Spalted Alaskan Birch

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Project by Stonekettle posted 1428 days ago 1855 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


1346 posts in 2297 days

#1 posted 1428 days ago

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


15623 posts in 2802 days

#2 posted 1428 days ago

That’s gorgeous!

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

View BillyJ's profile


622 posts in 1787 days

#3 posted 1428 days ago

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


166 posts in 1478 days

#4 posted 1428 days ago

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

-- Dave, Fargo ND "Bad spellers of the world, UNTIE!!"

View wiswood2's profile


1088 posts in 2280 days

#5 posted 1428 days ago

Very very nice.

-- Chuck, wiswood2

View Maveric777's profile


2687 posts in 1661 days

#6 posted 1428 days ago

Yea, what Charlie said… lol

Good stuff Jim!

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View Bearpie's profile


2583 posts in 1602 days

#7 posted 1428 days ago

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


116 posts in 1488 days

#8 posted 1428 days ago


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


14821 posts in 1773 days

#9 posted 1428 days ago

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


116 posts in 1488 days

#10 posted 1428 days ago

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


391 posts in 1563 days

#11 posted 1428 days ago

That is one fantastic turning. Love all the details.

-- Lynn "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


79 posts in 1437 days

#12 posted 1428 days ago

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


1346 posts in 2297 days

#13 posted 1428 days ago

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 2111 days

#14 posted 1428 days ago

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


3145 posts in 2407 days

#15 posted 1428 days ago

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

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