Spalted Alaskan Birch

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Project by Stonekettle posted 08-12-2010 04:30 PM 2413 views 4 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve lurked around Lumberjocks for a couple years now, and joined the site officially a month or so back. After looking at all the fantastic projects here, I figured it was time to share.

This is a closed form, turned from a piece of spalted Alaskan birch burl. Initially dried in one my outside drying piles for several years, then wetted and seeded with black leaf mold wrapped in plastic and allowed to spalt for almost a year. Then redried in the shop.

The wood was very soft when cut into blanks. It was initially turned to rough as a spindle mount, and then compression chucked for hollowing and final shaping. The neck is a piece of South American rosewood that I thought made a good contrast to the birch. The school of salmon are my signature design and decorate most of my work (it’s an Alaskan thing, when I’m not turning, I’m usually fishing). The wood was then hardened with with a gel sanding sealer, and finish sanded to 1200grit. It’s finished in simple Tung Oil.

-- Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

21 comments so far

View Roper's profile


1367 posts in 2747 days

#1 posted 08-12-2010 04:43 PM

Very nice work Jim, that spalted birch looks great. i love the salmon on the side, nice detail. We might need to do a little wood trade if you got somemore of that around. Good job, keep them comin.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View CharlieM1958's profile


16090 posts in 3252 days

#2 posted 08-12-2010 05:09 PM

That’s gorgeous!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View BillyJ's profile


622 posts in 2237 days

#3 posted 08-12-2010 06:00 PM

Awesome turning. I like the addition of salmon – looks surreal.

-- I've never seen a tree that I wouldn't like to repurpose into a project. I love the smell of wood in the morning - it smells like victory.

View spclPatrolGroup's profile


232 posts in 1928 days

#4 posted 08-12-2010 06:25 PM

What are the odds of finding a burl with perfectly formed salmon shapes :) nice work.

-- Dave, from ND "The mind is an infinitely long workbench, and its cluttered with half-finished thoughts and ideas, sometimes we need to clear off the workbench and start again from step one."

View wiswood2's profile


1138 posts in 2730 days

#5 posted 08-12-2010 06:32 PM

Very very nice.

-- Chuck, wiswood2

View Maveric777's profile


2692 posts in 2111 days

#6 posted 08-12-2010 06:53 PM

Yea, what Charlie said… lol

Good stuff Jim!

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View Bearpie's profile


2597 posts in 2052 days

#7 posted 08-12-2010 06:55 PM

Wow, I love your work and the spalted vessel. If you have other works please post them, I would love to see them. You are right that the rosewood enhanced the piece greatly! Superb work!

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Stonekettle's profile


129 posts in 1938 days

#8 posted 08-12-2010 07:02 PM


I have many pictures, Bearpie, but never seem to have enough spare minutes to post them ;) I’ll try to get some more turning projects posted later this evening – Alaska time that’s probably some time in the early morning hours for people in the decent states.

Roper, I’m always up for a turning block trade. I should have some more spalted blanks ready at the end of the summer.

Thanks again for the comments everybody.

-- Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

View Ken90712's profile


15830 posts in 2223 days

#9 posted 08-12-2010 07:29 PM

Welcome and glad to see this Awesome turn.
Love it way to use the knot as a focal point!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Stonekettle's profile


129 posts in 1938 days

#10 posted 08-12-2010 07:38 PM

Thanks, Ken. I specifically look for pieces that contain bark intrusions and knots. I think it makes the finished piece far more interesting.

I work almost entirely in Alaskan birch – since that’s the only freely available hardwood in my area of the MatSu Valley in South Central Alaska. It’s a fun wood to work with, but often fairly boring grain and figure wise – unless you use splated, burled, or brown-hearted pieces. I also carve my pieces extensively.

-- Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

View levan's profile


457 posts in 2013 days

#11 posted 08-12-2010 10:39 PM

That is one fantastic turning. Love all the details.

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View Nick's profile


80 posts in 1887 days

#12 posted 08-12-2010 10:51 PM

great turning. very beautiful

-- Nick, AZ. Wood is a canvas for God's art work, it is our job as woodworkers to figur out the best way to display it.

View Roper's profile


1367 posts in 2747 days

#13 posted 08-13-2010 02:11 AM

hell ya i will do a trade with you, just let me know when you get some more.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 2561 days

#14 posted 08-13-2010 03:29 AM

Very cool, love the salmon! Thanks for sharing, great to see…....................

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

View blackcherry's profile


3229 posts in 2857 days

#15 posted 08-13-2010 04:28 AM

Nature and art at it finest…thanks for sharing and welcome to the club…BC

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