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"Wood Outgassing" - what should I know?

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Valued Member
United States
292 Posts
 Posted 02/26/2012  8:48 pm Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add ContraJame to your friends list Get a Link to this Message

In the next week or two my father is going to build a horizontal gun and coin cabinet for me.

Here's a picture for reference.



I plan on storing my guns and my coin collection in this cabinet. The gun mounts will be covered in a felt like material (haven't figured out what material yet) to prevent contact between the guns and the wood.

The coins will likely go in drawers at the base of the cabinet. This means they'll be in a small enclosed compartment made of wood. I see outgassing as a possible concern but I'm not sure of things like what types of wood are good or bad, what types of seal are good or bad, and what types of material are good or bad.

What advice can you give, dear CCF family?

Bedrock of the Community
United States
12956 Posts
 Posted 02/26/2012  11:01 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add just carl to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I think your already well aware of the possible problems. As any wood dries it emits all sorts of gasses. Mostly moisture and that is where a lot of other substances are carried. Placing a coin or gun in a raw wood anything is asking for problems. Also, mamy think coating the wood with stains, paints, varnishes, etc. will protect what is inside the item. This too could actually add to the problem since any of those too, emit something as they dry. To compound the problem is raw wood is porus and absorbs moisture and then when the temperature is right, reissues that moisture.
The most important thing is to make sure the wood is well dried and eventaully coated with something.
Good luck.
just carl
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United States
284 Posts
 Posted 02/26/2012  11:55 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DM1975 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Seal the wood really well and let it dry properly and you should be fine. A heavy and properly applied lacquer should work fine, also if you have it well venelated it should help. Airtights or Kointain coin capsules or maybe dansco albums would also help if everything is properly ventilated as well.
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Australia
585 Posts
 Posted 02/27/2012  03:58 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add turtleoverhead to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
A heavy and properly applied lacquer should work fine

Modern lacquer produces all kinds of fumes, use shellac (French polish) . Safe timber is mahogany, the worst is oak, it makes silver go black.
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United States
292 Posts
 Posted 02/27/2012  08:03 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ContraJame to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I forgot to mention that all of the wood will be kiln dried. From what I'm reading it looks like that will take care of most of the harmful stuff contained in the wood. If he leaves the interior of the chest raw but finishes the exterior and I apply a safe fabric to the interior I should be okay it seems. Do you all agree?
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288 Posts
 Posted 02/27/2012  08:04 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add VetStudent to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Was not remotely aware of this risk of storing in wood....good to know!
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 Posted 02/27/2012  08:16 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add just carl to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
If he leaves the interior of the chest raw but finishes the exterior and I apply a safe fabric to the interior I should be okay it seems. Do you all agree?


NO. Although the wood has been dried, as I mentioned it is still pourous. All woods are pourous. Sort of even worse to seal the outside and leave the inside raw. Sort of creating a place where when you open the thing, moisture gets in and then you close it and now difficult to allow the moisture to evaporate. Wooden items are also difficult to completely seal. Drawers for example seldom have the sides that slid sealed with anything that may eventually create binding. Most never seal the rears of drawers since not seen. From your photo it appears this cabinet sits flush to the floor and usually again, the bottoms are never sealed so as to not get stuck to the floor or rugs.
Yet looks like a great cabinet but I'd really find a place eto allow it to completely dry out prior to using it.
Also, remember that once you use a gun, the insides are coated with gun powder residue. Do not put uncleaned guns in that cabinet with coins. Some gun powders will create all kinds of problems with coins and leather products.
just carl
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United States
284 Posts
 Posted 02/27/2012  09:44 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DM1975 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Good point about keeping the guns and coins together. What do you think bait the solvents themselves such as CLP? I would think this would be a problem for the coins as well.
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United States
3588 Posts
 Posted 02/27/2012  10:09 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Indian1 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I would use Cedar for the chest.
Valued Member
United States
292 Posts
 Posted 02/27/2012  10:09 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ContraJame to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Good points, indeed. I'd never store an uncleaned gun. Surely no one does such a thing? And I plan on keeping the coins in the two drawers down below.

Since this thing will be created from scratch I can throw pretty much any design change his way and he won't argue. My plan is to sketch the entire thing out so he has a general idea on the design and dimensions. I'm sure he'll make changes seeing as I'm not versed in wood working. If you were to change things up on the chest design what would you do, Carl? Add legs to move it up off the floor? Have him seal everything? Only seal what is exposed and add a dehumidifier/silica pad to absorb the moisture? There's pleanty for me to research but I'm curious. There's nothing better than good advice from experienced people.
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 Posted 02/27/2012  10:42 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add mysilveryears to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I'm a woodworker and I would never recommend cedar for storage of metallic items. This wood is well known for the strong odors it releases over long periods of time. It's great for repelling insects but odor release = damage to metals. Probably the safest wood that is easy to obtain and work with is poplar. Maple is good but much harder to fabricate. Oak, cherry, walnut all contain substances that will seriously stain silver (and other raw metals) as noted above. Virtually all evergreens (pine, spruce, fir etc) will release volatile substances that could harm coins. You might consider building the cabinet of wood, then using separate polypropylene containers for the coins.
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United States
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 Posted 02/27/2012  10:52 am  Show Profile Check jgfindring's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add jgfindring to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Also, when fabric covering the inside of drawers with fabric (I use a velour type fabric) be careful of your adhesive, as that is as or more dangerous than wood finishes regarding fumes. I have had good luck with 3M Super 77 spray adhesive.
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 Posted 02/27/2012  10:55 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add dave700x to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Gerstner tool boxes are made of wood and I have never heard any complaints from tool makers who use these.
Valued Member
United States
187 Posts
 Posted 02/27/2012  2:25 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add RMAN4443 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:

Gerstner tool boxes are made of wood and I have never heard any complaints from tool makers who use these.


I agree on the quality of Gerstner as I am a machinist who owns one,but the Gerstner is made of oak and is meant to hold hand tools which come into contact with oils and chemicals.These tools are not damaged by long term exposure to heat,humidity and moisture,all of which would do great damage to a valued coin collection.
My opinion only,but I would not use oak,or any of the aromatic or oily woods.And remember they use cedar in cigar humidors to attract and help contain humidity.
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United States
12956 Posts
 Posted 02/27/2012  6:28 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add just carl to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I would use Cedar for the chest.

I was beaten with an answer to that. Note that Cedar is used for moth repellant since it emits gasses for long periods of time. Cedar blocks and hangers are used for clothing places since it keeps away most insects.
If you think about it any wood that you can smell must be giving off some kind of vapors that create that smell.
As to keeping it off the floor flat, legs would help dissapate moisture with increased evaporation due to air movements. Whoever is making this should be instructed to seal everything including the bottom and rears. As I mentioned though, many wood people will tell you that some sealants tend to get sticky in warm areas which is one reason for not sealing the parts of a drawer that must slide. Many of the more expensive furnature makers, such as Thomasville, tend to place metal sliding systems in for the drawers. This makes the drawers always slide and then all sides of a drawer can be sealed.
Any type of moisture absorbing material is great except most people tend to forget that they do not absorb moisture forever. Eventually they get what could be called full. Then they may as well be a lump of clay. Only use them if you know you can remember to change them.
One little suggestion is if it were me, I'd have a sort of left out tray or something for the top section. It appears to be excessively deep for no reason. Possibly a half shelf on one side for small firearms and leaving enough room for rifles and/or shotguns to slid into place. Such a shelf would leave all drawers free for coins. Or have more drawers for coins. Or make those present drawers deep enough for a left out tray so you could put in more coins.
Another idea is to check with coin dealers as to where they get those trays they use at coin shows that have places for individual 2x2's.
Hope I'm not boring everyone, as usual.
OOPps. Had to edit this to add one more thing. As to a lock on that cabinet. Great if you have kids around but don't bother with a large horrible one since anything wood is easily opened with a crow bar.
just carl
Edited by just carl
02/27/2012 6:32 pm
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 Posted 02/27/2012  6:40 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Buddy to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I'm not a cabinetmaker -- although my husband has made about half of our furniture...still...well, it's just a thought. The bottom drawers could hold air-tight containers. I keep my coins in those little fire-proof lock boxes that you can find at office supply stores. They are not safes but I figure they do offer some protection from humidity.

Have you checked with any archivists to see what they recommend or use? There are entire sites devoted to archival supplies so maybe you could get some information -- especially about drawer liners, there.
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