Rookie Turning Question

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Forum topic by CharlieM1958 posted 05-01-2010 02:32 AM 1553 views 2 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4456 days

05-01-2010 02:32 AM

I ordered some 6” x 6” x 3” bowl blanks from a seller on eBay. The description says they were processed green and treated with Anchorseal. My question is when should I turn them?

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

14 replies so far

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4035 posts in 4301 days

#1 posted 05-01-2010 02:45 AM

David Marks on drying

and all about turning green wood

and then if you haven’t subscribed to our own studio turner/teacher there is a library of information from LJ Steve Russell starting here.

If you are only used to turning kiln dried or very dry air-dried blanks, you should try at least one green bowl. Long ribbons of shavings with a free shower. Perfect for spring in N’awlins.
Have fun Charlie. It’s a hoot.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View lew's profile


12500 posts in 3993 days

#2 posted 05-01-2010 03:05 AM


I have had some pretty good luck by shaping the bowl blank round. Then turning it- leaving the wall thickness about 1/10 the diameter of the bowl ( a 10” bowl would have 1” walls and bottom). Save the shavings and pack them into the bowl cavity. Wrap the bowl in several layers of newspaper. Put the wrapped bowl in large paper grocery bag and pack that with the remaining shavings. Set it aside for about a year. After that take it out and turn it to the desired thickness. Mine have dried pretty much crack/check free. If you do several of these at different times, you will have bowl blanks getting ready to finish just about all of the time.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4123 days

#3 posted 05-01-2010 04:28 AM

Glad to see you are turning and I will be glad to see the responses I’ve just started turning.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4456 days

#4 posted 05-01-2010 04:42 AM

Doug and Lew…. thanks for the points and pointers. :-) I’ve only been turning dry stuff up till now, so I’m anxious to try one of these.

John: I’ll keep you posted on my goofs so you can avoid them. :-)

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

View TJK's profile


14 posts in 3257 days

#5 posted 05-01-2010 05:49 AM

I really like turning green wood but don’t have the patience to turn a rough blank then wait for months for them to dry. I tend to turn to final shape, sand an oil them then let them warp (usually pretty slightly) to the final shape God intended them to have. After a few days or weeks I’ll put the final finish on. Depending on the wood, how the blanks are cut and the final shape you are turning, you can get some pretty interesting effects. Some tend to “ovalize” while others will warp pretty wildly. Some move very little. For really wet blanks, I’ve had good success drying them in a microwave after turning then letting them sit a few days before final sanding. This isn’t the way to go if you want to end up with perfectly round bowls but is fun to play with. Good luck.

-- Tim - He who knows best knows how little he knows.

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 3668 days

#6 posted 05-01-2010 09:27 AM

Green turning can be very rewarding. The long sliver coming off the tool and the spray of the moisture as it spins out of the wood. Just wonderful. ( didn’t know I needed wipers on my face shield until then) haha

I also agree with TJK. I don’t have much patience when it comes to letting the wood dry. I have used the microwave and also turned stuff and let it move. Both methods have been very rewarding with some interesting results.

Looking forward to your turns.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3312 days

#7 posted 05-01-2010 02:25 PM

I like to turn them green and let them move as they dry. You can end up with some interesting shapes.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4456 days

#8 posted 05-01-2010 03:23 PM

You guys have given me some great ideas.

Autumn, don’t worry…. I’m not giving up boxes anytime soon.

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

View Roper's profile


1389 posts in 3951 days

#9 posted 05-01-2010 03:32 PM

who says you have to give up boxes, just turn them on the lathe.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View RichardH's profile


295 posts in 3240 days

#10 posted 05-01-2010 03:47 PM

I follow fairly closely to Lew’s process. I really like turning green wood…after a while, it makes some of the kiln dried stuff feel downright lifeless.

I’ll admit that the first year I had the lathe, I didn’t have the patience to wait around and I tried lots of fast drying methods – microwave, soaking in denatured alcohol, etc. Each worked to some extent, but I didn’t find them “better” than just setting the piece aside in a paper bag for a year. I also turned quite a few bowls that warped or split post turning.

The trick for me was to start quite a few green pieces and then regularly add to the pile. Now, I seem to always have a bunch of wood in various stages of development and it is the best of both worlds! If I’m in a mood to finish a piece, I pull something out of the dried bin. Other times, I’m actually in a mood just to rough out lumber on the bandsaw or hog out some green wood on the lathe.

-- "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it...It's the hard that makes it great."

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4315 days

#11 posted 05-01-2010 03:48 PM

great info…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4484 days

#12 posted 05-01-2010 06:52 PM

wet. dry. turn the damn thing and let it fly. go get em chuck!

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

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3508 days

#13 posted 05-01-2010 07:14 PM

Depending on how much moisture content determines how I turn. You can basically turn right off the tree. The problem comes when the moisture begins to evaporate from the blank….certain woods are more prone to cracking (checks) then others. There are all manner of ideas out there on ways to avoid the checking. It still comes down to a bit of luck.

Green turning allows quicker removal of material…and less dust. The wood is denser and so quickly comes off from the blank….you also find that the wood face is smoother. I typically turn to 90% of the finished shape. then allow the wood to air dry slowly in a cool area….I do this by putting the blank into a paper bag full of the wood chips I just took off the blank. I constantly turn the blank around in the bag and rotate the chips. This has worked quite well for me….I will sometimes microwave the blank (if I can fit it in the microwave) for a few moments and then return to the bag….this is good for looser grain woods….

The folks above have given you some nice links for some of the folks on the more or less cutting edge of blank preparation and drying techniques….You will find what works for you by trying them and seeing the results. If you can find a local Kiln that works well also.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View alaskan79's profile


74 posts in 3591 days

#14 posted 05-01-2010 09:19 PM

I have been milling some logs and been taking the slabs and making some turning squares out of them
I don’t have a lathe but would like to get one. I just made some 5” square turning squares 16’ long today with my chainsaw. I had a big slab from a Black Walnut. plus got some smaller squares. Then I coated the ends with Anchorseal. I have a big bunch of pen blanks from a lot of different woods. I hate to see nice big pieces go to the fire pit.


-- alaskan79, Michigan

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