Manzanita Plank Turning #1 - Exeperimenting

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Project by Eric M. Saperstein posted 12-29-2013 01:06 AM 2285 views 3 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a manzanita plank experimental turning … its a bowl, sorta I guess? It’s not really round, but its got a bowl shape in the middle. It’s about a 12/4 piece of manzanita trunk, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do with it when I bought it. This seemed appropriate, first hollowing it out then looking at it as a rather boring object, just a plank with a hollow section.

This felt like I was attempting to stick a finger in an airplane prop! The whole concept was rather disturbing. Somehow, I needed to get past that fear of turning things that are not fully there. Everything doesn’t have to be a completely round object in order to spin it. Just keep your RPM’s up and your touch VERY light. That, at least, is the theory … cause otherwise, the tool pops up, your piece slams to a stop, belts squeal, and you yank back fast HOPING to avoid being smacked with the tool or getting your finger sucked in between the piece and the rest. (ugh) ... This was setup with a heavy 6” cast iron faceplate and it probably weights 10-12lbs itself. A lot of mass spinning there, it was not going to stop without a good amount of resistance.

I still have a distinctive hesitation when turning things like this, I have a ways to get past that feeling that I’m gonna loose an arm. It feels like the whole time I’m doing this I am trying to counter the recoil of a gun. That tense feeling that makes you mess up a shot when you anticipate it. Definitely need to relax.

Anyway I avoided getting smacked in the face with a tool today, but … there’s always tomorrow for that! I stopped to drop off the red mallee bowl as a present for a friend who owns a local vineyard, sat down, and had a nice big glass of Barbara when this was done. A well deserved drink I think!

Not sure what this piece is worth, I think I’m gonna keep it around at least for a while just to prove to myself I can do this. My next steps will be to try it with some of these weird oblongish elongated burls and weird sections of tree.

Still building the finish up a bit, natural just Waterlox. I’ve been taking the photos before they get too glossy to avoid glare. I think this one is going to get a pretty high polish in the bowl section then a satin around it on the flat (which does have a bit of shape too it) then I will high polish the ends and edges. We’ll see …

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

15 comments so far

View MactheKnife's profile


81 posts in 2017 days

#1 posted 12-29-2013 01:54 AM

This is really cool and a brave turning job too!

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2688 days

#2 posted 12-29-2013 02:13 AM

Nerve racking indeed! Very nice though.

-- I never finish anyth

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2653 days

#3 posted 12-29-2013 05:34 AM

Some church would love to use it as a baptismal bowl.

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View Jim Sellers's profile

Jim Sellers

445 posts in 2484 days

#4 posted 12-29-2013 06:03 AM

Very unique and interesting project Eric. Got a little thrill seeking element there. I respect that.

-- J.C.Sellers, Norcross, Ga. Just cut it right the first time. The best carpenters make the fewest chips.

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 1973 days

#5 posted 12-29-2013 07:41 AM

Wow an experiment that is 100% fantastic. great looking experiment. thanks for sharing.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View jim65's profile


1004 posts in 2082 days

#6 posted 12-29-2013 09:02 AM

Nice work! I am sure a lot of fun turning that one.

-- Jim, Marostica Italy

View hunter71's profile


3255 posts in 3336 days

#7 posted 12-29-2013 11:15 AM

Quite different, but appealing to my eye.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View clarkey's profile


468 posts in 3205 days

#8 posted 12-29-2013 11:48 AM

The wood is beautiful, great job.

View Vince's profile


1153 posts in 3578 days

#9 posted 12-29-2013 01:45 PM

Very nice, Stuart Batty does work like yours…you would make him proud.

-- Vince

View Roger's profile


20949 posts in 2953 days

#10 posted 12-29-2013 01:47 PM

Wow! That Powermatic lathe seems to produce some nice bowls…........well, the operator does. Super nice, as always

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile (online now)


1251 posts in 1862 days

#11 posted 12-29-2013 02:41 PM

For things that are not round try using a metal lathe. Much sturdier and no danger of tools catcing the wood. Even using mechaincal tool adwance works fine (if the lathe has one).

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View Hugh's profile


65 posts in 3283 days

#12 posted 12-29-2013 03:32 PM

I love that wood. Great job.

-- Magnolia, Texas

View phijo's profile


21 posts in 1774 days

#13 posted 12-29-2013 04:08 PM

That looks amazing. I cant bring myself to turn stuff like that yet.

View Avg_Joe's profile


66 posts in 1889 days

#14 posted 12-29-2013 07:03 PM

That’s really awesome!!! Love the color!

View Eric M. Saperstein's profile

Eric M. Saperstein

766 posts in 3397 days

#15 posted 12-29-2013 11:01 PM

I definitely needed a little Xanex booster shot after this one, which in the scheme of what I have seen some of the master’s do isn’t that crazy. I’m always amazed by broken turnings and super thin hollow forms. I’ll have to try it again, it made a huge difference in the piece. Just the original bored out bowl shape was blah, pointless it just made nothing of the piece. Somehow a simple lip and lowering the surrounding surface turned it interesting.

The new lathe is playing a major part in this, the Delta wouldn’t have been stable with this piece. I’d have been trying to lean into it and dampen the machine while trying not to stop the prop.

We’ll see what is next, sourcing some more manzanita out of some fire brake projects in California. Hoping it includes some additional trunk sections. I’d like some actual lumber and additional slabs. Scrub tree, so it’s not often you get a long wide straight piece.

I do plan to get some additional tool rest mechanisms to setup mounted tools and grinders at some point. For now, we’re going to have to deal as we just dropped enough cash to clear the new machine kitty.

NOW should my kickstarter campaign fund … ... then we would definitely continue our upgrade program!

Anyway – I managed to live through this so the rest of you can. I’m not exactly the poster child for coordination! So if I can pull this off, the rest of you can as well. Give it a shot, just GO SLOW!!

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

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