This past Sunday I decided to saw a Y-shaped Ficus log in half and get some bowl blanks out of it. I couldn’t fit the 14” section under my band saw’s 12” vertical clearance, so I just cut the first half, up to the Y split. Then I spent about 20-30 minutes sawing through the Y with my 24” carpenter saw. Good workout!
I could fit a 10-7/8” circle on each log in the Y area, which I wanted to try turning for the twists in grain and color.
I had to give up for the night, and I’m tired of everything I look at splitting and checking, so I’m just coating every cut face from now on. I have a bunch of planks that had no checks, and which I sealed on the ends, and they split completely in half, right down their middles. What a pain.
10-7/8” diameter circle:
I sawed the ends off the log, and the corners, to start the circular shape, then screwed it to a board so I could prop it against my recently-made, and taller baltic birch fence. I didn’t want the log spinning on me. The board would ride on its edge on the table and up against the fence. Now I had a flat on both sides.
Here’s the back of the temp plywood rig. The deck screws go into the center of the side that will be the inside of the bowl, so they’ll be turned away eventually. This plywood rides up against the fence, and the bowl blank on the other side has its widest edge sitting flush with the table top:
With the flat, I was able to saw it into a decent circle. Here it is with the other pieces I got out of the same log:
And a big bowl blank emerges:
And until I can turn it, I’ve sealed it entirely:
Meanwhile… I wanted to see what I could do with this little chunk:
This wasn’t the shape I was going for, because I’m still learning how to control my tools. This just sort of emerged after a few slips and fixes:
And AS EVER, some checks. Unbelievable. They’re just unavoidable for me. Actually, the end of the log was checked, and I think this piece came from down there. I don’t know if ficus is even stable enough to fill.
Another problem with ficus is what I believe to be mold. It’s a crappy wood for woodworking, but I do have a whole tree of it, and it is good scrap for learning how to resaw and turn things without ruining the good wood.
This is how I had it chucked, if you were wondering:
Had to stop for the night, so more sealing:
Yesterday I was able to turn a groove in the bottom so I could slip the jaws of my chuck into it and flip it around to turn the inside of the bowl. Here’s that groove:
This was the first time I was able to easily turn the inside of the bowl, through a combination of the right tools, the right angles and roll of those tools, and proper pressure, cut depth, etc. It felt good to see some improvement in my skills finally.
I turned it very thick so it will hold shape better over the next few months as it dries. Honestly, I’m not sure it’ll even hold up, but we’ll see. Once it’s dry, I’ll chuck it again and turn it to its final, thinner, deeper shape.
I’ve decided to pick up a free shelving unit whenever I can from craigslist (an online classifieds that has a popular branch here in LA) and put it in my office at work. I can bring my turnings in to sit on the shelves there, acting as decorations and conversation pieces all in one. Then as each dries, I can bring it home and finish turning it, and apply a final finish to it. At any rate, this bowl won’t be back in the spotlight for awhile. Wish it luck.
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator