More trash pick… I mean, recycling this past Thursday night. Someone in the neighborhood threw out what in the dark after work seemed like it might be plastic, but back in my garage turned out to be something with the texture, and a bit of the overall look of a plum, with smooth brown skin that seemed to have a purplish cast to it.
I think it’s either a whole small tree, or the top of a very tall larger tree, as it doesn’t seem to branch in the way a branch would. It’s too radially uniform around the center line. It was a piece roughly cut at the base, and about 7’-8’ tall.
The tip and every little twig terminated in a little fuzzy bud, reminiscent [mildly] of a pussy willow, and there were less mature buds and leaf scars regularly spaced along each twig:
I noticed in the dirty, rough-cut at the base a hole with a membranous covering, like hard, milky-white, translucent plastic. When I cut the limb into pieces for use in my mini lathe, or side projects (got a few ideas), I found the hole ran through the entire thing, even the thin branches:
I had cut off the end to clean it up, and found that the hole through the middle with its membrane caps let some light through. It was translucent. I tried to learn a bit more by peeling off the bark, and cutting through the cylindrical hole running up the middle. What I found were chambers running through the entire thing, like very short bamboo segments:
Some cuts revealed some branch lines radiating from the center out. Note that these limbs are really wet inside:
I got 16 little twigs of varying widths and lengths. I’d like to make a little natural birdcage out of them, and at around 2” spacing, I can do about a 10” diameter cage, and I have some ideas I think will be pretty cool for how to fasten them together into a ring, and how to create the door. The top remains TBD :)
And of course, my immediate question was: “Can I turn any of this on the lathe?” Obviously, the central hole made for a great on-centers setup, if it also meant I couldn’t turn too thin. I got a chance with this to try out my new Sorby Spindlemaster, on sale recently at Rockler for 20% off. I only buy those pricey things on sale.
It smelled just like carving a pumpkin, and turned very easily. It’s pretty firm, though wet. The colors were amazing. It has a [I think it’s the right term] cambium layer that’s fluorescent green, like antifreeze, some mustard-colored areas under each branch root, and pale, maple-colored interior, with an ultra-straight grain. I was half expecting it to shred like a weed, but it held up beautifully under the turning tool. I was impressed:
I made a nice little mess of wet shavings, and got some unfortunately blurry pics of the debarked piece. My auto-focus was aiming for the lathe table (machining mill part), I guess:
It almost seems like it would work for some pen turning, except it definitely wouldn’t be a high quality hardwood pen :)
Parting shot of the mess:
Anyone have any idea what tree this is from? A couple more shots and descriptions in the Flickr set.
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator