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.
One of my kids’ favorites when they were growing up was the PBS show “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” And one of his songs that we adopted for our own started with the line “Let’s think of something to do while we’re waiting.”
Monday was our oldest daughter’s due date, and from a phone call earlier in the day, we had a feeling that things were going to start happening. So to keep my mind occupied, I mounted a large chunk of green ash (rescued from the curbside in our neighborhood) on the lathe.
The grain and color is everything I could have hoped for, and when you look inside…
…there’s some subtle curl.
11 1/2″ diameter by 3 3/8″ high. Walnut oil finish.
I rescued a few large green ash logs off the curb last week, and while most of it is destined for our firewood pile (green ash is dandy firewood), I sawed a few bowl blanks from one of the larger pieces.
Update: Here’s the outside cleaned up, sanded to 400 grit, and with an application of walnut oil finish. (I’m planning to add a pyrography texture between those dark lines.)
Update 2: I didn’t expect to see that much curl figure in this.
I modeled this silver maple bowl after the stoneware bowl my mother always used for making bread dough. Mom’s is a bit larger than this, but I think I came pretty close to the basic proportions (although I’m operating purely from memory).
This was twice turned, and after the rough bowl dried, it was the most lopsided one I’ve done yet.
8 3/4″ diameter by 3″ high. Walnut oil finish.
The bark on this one was in large scales, so I’m happy that I managed to keep as much of it on as I did. It still needs to be sanded and then have a finish applied (most likely teak oil; that’s my present finish of choice for decorative items).
Here’s a shallow green ash bowl I made for my nephew and his new bride. The wood, which has great crotch figuring, came from our family farm.
10″ by 2″. Danish oil finish.
Interior view, showing that crotch “plume” figure.
Another silver maple bowl that has a beautiful chatoyance. It’s not the ripple that you see in curly maple, but it’s striking. I’m doing a little experiment with this one: it’s finished with walnut oil, which takes a little longer to cure but is completely food-safe. (Note: pretty much every finish is “food safe” once it’s fully cured, but walnut oil starts out food safe, since it is food. But it also has the advantage of being able to cure to a solid finish without going rancid.)
UPDATE: This bowl is available on Etsy.
10 1/8″ diameter, 2 1/4″ high.
Interior shot of that figure.
A neighbor had to remove an ornamental pear tree that had died, and I rescued the trunk from being chipped for mulch. This is one of the products. A bit nicer than mulch, don’t you think?
8 7/8″ diameter, 2 3/4″ high.
I’ve been working with quite a bit of green wood recently, which means that I have to turn bowls twice: once to rough out the basic size and shape, and then after a period of controlled drying, once more to correct for the warping that inevitably occurs when wood dries. Here’s a bunch that I finished over the weekend:
Back row, left to right: Birch – 7 3/4″ x 2 3/4″, Silver Maple – 9″ x 2 1/2″
Middle row, left to right: Ornamental Pear – 8 3/8″ x 2 1/2″, Ornamental Pear – 8 3/4″ x 2 1/2″
Front: Birch – 7 1/8″ x 1 3/4″
I’ve been working with some silver maple that a friend gave me–they had to cut down a large tree in their daughter’s yard, and offered me some of the larger branches. It’s still quite wet since it was just cut, and so if I turn things to their final size, the pieces will warp as the wood dries.
So I’ve been turning the pieces to close to the final size and shape I want.
Moist, green wood like this turns nicely, and the ribbons of shavings that come flying off the end of a good sharp gouge makes this process a lot of fun. I finished four bowls this morning, and put them into paper grocery bags to help slow down the drying process. (If wood dries too fast, you’re more likely to get cracks.) It will probably take a couple of months until these are ready to finish.