drying bowls in sawdust #1: Green maple bowls in sawdust

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Blog entry by Bluepine38 posted 08-28-2011 08:07 PM 8609 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
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Flying Oak brought up drying bowls in sawdust 586 days ago as recommended by Roy Underhill.

This is a picture of a green wood maple bowl I rough turned on my lathe, and here is a second one.!

front view

The first bowl was placed in the bottom half of a bowl of sawdust the the second in the top half. Both
bowls dried without and cracks and only slight warping. I checked the top one a few times during the
roughly two years, since I had placed them in the barrel previous to this post, and it dried with some
spalting, but was still rather solid. The first bowl that was placed in the bottom half of the barrel was
not disturbed until I took it out to turn it, and while the sawdust had allowed it to dry without cracking,
it had held enough moisture that the wood was rather soft and it was hard to turn to a smooth finish.
The result is that you can dry green turned bowls in sawdust, but you do have to check them every
month or so at first placing fresh sawdust around them to keep them from spalting too much or rotting
slightly. Do not know if this will help anyone, but i mentioned in the original blog that I would report my

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

1 comment so far

View Porchfish's profile


823 posts in 2528 days

#1 posted 08-29-2011 02:21 PM

Well, ya learn something every day! I have used damp sawdust to spalt blocks before, using just a plastic bag and shavings/dust from previously spalted material to “seed” the piece with , more or less…I’ve tested sawdust without “seeding” and with “seeding” and found that some woods will spalt if you look cross eyed at them, and others will take 6 months in the bag. (I use large black construction clean up sized bags) I have never had much success drying turning blocks or lumber with any method other than air-drying in my shop. I try to give a blank three months of aging on the shelf painted up and hearts cut out at the start. I don’t always wait that long though and turn a lot of “green” vessels. I haven’t had a problem with cracking during and/or post turning. Removing the heart removes most of the tendencies toward cracking. I found that I can eliminate major movement problems by NOT turning flat bottomed vessels. I carve out 3 feet from the ring left around the faceplate and ho & Belo , no balance problems…distortion of mouth not a problem. I have thrown a bowl or two away in my days, if I didn’t like the minor distortion effect. I find that vessels with walls between 3 and 5/16” will dry up very satisfactorily on their own during the turning & sanding process (save for Hickory and Persimmon). I am going to try changing out sawdust weekly on a blank or two and use my old moisture meter to experiment with times and # of shavings changes ! Thanks for the helpful post !
Your Florida friend, Don Schneider

-- The pig caught under the fence is always the one doing all the squealing !

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