This past Wednesday, all in the span of an hour lunch break, I ran home, cut a chunk off the end of one of the Jacaranda logs from my recent haul, resealed the main log with Anchorseal and washed out the brush. Sliced the chunk in half through the pith, and turned one into a thin-walled, simple bowl, took a quick shower, and brought the resultant piece back to show off at work. Amazing what can happen in one hour! The turning itself took less than 15 minutes! I’m getting faster, if not better :)
Here’s the log I used, and what it looks like inside after a fresh cut. It is extremely wet:
I think it’s about a 6” diameter branch. Here’s how it looked freshly split on the band saw:
And less than 15 minutes later:
This was the wettest green wood I’ve yet turned, and rivulets of water were running down my face shield. I could watch the wood change color as I turned, as water was being forced from the inside to the out along the grain. When I stopped the lathe, there were water stains on each side where it was soaked on the outer layer, but much drier inside. When done, I let it spin on high speed for a bit, just to help force a bit more water out. Tonight, Sunday, 4 days later, it’s pretty dry. I’m sure it’s not 6%MC, but it feels like a regular, dry bowl to the touch.
At work on Wednesday, after turning it only a few hours earlier, the piths cracked on each side just a bit – hairline cracks – but by nightfall, the bowl had warped a bit to the tune of about 3/16” difference across perpendicular diameters tightly pressing the checks back together. This bumped the piths up a bit.
There are some light tool marks, but I will be chucking it back in the lathe now that it’s mostly dry, and sanding those away. Also, note that the rim is a little bit wider on one side. I think this is due to the wood’s softness. Tightening the Oneway Talon chuck very hard probably bent the bowl just slightly to the side. In the future, I will probably give a pass to the outside of the bowl after flipping around to the chuck, and before hollowing, just to ensure concentricity between outside and inside.
The wood is a little bit ‘fuzzy’ in nature, and you can see some of the fuzzy tearout on the bottom of the bowl here. This was caused by the side of the parting tool scraping against it as I turned the tenon:
The end grain pulls in a bit along the grain lines, leaving recessed outlines of the grain. You can just make out the check that pushed back together at the pith:
I have a bit of a cambial bark inclusion on one end:
The pith sections pushed up as the bowl warped in a bit around it. You can see it in the front and back rims here:
The wood turns incredibly easily, and I could get a sense at least of why it’s touted as such a good carving wood. It looks a little like the Ficus I’ve been playing with lately, but dries much more white. It’s about as pale as maple, and very lightweight, possibly lighter than basswood, but still sturdy. It smells remarkably like potatoes. Peel a bunch of potatoes and smell the wet pile of skins. That mix of starchy potato and dirt smell is basically exactly it. Rather enjoyable.
When I first began turning, while it was still square on one side, I would get catches of my large roughing gouge tool, but instead of the lathe reacting, huge chips of the wood would go flying over my shoulder. It almost seems like dry-rotten wood, except that it still has good, useful, vibrant strength to it, too. It’s an interesting middle ground. I’m getting pretty eager to try my hand at carving something in it. Naturally, if I do, I will take and post pictures of the effort.
Too, I will post the finished product, whenever I get around to finishing and sealing this thing up.
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator