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Favorite Wood To Turn??

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Forum topic by TonyArru posted 04-20-2018 01:09 PM 701 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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TonyArru

32 posts in 2212 days


04-20-2018 01:09 PM

Topic tags/keywords: woodturning wood beech finding wood lathe turning fresh wood where to buy wood where to find wood favorite wood humor tip resource question

I don’t get the chance often to talk to many other turners about different woods and quality or cuts of wood, or where you even get your wood! So, I like to start conversations about this here!

So whats your favorite wood to turn? where do you get most of your wood? do you mill it yourself? do you buy it from Woodcraft or another retailer? what are some qualities that you like in your wood?

I recently came across what I thought was Beech…a tree went down a friends back yard, I brought my chainsaw, helped him clean it up…brought it home to turn/carve…and it was tough as nails! anyone have an experience with Beech? Maybe it was a different kind of wood that I brought home? unfortunately I do not have a picture here…


17 replies so far

View HoosierBoy87's profile

HoosierBoy87

63 posts in 345 days


#1 posted 04-20-2018 01:17 PM

No experience turning beech… I don’t think beech is very hard though- I’ve cut it for firewood, and it’s main use today is in crates and pallets. Just because a wood isn’t extremely hard though doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to turn. It could be prone to tearout like walnut. I’ll let some of the more experienced turners chime in though as I’m new to turning myself. My favorite wood to turn is actually Osage Orange. It’s the hardest wood in North America, but I love the look of it and have had good success turning it to very fine finishes due to its density.

-- Ross, Bloomington Indiana

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HoosierBoy87

63 posts in 345 days


#2 posted 04-20-2018 01:25 PM

Correction-I read more about it and Beech actually is considered very hard. Not like Osage, but still hard and very prone to tearout I read. Never though pallet wood was made to be very hard….but they supposedly use a lot for that. The tendency to tearout is probably gonna be your biggest issue turning it.

-- Ross, Bloomington Indiana

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TonyArru

32 posts in 2212 days


#3 posted 04-20-2018 02:55 PM

Awesome info! I had no idea they used it for pallets….if it is beech, it carved well (while green) with my hatchet, I was making a spoon…but when it came to knife work, or bowl gouging with my hook knife, it may as well have been concrete… I want to put some on my lathe, maybe it will be good for tool handles or something of that nature.

I have never come across any Osage Orange, Where do you usually get it from? bought or found?

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johnstoneb

2914 posts in 2171 days


#4 posted 04-20-2018 03:36 PM

Beech is moderately hard a little harder than walnut about same hardness as Hickory. Osage orange is extremely hard. Wood database states both beech and Osage machine well, Osage unlike many of the extremely hard woods does not seem to dull tools as rapidly as some of the hard woods.

http://www.wood-database.com/

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

1095 posts in 2034 days


#5 posted 04-20-2018 04:21 PM

My favorite wood to turn? Whatever is free and currently on my lathe. I mean, how can you not like anything when you get a day to turn?

In my opinion Beech isn’t that hard. It’s certainly no harder to turn than Maple, which is GREAT to turn, and both are nice consistent fine grained hard woods.

Seriously. If you’re having a hard time turning something, then you probably need to sharpen your tools. I, like most people, put it off until I HAVE to sharpen. If you don’t sharpen at least once during a single session, (or several times a day if you’re turning all day) then you’ve probably not sharpened enough. The edge comes off quick at any kind of RPM on lathe work.

If you don’t have a sharpening jig, then by all means, get one. And if you don’t know how to sharpen, get some help from somebody- even if you have to bribe them to come over…

-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

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Underdog

1095 posts in 2034 days


#6 posted 04-20-2018 04:34 PM

Some of the harder woods I’ve turned just fine with a sharpened gouge (in no particular order):
Bloodwood
Osage Orange
Black Locust
Hickory
Elm
Blackwood
Ebony
Ipe
Wenge

The real test of your sharpening skills though, are softwoods. If you can turn pine, fir, spruce, cypress, or cedar without tearout or bruising, then you know you have good technique and a sharp edge.

I just finished a beetle kill pine bowl, and absolutely loved it. I confess that I had to sand it a lot. HA!

I really like fruit woods- Cherry, Peach, Apple, Pear, Plum…

And I like Walnut, Mesquite, Mahogany…

Just finished up a really nice piece out of Alder…

Heck. I just like turning wood.

-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

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TonyArru

32 posts in 2212 days


#7 posted 04-20-2018 04:48 PM

I hear you! any time I have time to be in my wood shop is a great time, no matter if its going “well” or not! However, in the 1 1/2 years that I have been turning, I have already found some woods are just a pleasure to work with like Walnut, I really like the fragrance, the feel and the look….Maple and cherry leave such a nice surface off the tool, that I almost dont want to sand….but I do…

I have recently upgraded my sharpening techniques and equipment. I now have a slow speed grinder with aluminium Oxide wheels 100 and 120 grit…. and that has helped tremendously.

with the Beech…or what I think is Beech, I was haveing a hard time with my hook knife carving a spoon…but, its a 25$ hook Knife, so it may not be as sharp as I need it to be and I definitely have not mastered sharpening that thing yet!

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LesB

1726 posts in 3441 days


#8 posted 04-20-2018 04:55 PM

I scavenge most of my wood for turning. Once people find out you want their “fire” wood you will find plenty to choose from. It also never hurts to check with local arborists who remove a lot of trees and either chip them up or turn them into firewood. Look for distortions in the trunks and limbs and junctions where two large limbs come together to find the most interesting grain.
My preference is fruit wood, especially apple, apricot, and plum. Wood from the fruit producing cherry is not that great and pear is usually too plain but turns well. All nut wood from almond to walnut. Because I have a lot of Big Leaf Maple on my property I use a lot of that. I usually store it outside until it starts to spauld which adds a lot of color and character. Others I have used are acacia, golden chain, sycamore, and Oregon “myrtle” wood (actually California Bay Laurel), madrone, manzanita, and various oaks (not red oak…the grain is too open).
Soft wood like pine, redwood, alder and cedar rank low on my list unless you can get burl pieces. I have used beech for a variety of wood working projects but for some unexplained reason not for turning but I think it would turn well. It is just sort of plain looking and I usually seek character in the wood I turn.
I definitely avoid expensive sources like Woodcraft. Their’s is obviously carefully “selected pieces” but I can’t imagine messing up a $30 to $50 block of wood. I do buy some imported wood from hardwood dealers and use that. I also have the good fortune of having a step son who does custom log sawing and he donates to my cause on occasion.

-- Les B, Oregon

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TonyArru

32 posts in 2212 days


#9 posted 04-20-2018 05:18 PM

Every time I see an arborist or tree felling company on the side of the road doing work, I want to stop and ask them what they are going to do with the wood, and if I could snag a few select pieces….around here (new england, usa) people see wood on the side of the road and they grab it before the true owner even gets to see it, because its used for heating (lame use of nice wood) So, when ever you ask someone “hey, whats happening with that wood?” they just assume you are trying to get some free heat…
Ill have to start by saying “Its okay! Im a wood worker!” ” I only want a little of your wood!”

I feel the same about Woodcraft, They have beautiful stuff sometimes, but I always think, what if I mess this up…its too expensive…especially when I live in the middle of a hardwood forest, meaning the entire North East region of USA.

View JollyGreen67's profile

JollyGreen67

1669 posts in 2761 days


#10 posted 04-20-2018 05:29 PM

My icon is Beech. Not difficult to turn, but your tools must be sharp or it will shred. Osage Orange is hard, tools must be sharp. It can be finished to look like porcelain. The color will eventually change from orange to tan. It is used primarily for fence posts in the Midwest states.

And, to answer the question of what kind/type of wood to turn – any thing I can get on the lathe.

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected !

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

1095 posts in 2034 days


#11 posted 04-20-2018 05:34 PM

Oh. I’d almost forgotten… this piece is Beech. Turns and burns well.

-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

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JollyGreen67

1669 posts in 2761 days


#12 posted 04-20-2018 05:47 PM

Beautiful ! Gonna have to find me some more beech.

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected !

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1670 posts in 1987 days


#13 posted 04-20-2018 08:34 PM

Favorite wood – whatever I find for free. A tree service is a mile away, my main source, but any downed tree is a candidate. Cherry, oak, walnut, maple, sycamore, hickory, large enough fruit trees, doesnt matter. I guess my favorite is Interesting burls and crotch stuff with swirling grain, doent matter what species.

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

6711 posts in 2197 days


#14 posted 04-20-2018 09:49 PM

Free wood is always my favorite as well :) And living in the middle of a hardwood forest (mostly Oak), I’m up to my eyeballs in it. Although, one of my favorite local woods is Dogwood – amazingly strong but light weight and easy to turn. Unfortunately, it doesn’t grow very large, so it’s mostly relegated to spindle type stuff (makes great handles for chisels and such).

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

2025 posts in 2942 days


#15 posted 04-22-2018 04:01 AM

GREEN

Everything

I turn a lot of green and dry fruitwood, since I live in apple country. It’s hard to keep from splitting and cracking, so I don’t bother and just fill it with epoxy for nice end results.

If I have a lot of something, it gets copper plated.

I play with soft woods and have little trouble with tear out, except when I’m too lazy to turn around and touch up an edge.

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