A friend of mine is the director of a Bible camp in west-central Minnesota, and I volunteered to help out with their spring cleanup this year. Since I own a chainsaw, you can guess what duty I was assigned to: clearing brush and cutting down some dead and diseased trees. Which ended up being a good thing, when I found three burls on a mostly dead oak tree. This was going to be fun!
When my daughter saw the first bowl I made from these burls, her immediate comment was “I am Groot.” I hadn’t actually seen those two voids and the horizontal line below them as a face, but now I can’t help but see it. 8 inches at the widest point, 5 inches high.
The next two came from a single, larger burl that also had a few large suckers growing out of it, which ended up becoming part of the rim on both bowls.
This one is about 8 1/2 inches in diameter at its widest point, and about 5 3/4 inches high.
This one is smaller, at 7 inches at the widest point, and 4 3/4 inches high.
I left them all fairly thick to show of the texture and character of the bark, and they are finished with teak oil.
My friend and fellow woodturner Paul Hedman was given a couple of trailer-loads of black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) logs, and generously offered some to me.
One of the logs had a large branch coming out from it, and when I sliced it open, this was the crotch figure and color that greeted me, so I was eager to get it onto the lathe. Here’s the result:
About 11 inches diameter, with walnut oil as the finish.
Here’s a closer look at the grain and the crotch figure…
The tree I got this wood from was a larger mountain ash in our neighborhood that had started declining last spring, and my wife “volunteered” me to help the homeowners take it down. I guess I can’t complain too much; the wood that was still sound has some fine spalting.
9″ diameter, 2 3/4″ high. Teak oil finish.
A friend gave me a chunk of a Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) a few weeks ago. I rough turned this when the wood was still wet, and it turned pretty nicely. I put the bowl into a paper bag to let it dry a bit before finish turning it. What a difference a couple of weeks makes! Now that it’s dry, this stuff is HARD. It’s worth it, though; it has wonderful grain, and takes a beautiful finish.
Russian olive is an introduced species in North America–it’s native to western and central Asia–but it grows well in harsh conditions and poor soils, so it’s fairly common in my area. They never grow very large, and the trunks and branches tend to be crooked, so it tends to be regarded somewhat as a “weed” tree. But as you can see, for uses like this, it’s worth a second look!
8 1/8″ diameter, 2 3/4″ high. Teak oil finish.
My workplace holds an annual basket raffle to raise funds for the United Way, and my boss and I are collaborating on a “Game Day” basket. Our “basket” is actually a cooler, filled with a bunch of snacks, some swag from North Dakota State University–Go Bison!–and this chip bowl decorated in Bison green and gold.
It’s silver maple, with some eye-catching chatoyancy and crotch figuring on the interior.
The stripes were added with marker and the finish is a durable carnauba/beeswax blend. 10 1/2″ diameter, 1 7/8″ high.
I was doing a bit of housecleaning in the corner of my basement that I call my shop when I ran across a small ash bowl I had turned back in January during an open house held by my woodturning club, MinnDak Woodturners. I didn’t sand it during the demo because who wants to watch someone sand?
So here’s the (finally) finished product. Sanded to 400 grit and finished with a carnauba/beeswax blend and buffed on the lathe.
Nothing fancy about it, just a clean, simple little bowl. 5 1/2″ diameter, 1 5/8″ high.
During midsummer this year, I heard that a friend was removing a few poplar trees from his property–a couple were dead or dying, and one was in the way of a shed he was planning to build. Being the wood scrounger that I am, I asked if I could come and take a few chunks.
This wood was very wet (you could see and feel the dampness of it when I was sawing the logs into blanks), so it had to be rough turned, coated with sealer to slow the drying and prevent cracking, and then set aside for a good while. But it was worth the wait. This is the first one I finish turned.
You can see a bit of curl figuring on the rim in this photo, and there are more patches of that on the inside. 9 1/2″ diameter, 3″ high. Walnut oil finish.