I’m sensing a trend here.
Caragana is a shub native to Mongolia and Siberia that was introduced to the United States in the 1700s as an ornamental. It’s common in the upper Great Plains. The wood is beautiful, but it never grows very large. This sphere is barely over 2 inches in diameter, and the branch it came from was about 2 1/4 inches.
Another sphere. This one is from a chunk of buckthorn I cut at my family’s farmstead in Steele County, North Dakota.
3 1/3″ diameter. Teak oil finish.
This was an ugly looking offcut of boxelder that I knew had some real potential, and now that it’s finished, I can’t pick my favorite side. The wood came from the North Dakota farmstead established by my grandparents, Anton and Petrea Jacobsen.
5 inches x 5 inches. Homemade friction polish finish (50/50 shellac and boiled linseed oil blend).
This is my first attempt at sphere turning. The basic concept is simple: Turn a rough sphere between centers, then rotate it 90 degrees and turn off the high spots, then rotate it 90 degrees again and turn off the high spots. But it does take a bit of finesse to make sure you get it properly centered each time.
I’m pretty happy with this one; the way the figuring in this green ash shifts in the light is fascinating.
3 1/2″ diameter, friction polish finish.
A local company salvages timber from buildings being torn down as well as urban trees being removed, and every once in a while they offer some of their “scrap” free for the taking as firewood. Being the frugal (a.k.a. cheap) guy I am, I brought home a load. One piece of poplar looked like it had potential so I chainsawed in in half to find some fun figuring. Here’s the result. 5 1/4″ high, 5″ diameter. Teak oil finish.
I just finished a couple of silver maple bowls that I had roughed out back in July. The first one had the beginnings of some spalting, and when you hold it up to the light, you can see that there’s a bit of curl.
11 1/2″ diameter, 3″ high. Walnut oil finish.
The curl in the second one is more pronounced. I gave this one a little foot to lift it off the tabletop just a bit.
12″ diameter, 3″ high. Walnut oil finish.
Here’s a peek at the curl. I’m always tickled when I find some of that in one of the pieces I turn. It’s like unwrapping a present.
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.