Early start to rough turning

Starting partially from last year, I am shifting to a new schedule where I do all my rough turning during the winter. This way I don’t have to worry about the wood starting to discolor to worse, so I can take my time without feeling rushed. My plan was to buy some wood at auction in November and start working it in December. Well, as luck would have it, when I went to the auction in October, the yard was relatively packed with hardwood. Most of the area around here is planted with softwood, and much of the hardwood forests were all chopped down many years ago to be replanted. I wish I could have been here when that happened because I have heard stories of woodworkers who would travel to pulp factories on the weekend and puchase these huge oak, cherry and other hardwoods for next to nothing. These days, the log yard I patron is about 90% softwood and 10% hardwood that is most likely chopped down when harvesting the softwood.

I went to the auction in October with the intention of looking around and maybe getting a log or 2. I may have been the rain that day, I don’t know, but the price was right, and I ended up walking away with what may be a year’s worth of wood.

Much of it is zelkova, but there was also a maple and several Machilus thunbergii (Tabu-n0-ki). I like to try new wood, so I bough the Machilus thunbergii to experiment with and see how it looks and works. Although I am still not convinced, it does have potential. As you can see in the picture, there is splotching in the sapwood. Although this is due to the red area being much wetter than the surrounding areas, I have a feeling that the same thing will occur when lacquered. The different areas will hopefully absorb different amounts of lacquer and highlighting the different grain. Or, the finish could just look splotchy and terrible. I suppose we will find out in about a year or two.

Rough turning itself is alway a lot of fun. The wood is still soft, so it is possible to cut long, thick shavings. Also, the bowl takes shape right in from of your eyes and gives plently of opportunities for creativity without worrying about ruining anything. Plus, there is no dust! The minor downside is the huge piles of shavings that need to be loaded into the truck and taken up to the garden.


The first batch of bowls is now done. Four logs done… about 20 more to go. It’s looking increasingly unlikely, but I still hope to have all of the rough turning done by the end of the year. Next on the list is a pair of maple logs. I rarely have the chance to work with maple, so I am looking forward to it. More than anything, though, it is always fun to cut into a new log. Although it is possible to get an idea of what is inside by looking at the surface, there are always surprises, both good and bad. The smaller maple log in particular looks to be a palmate maple, which quite often has curly grain. Hopefully, it will be wood to be treasured and not just expensive firewood.



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