It’s not Manic Monday, but here are the Bangles

I’ve been turning for a bit over two years now, and have ended up with various scraps of wood that are too small for bowls, but too good to toss into the fire. What to do?

Make some jewelry. Bangle bracelets, to be specific. Here are the first three.


As with anything, it’s been a learning process. With the first one (American elm crotch, on the left), my main objective was to get it close to the right size for my wife. She doesn’t own many bangle bracelets because she has a hard time finding any that fit her well; most are too small. I was shooting for about 70 millimeters on that one, and came pretty close. It fits well, but I wanted to make one a bit wider.

That led to attempt number two (green ash crotch, on the left). I liked the width of it, but it seems visually “heavy.” And I got a bit sloppy with the sizing, and this one is just a bit too big.

By the time I got to number three (American elm, center), I was getting more comfortable with the whole process, and I added a refinement: a sizing gauge. This was just a wood disk that I turned to be 69 millimeters diameter. Then when I was shaving down the inside of the bracelet, I was shooting for a hole that my gauge disk just barely fit into. So on that one, I feel like I got the size, the width, and the overall profile about where I like it. More importantly, I got it where my wife likes it.

American Elm bowl with crotch figure

American Elms are lovely trees that have been hit hard in recent decades by Dutch Elm disease, a fungal infection that has killed millions of trees in the United States. Our family farm had dozens of them in the woodlot and surrounding the yard, and one by one, they also succumbed. This bowl is from one of the last to go.

The crotch figure in this one looks to me as if the grain has been melted and sagged.

6 5/8″ diameter, 1 3/8″ high. Danish oil finish.

The worms crawl in…

…and now you’re likely singing that song in your head: “The worms crawl out…”

Seems fitting for this bowl.

There’s a lot going on with this one. It’s maple–I’m afraid I’m not sure what specific type, but likely either Sugar Maple or Silver Maple, as both are native to North Dakota. This tree was standing dead in the woodlot on my family’s farm, and I cut it down this fall for firewood. However, there was a likely looking crotch about 20 feet up, so I sliced it open to see what it had going on.

Bingo! Not just some nice crotch figuring, but also plenty of spalting, and some beetle larvae tunnels. There’s an old saying among woodturners: “If you can drink soup from it, it’s a bowl. If you can’t it’s art.”

9″ diameter, 2 1/2″ high. Danish oil finish.

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.)