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.


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.


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


Bear paw (Chokecherry root)

Last summer, a severe wind storm hit the Pick City, ND region, where my brother-in-law’s family has a lake cabin, and a small chokecherry tree (prunus virginiana) on their property snapped off. My BIL and nephew yanked the root out with a pickup, and before they could throw it in the firepit, I said “I can make something from that.” And I did.
Almost everyone who’s seen it so far has said it looks like a bear paw.

I added some pyrography on the edge. 8″, Danish oil finish.

Natural edge flowering crab bowl finished

This spring, during what the city calls “Spring Clean Up Week,” but everyone else calls “dump week,” I rescued a couple of logs from a flowering crab tree from the curbside. The tree had just been cut down, so the wood was extremely wet. Paul Hedman (president of the Minn-Dak Woodturners Association) told me that flowering crab tends to check badly as it dries, rendering a log unsuitable for turning, and that the checking begins almost immediately after it is cut.

So I cut the logs into slabs and as quickly as I could, turned them into bowls. Most of the scraps left over went into the woodpile, to be burned in our patio fire pit. (We learned the hard way that one should not burn flowering crab in a woodstove; that’s a long and ugly story.) However, I had one smaller, thinner piece left that I thought might make a nice bowl, so I had set that aside and promptly forgot about it.

When I found it again, to my surprise, there was no checking visible, so I sawed it into a blank, chucked it up, and voila! Bowl #30, 6 1/4 inches long, 5 1/4 inches wide, 1 3/4 inches high.

Bowl #30 (7) - Copy

That “claw” over on the right side is where a branch was growing out of the trunk. That got knocked out in the turning process.

Here’s a shot showing the inside of the bowl.

Bowl #30 (9) - Copy

 This bowl is available via my Etsy shop.

Two sales!

When I started making bowls and sharing pictures of them on Facebook, several friends and family members asked me if I was going to start selling them. The thought had occurred to me, but it took the questions and requests to push me into actually doing it.

Bowl #17 (4)

My first sale was this natural edge flowering crab bowl, to a former co-worker. This bowl–#17, was my third natural edge bowl. The wood was rescued from the curbside in our neighborhood during the annual spring cleanup week. It was freshly cut, so the wood was very wet. After turning and sanding, I dried it by microwaving it. (People are surprised that it works, but the process is straightforward: Weigh the bowl to establish a starting weight, then microwave for 45-60 seconds. This heats the water all the way through the wood, and helps force the water out of the interior. Allow the bowl to cool for about an hour, then weigh it again–it should be lighter. Then reheat. Keep repeating the cycle until the weights stop changing. This one took several cycles to dry.)

I was pleased with the color and grain on this, and have been keeping my eyes open for more flowering crab. Thank you to Shyla and Josh for being my first sale!

Bowl #21 (6)

My second sale–and my first from my Etsy store–was this small juniper natural-edge bowl (#21). Again, the wood was rescued from the curbside in the neighborhood. Juniper is a surprisingly light wood, so I thought I should make this bowl thin. The shape of the outside of this piece gives it a winged appearance. I shipped this one yesterday, and I hope that Michol enjoys it!

Now I need to make more bowls! Too many pieces of wood, not enough time!