Spalted maple urn

I believe that God is the artist, and that I have been granted the amazing privilege of unveiling his work. This amazing coloring that I found inside a maple log illustrates that belief perfectly.

This will be the cremation urn for a friend, so there will be a lid for this (probably walnut).

9 inches tall, 7 inches diameter. Friction polish finish.

Silver maple bowls

Silver maple bowls

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.

Bowl #166 (8)

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.

Bowl #167 (11)

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.

Bowl #167 (7)

Go Bison!

My workplace holds an annual basket raffle to raise funds for the United Way, and my boss and I are collaborating on a “Game Day” basket. Our “basket” is actually a cooler, filled with a bunch of snacks, some swag from North Dakota State University–Go Bison!–and this chip bowl decorated in Bison green and gold.

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It’s silver maple, with some eye-catching chatoyancy and crotch figuring on the interior.

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The stripes were added with marker and the finish is a durable carnauba/beeswax blend. 10 1/2″ diameter, 1 7/8″ high.

Work in progress: Large green ash bowl

I rescued a few large green ash logs off the curb last week, and while most of it is destined for our firewood pile (green ash is dandy firewood), I sawed a few bowl blanks from one of the larger pieces.

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Update: Here’s the outside cleaned up, sanded to 400 grit, and with an application of walnut oil finish. (I’m planning to add a pyrography texture between those dark lines.)

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Update 2: I didn’t expect to see that much curl figure in this.

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Dough bowl

I modeled this silver maple bowl after the stoneware bowl my mother always used for making bread dough. Mom’s is a bit larger than this, but I think I came pretty close to the basic proportions (although I’m operating purely from memory).

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This was twice turned, and after the rough bowl dried, it was the most lopsided one I’ve done yet.

8 3/4″ diameter by 3″ high. Walnut oil finish.

Silver maple shimmer

Another silver maple bowl that has a beautiful chatoyance. It’s not the ripple that you see in curly maple, but it’s striking. I’m doing a little experiment with this one: it’s finished with walnut oil, which takes a little longer to cure but is completely food-safe. (Note: pretty much every finish is “food safe” once it’s fully cured, but walnut oil starts out food safe, since it is food. But it also has the advantage of being able to cure to a solid finish without going rancid.)

UPDATE: This bowl is available on Etsy.

10 1/8″ diameter, 2 1/4″ high.

Bowl 113 (6)

Interior shot of that figure.

Bowl 113 (1)

Twice-turned bowls

I’ve been working with quite a bit of green wood recently, which means that I have to turn bowls twice: once to rough out the basic size and shape, and then after a period of controlled drying, once more to correct for the warping that inevitably occurs when wood dries. Here’s a bunch that I finished over the weekend:

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Back row, left to right: Birch – 7 3/4″ x 2 3/4″, Silver Maple – 9″ x 2 1/2″
Middle row, left to right: Ornamental Pear – 8 3/8″ x 2 1/2″, Ornamental Pear – 8 3/4″ x 2 1/2″
Front: Birch – 7 1/8″ x 1 3/4″

Roughing it

I’ve been working with some silver maple that a friend gave me–they had to cut down a large tree in their daughter’s yard, and offered me some of the larger branches. It’s still quite wet since it was just cut, and so if I turn things to their final size, the pieces will warp as the wood dries.

So I’ve been turning the pieces to close to the final size and shape I want.

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Moist, green wood like this turns nicely, and the ribbons of shavings that come flying off the end of a good sharp gouge makes this process a lot of fun. I finished four bowls this morning, and put them into paper grocery bags to help slow down the drying process. (If wood dries too fast, you’re more likely to get cracks.) It will probably take a couple of months until these are ready to finish.

This, my friends, is curl

A friend gave me a couple of maple logs, and I’ve been roughing out bowls from it. I uncovered this ripple–which is called curl–in the bowl I was working on this morning.

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Keep in mind that this is rough turned, and still rather wet. I have to let it dry (slowly, to prevent checking), then finish turning it, sand it (probably to 1000 grit, because figure like this deserves that), and apply a finish..

And so it goes…

I had a silver maple bowl roughed out, cut from the same chunk of wood as one I wrote about a few weeks ago. I was a little concerned, though, because this one had a large bark inclusion in the bottom.

Well, I put it back on the lathe this evening, and started smoothing up the outside. It hadn’t warped that badly as it dried, and the wood was cutting nicely. Part of the bark came through to the outside, leaving a void that, although a bit tricky to work around, was a nice element in the look of the bowl.

On to the inside. That was a bit rougher. The bark inclusion was causing a lot of clatter as the gouge cut easily through that and then hit the much harder wood. But I was making good progress, and nearly had it ready to sand, when BANG!

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The tenon on the bottom (which is how I grip the bowl in the chuck) snapped off. There was enough of the bark going down into the tenon, which weakened it too much.

I guess this one is bound for the firepit.