How do I dry a bowl blank

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Forum topic by sprucegum posted 04-17-2013 10:40 PM 792 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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324 posts in 2200 days

04-17-2013 10:40 PM

I have never been really interested in wood turning. I use my lathe mostly for utilitarian projects like handles for tools and the like. That may change, today while working in the wood lot I came across what I think is a really cool cherry burl it is about a foot in diameter and was on a 3” diameter limb. I know some turners rough turn the bowl from green wood which makes sense to me given how easy green wood turns. So if I have the procedure rite the next step is to dry it slowly to prevent cracking. My questions are:
How close to the finished size do I make my blank?
What is the best simplest way to dry it?
Keep in mind that I am in absolutely no hurry for it to dry as I will be lucky to find time to rough out the blank and will not be able to finish it before next winter.

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

2 replies so far

View TerryDowning's profile


1103 posts in 2320 days

#1 posted 04-17-2013 11:12 PM

You basically have 2 options

Turn to finish dimensions and let it warp/crack and accept what happens (This can result in some very interesting results)

Rough turn
Leave as large a tenon as your chuck can handle. Mae sure you mark which numbered jaws went where on the tenon (index)
Wall thickness in general is 10% of diameter
10 inch bowl = 1 inch thick walls.
Place in a brown paper bag with the shavings that came from the turning
weight it
date it
close it up and set on a shelf.
Wait at least 2 months
weigh again and record weight and date on bag
weigh every 2 weeks after this recording the weight and date on the bag
when you get 2 or 3 weights approximately the same weight it has reached Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC) Once at EMC remove from bag and inspect.
It may still crack and will probably be warped.
repair the cracks if possible (Lots of options here from colored and tinted epoxy, to urethane compounds to sawdust and glue. This is part of the art and you’ll have to experiment.

put the blank back on the chuck (remember the indexing!!)

Finish turning to final dimensions

You can accelerate the drying by using Denatured Alcohol immersion, microwaving, or other dehydration methods, google those for specific instructions.

-- - Terry

View sprucegum's profile


324 posts in 2200 days

#2 posted 04-18-2013 08:01 AM

Thanks for the very detailed reply. Since I am in no hurry I think the paper bag and shavings will work just fine for me. I think my cherry burl is large enough for a couple of bowls provide I don’t screw it up to bad when I cut it.Who knows I may become a wood turner yet. As I get older smaller projects seem to have more appeal.

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

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