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The Story of Curly African Sumac

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Project by StevenAntonucci posted 1925 days ago 1648 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Neither picture really does this piece justice, as the wood, form and finish all beg to be inspected to truly appreciate it.

Every once in a while, it all comes together at the lathe. Your shape is expressive and the wood perfectly suited for it. I wanted to turn another one of these pots, since I had stumbled on this form many years ago. I have a habit of undercutting the rim larger than the diameter of the vessel, and thusly a fine collection of bowls. When you have a combination of undercutting and form, it’s much more difficult to get it just so… even moreso than the flat river rock vessels I occassionallly make.

The other half of this piece of wood didn’t make it. I blew it, so I didn’t want to ruin the whole log. I also struggled with producing mediocrity. “It’s only wood” is usually true, but it only goes so far. Clearly, this is a piece of wood deserving of a less callous attitude. Faced with this decision, I decided on 1/8” to 3/16” walls through a 1/2” hole. Smalller hole would be too risky (how I lost the first one) and 1/16” would also be pushing my skills (yeah, the first one was 3/8”+/- and 1/16”...and one blink of an eye later it was 0/16”)

Hollowing a vessel this size (4×6” give or take) is only about an hour’s work from between centers to hand sanding. There just isn’t that much wood to remove, so it doesn’t take very long getting it done. However, for one solid hour, you need to be in the moment. Nothing else can matter but you and the wood and the sound of the lathe and the tool cutting. No “design changes” from a catch. No dismounts. Lots of measument and compressors puffs to blow out chips. It’s like a dance, and you have to make every move and step to get perfect marks.

On to finishing. If your cuts are clean, start at 180 grit or better. I usually cut the outer surfaces with a skew to avoid tearout, and I sand back to 180 to get a level and consistent surface. Quick spin at 220 and 320 and 400, and we come off the lathe. Inspect the surface for any defects, and correct by hand sanding. Once I am off the lathe, I never go back on. Three coats of oil with a day or more in between, and sanded with 400 Grit before buffing with white diamond and a coating of Carnuba wax. Signed with a heat brand and calligraphy pen.

I am done, but this piece isn’t complete yet. African Sumac is similar to cherry in that it reacts to UV light. Over time, this piece will turn a dramatically different color- red!- with exposure to sunlight. It sits in my sunroom waiting to get to it’s environmental equilibrium

Thanks for reading.

(Epilogue: I really need to make a photo setup…)

-- Steven





11 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112016 posts in 2210 days


#1 posted 1925 days ago

Looks wonderful and a unique wood

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

936 posts in 2027 days


#2 posted 1925 days ago

A nice vessel, great work!

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Woodhacker's profile

Woodhacker

1139 posts in 2356 days


#3 posted 1925 days ago

Steven, beautiful job…and a great write up too.

Thanks for posting.

-- Martin, Kansas

View Christopher's profile

Christopher

573 posts in 2553 days


#4 posted 1925 days ago

Beautiful write up for a beautiful piece.

View trifern's profile

trifern

8132 posts in 2400 days


#5 posted 1925 days ago

Nice turning Steven. Your write up has my juices flowing, so back to the lathe I go. Thanks for sharing.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View Dusty56's profile

Dusty56

11644 posts in 2321 days


#6 posted 1925 days ago

If only the pix were as good as the story…Nice details in the story…I wish my old , tired eyes could behold the beauty of your turning.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View mtnwild's profile

mtnwild

3474 posts in 2160 days


#7 posted 1925 days ago

Beautiful the way you brought out the beautiful wood.

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View bigwoodturner's profile

bigwoodturner

231 posts in 1979 days


#8 posted 1925 days ago

I really like the color and ripple in the summac. Great use of the piece of wood. I just got the equivelant of 6 cords of birch that I hope will have the ripples this summac has, we will see.

-- Dale

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

12926 posts in 2616 days


#9 posted 1925 days ago

very nice work … great looking wood

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View jockmike2's profile

jockmike2

10635 posts in 2880 days


#10 posted 1925 days ago

Nice turning and great story.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Maxx's profile

Maxx

136 posts in 1939 days


#11 posted 1924 days ago

Y’know…the last thing I need is a new addiction – but with your description and the finished product…I’m not sure how much longer I can go without shopping for a lathe.

-- Where did all this sawdust come from?

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