called checks) quickly put it back in the bag for another round of drying. If you catch the hairline checks quick enough, they will go away. If you don't, your wooden product may crack even more, develop character, and who knows, maybe it will be worth more! For the products that are made at Orange Belize and or kiln dried there, you can skip the bag part and just put it out where it's going to live. However, keep an eye on it and bag it if you see any checks occurring.
All our chairs have an oil finish. Our chairs do just as good outdoors as they do indoors! The only care you may wish to give them is to put a thin coat of linseed oil on them about every 4 to 6 months. Cooking oil, teak oil, or any type of furniture oil will work just fine. Mahogany, like most woods, will oxidize over time and turn that lovely "aged-red Mahogany" color. If they are left outside for several years without putting any oil on them, they'll turn a lovely silver-grey!
All our cutting boards have a wax finish on them. Wax helps to keep the color of the woods true. All our chopping boards, even though they have a beautiful "show-type" finish, are constructed to be used daily! We reccommend that you just wash it when you're done (not reccommended to submerse it for long periods of time), let it dry then wipe on a thin coat of cooking oil. After a year or so of heavy daily use (like we use in our kitchens at Caesar's Place Guest House and Black Rock Lodge), simply re-finish it with sandpaper and a thin coat of oil when you're done.
Bowls and Vases
All our bowls and vases have a wax finish on them. Wax helps to keep the color of the woods true. Even though they have a beautiful "show-type" finish, the bowls can be used for salads and soups! We reccommend that you just wash them when you're done (not reccommended to submerse them for long periods of time), let them dry then wipe on a thin coat of cooking oil.
Simply buff items with a clean soft cloth to regain their shine. A thin coat of wax every 4 months or so, depending on use, will keep your items beautiful.
Items which have a polyurethane finish do not need any care what-so-ever. If the finish becomes scratched, simply wax and buff to make the scratch disappear.
Prior to machine washing it is best to hand wash or soak fabric in a combination of water and small amount of salt to set the colors. Rinse well. After setting the colors the fabric may be machine washed in cold water using a mild soap. It is preferable to line dry but it may also be machine dried. However there may be shrinkage in the length if machine dried.