This is from nearly a month ago. I’m behind on my adventures.
Chucking something properly in a lathe takes a little bit of thought and prep work. I only had about an hour after work, but was in the mood to learn a bit more. In this test, I simply wanted to see if I could make a thin, dish-like object in a small chunk of Indian Laurel (Ficus microcarpa). I had recently acquired a ton of it, so I just pinched it between centers and had at it.
The test dish I would turn was from a piece similar to this one, cut from the same slab:
The proper method on such green wood is typically to turn thicker than your target, let it dry a few months, then finish turning to final dimensions to turn away the warps. If you don’t, you end up with a warped bowl. That’s often desirable in more artistic, ‘natural’ turnings, but I didn’t care either way as it was just a test. I simply went for “as thin as I could make it” right away. Note that the spur driver dug in a bit as I turned it. It was in the soft outer bark.
Because I did everything between centers, I was left with a central support piece in the center of the dish. Again, I didn’t care. I wasn’t keeping this, and just wanted to work on turning a thin dish edge.
I did manage to get it pretty thin, though!
It’s also very uniform. That’s something I need to work on – getting the outside and inside faces to feel smooth, and contoured to follow each other smoothly, without bumps, and sudden, unintended changes in angle. This dish was smooth inside and out.
Here it is with the top and bottom planed smooth a bit with my cheap block plane:
You can still see the spur driver’s ‘shadow’ in the support piece. I was thinking I could put a votive on there, and maybe potpourri in the dish around it. Again, unintended – just a test piece, for the learnin’.
And while I’m sure the piece should dry out completely before applying a finish, I just couldn’t resist seeing how some dewaxed shellac rubbed into it would look. The answer? Like a cheap salad bowl :)
Something I do wonder, however, is whether or not turning a bit oversized, then rubbing in some BLO would help to slow the drying, and protect the wood from checks as the MC stabilizes. It would be prettier and less messy than Anchorseal. I have a bunch of this wood, so I can run some long-term tests, I suppose…
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator