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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
I feel like I’m starting get the knack of these natural edge bowls. This one went much faster than my first ones.
7 1/2 inches long, 4 3/4 inches wide, 2 3/4 inches tall. Available from my Etsy store.
I stuck with the same basic form for bowl #3. The wood this time was a piece of green ash that I rescued from our woodpile. The tree was a dead green ash tree (killed by a grass fire several years ago) in the woodlot at the family farm where I grew up in eastern North Dakota.
Here it is, unfinished, sanded to 320 grit.
And here it is after several applications of mineral oil, a coat of carnauba/beeswax, and a good buffing.
I’m not sure why it has such a deep brown color–ash sapwood is usually pale, and the heartwood is more of a red-brown.
I started getting a bit more adventerous, so bowl #4 is a bit larger. This is green ash again; this time from a large tree that was blown in a wind storm in 2011. There’s a bit of spalting in this piece, which you can see in this “in progress” picture.
Here’s the final product, unfinished, sanded to 320 grit.
I gave this one to my oldest daughter before I took a picture of it with the mineral oil and paste wax finish.