IntroductionI’ve been turning large chunks of un-seasoned firewood since I started turning bowls over a year and a half ago. Much of the wood is turned without regard to it’s moisture content…I don’t have time to wait thru ...
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26 posts in 1008 days
Location: Torrance, CA
Could not get me out of neighborhood trees as a child in Southern California. Lived in the bush on Vancouver Island for over two years before building a 2-story log cabin in the West Kootenay mountain range. No training in woodworking. Cut and peeled my own logs and pulled them up the mountain with a horse and leather rigging. Notched the logs with ca hainsaw and axe. After 7 years in the forest I came down to California to learn deep saturation diving and underwater testing of welds. 30 years as a testing specialist on seismic construction for hi-rise steel and concrete structures...I needed a new hobby.
I love everything about wood...the smell, the feel, the colors, the texture. Purchased a Nova DVR and started turning at the beginning of 2011 without any training but watched a ton of videos on youtube and read several great books.
I see the trends are thin bowls and articulately crafted polished works. Being a basic woodsman I decided to work firewood, emphasizing the irregularities that make trees so interesing to me.
Being that I do not conform to the norm stylistically or in my turning methods I am most interested to hear what other turners think.
I use large firewood rounds (18" and up). I do not season the wood. Some of the wood has been outdoors for a few months and some for a few weeks by the time I get my hands on it.
I cut a blank using a chainsaw and mount a faceplate to what will become two inches of waste at the bottom of the bowl. The exterior is shaped, the interior hollowed and the bowl sanded to 400/600 grit without ever removing the blank from the lathe. I fill any cracks with CA glue and sawdust and resand as needed. I use a parting tool and finally a handsaw to cut the bottom of the bowl away from the waste and then rag the bowl with walnut oil. After letting the bowl set a couple days I seal any new cracks, sand the raised grain or rim irregularities and rag the bowl with either walnut oil or thinned tung oil.
The bowl sits in a cool room in my house on top of paper bags. Some of the bowls warp, some develop additional cracks and some remain as originally cut. Over the next couple months I watch the bowls for any abnoramalities that might require attention.
To my amazement, many of the bowls have started selling both on-line, at small art shows and have drawn solid bids at charity auctions. The attraction seems to be to rustic appeal as evidenced by demand for warped and cracked bowls cut from woods with interesting grain patterns. The style of the cut is, of course, important as is the finish but many of these bowls seem stable and ready to be shown within 5 weeks of turning the bowl, depending on the type of wood.
I study each bowl and wood species daily to observe its behavior during the drying period. Some woods such as Dutch Elm require monitoring for cracks over a two or three month period while others may stabilize within a couple weeks.
Sometimes I look at other turners work, pieces of perfection and think I should get on board and follow the rules. All I can do is share my experience and show some photos of what I'm doing and let you be the judge, although, ultimately, the person purchasing one of my bowls is the final vote of approval that I really need...isn't it? I don't know, just loving working with a bowl gouge and letting my imagination run wild.
-- RobertJ, Southern California
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