And so it goes…

I had a silver maple bowl roughed out, cut from the same chunk of wood as one I wrote about a few weeks ago. I was a little concerned, though, because this one had a large bark inclusion in the bottom.

Well, I put it back on the lathe this evening, and started smoothing up the outside. It hadn’t warped that badly as it dried, and the wood was cutting nicely. Part of the bark came through to the outside, leaving a void that, although a bit tricky to work around, was a nice element in the look of the bowl.

On to the inside. That was a bit rougher. The bark inclusion was causing a lot of clatter as the gouge cut easily through that and then hit the much harder wood. But I was making good progress, and nearly had it ready to sand, when BANG!

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The tenon on the bottom (which is how I grip the bowl in the chuck) snapped off. There was enough of the bark going down into the tenon, which weakened it too much.

I guess this one is bound for the firepit.

Tricorn #2

This is the sister bowl to the other oak tricorn bowl that I posted a few days ago, turned from the other half of the log. I always like it when I can create a pair of bowls like this. (I managed it with a pair of my earliest natural edge bowls, which have mirror-image bark inclusions in the base.)

Bowl_104-2_1024x575This one is a bit larger than the first one: 11 inches long, 9 1/2 inches wide, and 3 1/8 inches high at the highest point. It has a Danish oil finish.

 

A plain elm milestone

Late last summer, my wife’s aunt had to have all of the elm trees on her property cut down because they had become infected with Dutch Elm disease. For some reason, the tree service left one stump intact (they ground up the rest of them), so I decided to see what I could make of it.

I sliced it into a couple of thick slabs, and then roughed out a pair of large bowls, which I placed in paper bags to slowly dry. (Letting wet wood dry slowly helps avoid the cracking and checking that happens when it dries too quickly.)

Here’s the first of the pair, which coincidentally, is the 100th bowl that I have finished.

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American elm is a lovely hard wood, with an interlocking grain that creates some interesting patterns that shift as you view it from different angles. (The technical term is chatoyance.) Here’s a look at what I’m talking about.

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10 3/8″ diameter, 2 3/4″ high. Danish oil finish.

Redbud natural edge

My wife and I spent some time visiting family in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area the week before Easter. While walking in my brother’s Grand Prairie neighborhood, I found some chunks of an unknown species of wood sitting on the curbside, waiting for the garbage pickup.

I’m not one to turn my nose up at free wood, so I grabbed a few chunks. After some research, I determined that it’s redbud (Cercis canadensis). It turns beautifully and takes a nice finish without much fuss.

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The logs I took were kind of knobby, hinting at some possible burl-like figuring. Here’s a closer look at the figuring that I found.

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7 3/4″ long, 5 1/2″ wide, 2 1/2″ high. Danish oil finish.

Heart bowl

Heart bowl

WP_20160306_002I have a couple of green ash crotch pieces in my woodpile, so I sliced them open a couple of days ago to see what the figuring was like. Here’s the first piece, mounted on the lathe. Step one is to flatten what’s going to be the bottom and turn either a tenon or a recess on the bottom for the chuck to grip once you get the basic outside shape made.

Then you start peeling away the shavings, forming the outside. On an irregular piece like this, you have to slow the lathe down, because the wood is unbalanced. WP_20160306_003Turn it too fast, and things start vibrating, which is a kind of excitement I don’t need. This shot shows the piece from the headstock end of the lathe, which gives you an idea of the overall orientation of the trunk and branches on this. (This tree was standing dead, and all of the bark had fallen off. The wood itself was still perfectly sound, though.)

After getting the outside shape defined, I sanded it to 400 grit, and then flipped it over and started hollowing it out. After getting more wood removed, you can start speeding up the lathe, and things begin moving a little faster.

And here’s the finished bowl, sanded inside and out to 400 grit, and finished with two applications of Danish oil. I call it a Heart bowl, because the overall shape is like a heart–more anatomical than Valentine’s Day.