First hollow forms

I had the good fortune this weekend to attend a hands-on turning class led by Trent Bosch, a well-known turner and wood sculptor. Here are the fruits of that class: two hollow forms turned from green ash.

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They’re about 4 1/2 inches diameter and about 4 inches tall. #1 (on the left) has kind of an amphora shape (minus the handles) with a rounded bottom, so it rests on it’s side. The photo doesn’t show it well, but there’s a little curl figure in #2 on the right. (It’s just a smartphone picture that I snapped this morning after I finished sanding and applying some Danish oil.)

It’s going to be a while before I do some more of this sort of thing. Turning hollow forms requires some tools I don’t have yet. Unless there’s some angel out there who’d like to gift me with some?


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.

“Sister” bowls, but with a twist

“Sister” bowls, but with a twist

I had a slice of green ash about six inches wide and 14 or so inches long, so I cut it into two squares and then turned a pair of simple bowls from them. One has just my standard Danish oil finish, but the second one developed a crack, so I decided to experiment a bit with it. I gave it a wash with some diluted fountain pen ink (Noodler’s Ink Bernanke Blue, in case you’re wondering), and then Danish oil. The difference is striking.

Here’s the un-tinted bowl.

(By the way, I love the swirl of the grain in this one.)

And here’s the tinted bowl.

The effect wasn’t what I expected. If you look closely you can see some of the blue, in the pores especially. But the overall effect is to mute the gold tones of the un-tinted wood.

I’ll have to experiment some more, perhaps with a less dilute ink wash, or with a finish like wipe-on polyurethane, which doesn’t effect the color as much as Danish oil.

Beauty from ash

Beauty from ash

Here’s the finished product from that chunk of charred green ash. I really had no idea whether or not this was going to work–whether the wood was going to be any good, whether the charred edge would hold together–but I’m pleased with the result. I left this one pretty thick, not knowing how the wood would behave, and I kind of like showing off the edge this way. I have a couple more pieces from the log, so I’ll try to make the next one thinner.

7 1/4″ by 5″ by 2 3/4″, Danish oil finish.

Maybe it’s a little crazy…

Last fall, while out cutting firewood, I found a chunk of green ash that had been charred when a grass fire burned through part of the woodlot. And I thought to myself, “Why not?”


Pretty ugly, isn’t it? Here it is now.


The tricky part now will be sanding it. Touching the charred part with sandpaper smears black dust all over the rest of the wood. I’ve soaked the char with some wipe-on polyurethane; hopefully that will stabilize the char so it doesn’t smear around quite so much. I’ll post a picture once I have the finish on it.


A big ash bowl

Last summer, I took down a dead green ash tree in the woodlot on my family’s farm. The tree was in the neighborhood of 100 years old, but during an extended wet cycle about 10 years ago, it died when the water table rose too high and drowned the roots. Most of it was cut and split for firewood, but I saved the larger crotch pieces because the figuring in ash crotch is phenomenally vivid. I┬áhad sliced a slab off the side of one of the crotch pieces, and was going to just use it for firewood, but something stayed my hand, and a couple of days ago, I decided to cut a bowl blank from it and see what came of it.

It was the largest diameter blank I have yet attempted, and it was rather lopsided when I started, so I had to take it slow until things were balanced better. Here’s a look at the bottom after I had it shaped and sanded.


And the inside (plus some detail of the bark rim):

Here it is after a couple coats of Danish oil, which brings out the grail beautifully:


Finished dimensions: 14 1/4″ long, 12 1/2″ wide, and 3 1/2″ high at the highest point.

Bowl #32: Green ash with plume figure

The shape of this bowl was partly determined by some checking in the piece of wood I started with, because I was trying to pare away the wood that was beginning to split. As it was, there were a couple of spots that I had to touch up with cyanoacrylate (superglue) to reinforce.

Bowl #32 (3)

It’s 7 inches diameter, and 2 inches high.

Here’s a picture showing the figuring in the interior:

Bowl #32 (4)

This one was a little challenging; ash is a hard wood to begin, but the tree this was taken from had been standing dead for a number of years, so the wood was seasoned. (Green wood is much easier to work than seasoned wood, but then you don’t have to worry as much about the warping that happens as green wood seasons.)