22 days ago I posted about the decimation of my Hollywood Junipers (Juniperus chinensis). My plan was to go through and ‘limb’ them, or at this scale, to ‘twig’ them. Little by little, I’ve been going out there for 15 minutes or so at a time, sawing each little twig off with a stroke of the Irwin carpenter’s saw, then scrubbing the sap off my hands. What a giant pain, but I admit it was fun. I love the feel and sound of the saw, the smell of the junipers, getting dirty, and watching the pile of humorously narrow branches grow.
This was the pile left me after the tree trimmers had their field day:
The tarp was to keep out the gardeners. After about 15 minutes of sawing twigs the first day, I had this, and realized I had a long road ahead:
I got a lathe – care of mom on her visit (detailed in this blog post) – and had to try out a tiny piece of the juniper to see what was hidden inside. I made a randomly-shaped thing to test out angles and curves:
I really liked the marble-like translucence:
A few weeks later, and maybe 5 20-minute-average sessions, with a power-session of a couple hours on Memorial Day, I had a pretty sizable pile of detwigged limbs. The greenery in the background is composed of twigs trimmed off by the 15” Irwin carpenter saw and limbs that were already too tiny to be useful. I’m the idiot covered in sap.
Here are the two largest limbs – not much, but a nice size for smaller turnings. Maybe I’ll try a juniper vase or two. The translucence could be pretty neat. They have very red heartwood.
Lots of knotty, burly regions on this one. I’m eager to see what’s inside.
And the worst part: the sap. It takes about 5 hard hand-washings, using fingernails to power through the dirt-covered sap on my hands. There’s a line that forms just behind the saw’s teeth, in a line across their gullet tops, which has a thickness – maybe 1/32” sticking off the saw – and nothing can pick it off. I’ve tried fingernails, carpenter nails, wire bristle brushes… they all just slide right over it. It’s like hardened glass. The only thing that works is gum and pitch remover, sprayed on, left to sit for a few minutes, wiped away hard with a rag, and then I repeat that, agitating the puddles of remover for a few minutes each time, with about 8 repeats to get back to clean. It’s impressive stuff, this juniper resin. At least it smells great.
That’s all for this update. Now there’s a ton of work in cutting them up into little vase, bottle stopper, pen, and miscellaneous blanks. I probably don’t need to seal them. I cut up a branch a year ago, and none of the pieces have checked yet. It doesn’t seem to want to.
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator