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Forum topic by Raftermonkey posted 11-12-2010 10:05 PM 1079 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Raftermonkey's profile


560 posts in 2939 days

11-12-2010 10:05 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tip question trick lathe turning burl box elder maple walnut checking splitting cracking turners finish help

Hey everybody, I have been talked into trying to sell some of my bowls at our local “Green Market” next weekend and have a question for you. I have a fairly decent amount of “inventory” but I also have a couple of, “still wet”, blanks that I would love to turn and have at the market. My question is, can I turn some of these wet blanks and take them without the fear of them checking/splitting on me. They are burl blanks (box elder, maple, and walnut) and I will turn a shape that will be ok for warping and distorting. I know they will move a bit but as long as they don’t split I’m ok with it. I particularly want to take the Box Elder burl. Is there a certain thickness I could turn it to, and /or a finish I could put on it to prevent it from cracking? Off course, I would explain to potential buyers that this piece is still drying and IS going to warp a bit, but that is my intention. As always, all insight is greatly appreciated.



-- -Zeke- "I hate to rush off, but I gotta go see a man about a log"

5 replies so far

View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3782 days

#1 posted 11-12-2010 10:32 PM

From what I have read (and my limited experiences) when turning a wet blank, the wall thickness should be about 1/10 the diameter of the bowl (10” bowl; 1” walls). This is the point where I put mine back to dry for about a year. Of course, you won’t have that luxury.

Joe (Trifern) wrote that he makes the walls of his turnings really thin and that helps reduce the checking/cracking. I am not experienced enough to get to that point.

Maybe that fact that you are using burls, there won’t be much problem.

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

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2883 days

#2 posted 11-12-2010 11:06 PM

just keep them in plastic.
The burls do what burls do. :)
I’ll take a picture of one and post it for you to see.

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Roper's profile


1389 posts in 3739 days

#3 posted 11-12-2010 11:37 PM

Hey Zeke, I do alot of local shows with my turned stuff, and i have learned that you don’t want to take a piece to a show that is not ready. You don’t want to risk it cracking by rushing it. I always take what is finished and ready and leave the stuff that is only half done.Good luck with your show and don’t under price yourself.


-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3101 days

#4 posted 11-12-2010 11:52 PM

I’ll second what Roper said. You work hard to build up a reputation in your area for quality work. Then, one unhappy customer that didn’t understand that it will move and might crack can do a lot of damage to your reputation.

As you probably know, warped pieces are quite popular and sell well. However, I advise waiting for them to stabilize before trying to sell them.

Good luck.

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

View peteg's profile


4299 posts in 2849 days

#5 posted 11-13-2010 06:23 AM

Be careful with wet turning to get an even thickness right around your piece, ie, if you have the walls at a consistent 10% but let that expand considerably around the bottom it will more than likely split as the shrinkage will vary too much top to bottom (they will move at different rates and not in unison)
personally I agree with Rich, your name can be damaged with one “unknown” end result, you sell a piece but have no idea how it will behave.

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

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