Context: I got my hands on 2 freshly cut peices of a fallen down maple tree. they are roughly 12-14 inches in diametre and about 2-3 feet tall.
Based on my research, I've read that it's best to let the wood dry out before attempting to stain and seal it. Some people recommend months, and some recommend years.
Now, I dont want to wait that long! I've already stripped the bark and I am planning on sanding them down. They've been drying out in my garage for about 3-4 weeks now. They are a little cold and a tiny bit damp to the touch.
Question: What would happen if i were to proceed with the staining and sealing of the stump, assuming that the core is still slightly damp? Any advice would be much appreciated.
Also, as another option, i could bring them both in to dry (or "season") inside but im afraid that i might bring in some unwanted bugs. Is there a way to ensure that all the bugs inside are removed or killed?
Stripping the bark is a good first step, but you might want to give it a year or longer to dry. You'll want to store it in a warm, dry place with good air circulation around the log. Also, paint the exposed end grain with a good solid coat of latex paint to seal it - that will prevent the ends from drying much quicker than the center. Also, depending on how rapidly the log dries, you could get a lot of surface cracking if the outer portions of the wood dry and shrink quicker than the inner portions.
No sense sanding and sealing them at this point - you are just sealing all that moisture into the log. You can look forward to mold and mildew under the finish.
As has been posted you need to seal the ends of the logs to prevent the wood from drying too rapidly and in an uneven manner.
The log will lose moisture from the ends rapidly, shrink in relation to the middle of the log, and start splitting.
It will take a while to dry the wood, a year is a good guess to get it down to a moisture content that's at least usable, if you leave it outside, protected from the rain and direct sunlight. Moving them inside will cause the log to dry too rapidly and you will have splits.
Once the log has been outside for a year, move it inside for 6 months to complete the drying.
Removing the bark is a good plan to reduce the chances of insect invasion.
Do not stain or seal the exterior of the log, or you will start a mildew science experiment.