A one-day course is an excellent, relaxing opportunity to get away from it all and do something different for a day, in the peace and tranquillity of our Woodland Workshop. To reinforce the skills, there will be several projects such as a crazy stick pen, a spin top with chatterwork, a tool handle with a brass ferrule, and more from Bonnie’s book. I learned another lesson from the day before—turning wood when you’re tired is dangerous. As bowls are soaked in it, the moisture content of the solution will increase, which, along with other impurities leached from the wood will attack metal containers. This is a safety limitation because a crushed tenon cannot hold the turning blank securely.
Drying can be accelerated by warmth but moisture has to be prevented from evaporating from the surface too fast or the bowl will surely split. Seems to me that the turn green to finish folks go to a lot of bother and still end up with a warped piece. As green wood is turned, the internal stresses of the wood are released without the usual cracking and checking. End grain turnings, wood parallel to the bed of the lathe, are generally very stable and do not move much at all, especially if the pith/heartwood is removed. From time to time, I had one or two small turning bits to deal with, but otherwise, I kept a tarp over the lathe.
Dave and Connie first demonstrated how to safely use a chainsaw to cut green wood for turning. Split bowl turnings are an interesting and creative alternative to regular bowl turning. In situations where green wood is to be processed into usable boards, (especially in the case of thicker lumber), a kiln is frequently used to control the drying process.
Turns out that wax-impregnated wood does not take well to the multiple oil-soak technique I use to enhance translucence. Tool selection, what tools you need for a start, 6 basic tools is all you need to start turning. I am turning and sanding so things are looking up. I just purchased some beautiful cherry burls and have started turning them. What is desired is to be able to complete one these creations without the wood cracking or checking, relegating the piece to hold faceplate screws in the shop. I seem to get a few months of putting lots of green roughed turnings in about 3-4 gallons of dna.
If a tree has just been cut down, or there has been recent storm damage, it’s best to process the logs into lumber as quickly as possible; doing so will help to open up the wood and aid in drying, which can prevent rot or stain from marring the wood. Logs or blanks stored in heated buildings will generally dry faster than those left in outdoor spaces.
The Fifth argument in favor of turning green wood and the one that adds a certain mystery to the process, some of that Hocus Pocus mentioned earlier, is just this: the final shape is largely undetermined. If you switch off the heating for a month or two and the air gets moister, then the wood will slowly gain water until the percentage water content achieves the value for an unheated room in a house which is typically 12%. While somewhat difficult to use, when handled correctly these tools leave an optimal finish. The most common method of drying wood bowls is placing them in a paper grocery bag.
Keep the olive wood in a cool dark place for long term storage, away from the sun and the wind. This is to ensure that if checking occurs, there is still enough wood left to utilize the full diameter of the log. End grain loses moisture more quickly than side grain – setting up the stresses in the wood that cause splitting. For turning a bowl from a section of green wood, success depends on properly preparing the blank. The idea here is not to leave it in for a long period of time, otherwise you will char the wood.
Moisture diffusion, in conjunction with capillary flow, causes the moisture contained on the interior of the timber to move towards the drier exterior surface of the wood. The wood is thin enough to allow movement, resulting in crack-free finished pieces. The water in wood moves from zones with higher concentrations of moisture to zones with lower concentrations.
It’s important not to rush the drying process too quickly, but once a wood pile has safely reached EMC, it may be necessary (especially during humid summer months) to bring the MC down even further for a specific project. I guess the goal isn’t to find the perfect formula (though I would like to) but instead to find how far I can push it without ruining the wood.
I had a large piece of spalted box elder that seemed suitable for this purpose, so we began the birthday bowl turning process. Most of what I turn includes the pith/ heartwood, so what follows applies to turning bowl blanks with the pith/heartwood included. There are no style points awarded for your technique when coating turning blanks. To make it interesting, Bob inserts a wood lamination giving this bowl a wonderful unique appearance! The second benefit to you as a wood turner for using free green wood is a financial one.
Images of the rough turning are shown below and you can see that the bowl is indeed large, almost as large as Art. In addition to shrinking unevenly or possibly coming loose during drying, (leaving a knothole), knots can also create areas of concentrated abnormalities in the wood grain, and consequently impact its shrinkage properties. And it has been exactly that fear of how to re-mount, safely, a green turned blank that has since warped that has kept me from attempting green turning, until now. Here’s a feature about his work, note the bird songs as he works away at his lathe.
I usually add a collar or a lid with finial and I want as little wood movement as possible. The solution does collect wood dust and other debris over a period of time, so I strain the solution when transferring between containers. Another downside of turning green wood relates to sanding the bowl, once it has completed drying. We will use freshly cut (green) wood because it is so much easier to work with while learning the cutting techniques. Turning end grain pieces becomes possible, if not downright easy compared to dried wood. Given the straw analogy, it’s understandable that wood loses or gains water much faster through end grain than side grain.
Many thermometers (both traditional and digital) sold by big-box retailers also feature a hygrometer with a somewhat accurate readout of the relative humidity; the ability to know the rh of both the drying cabinet and the wood shop proves to be a helpful and prudent investment. Think about it. It is delivered already cut and tree trimmers are happy because they do not have to pay a dump fee, and I am happy because I have a lot of bowl blanks. The second step was breaking the logs down into straight sections that would allow mounting the pieces in the lathe, centered on the dark wood core.
The woodshop had heard this sound already in our class—most wood turners, novice and proficient, catch their blade at some point. So when selecting wood for turning blanks, avoid limb wood and look instead for trunk logs with minimal knots. If you’re new to turning green wood or have been doing it, it’s worth getting this book out of the library to look at. There This is a pretty good introductory book on green wood turning. The technique used was called end turning,” where the piece of wood is pinched between the lathe’s drive center and tailstock.
If you are interested in turning bowls you should also own a bowl gouge, 5/8” is a solid size. Cellulose or Acrylic spray from a can is my preferred finishing material, and now I always try spraying a sample of wood with a small area of inked work to observe the reaction. Conversely, in hardwoods, just the opposite is true: its reaction wood forms on the topside and is called tension wood. John Jordan turns and teaches turning in Antioch, TN, and demonstrates frequently throughout the world. Now if you want the wood to spalt, ie have bacteria work wonderful color changes in the wood, set one end of the log on soil.
This movement is generally true of bowls that have been turned from face grain which has pith/heartwood included, ie. the grain is perpendicular to the bed of the lathe. Remember also that green wood is much weaker than dried wood, and the blank can pull out of the threads if aggressively turned. As with the one-day version of this course, to start with you are introduced to all aspects of a complete ‘tree-to-product’ process – from selecting and cleaving green wood ready for turning, to making a variety of small items for the kitchen and garden: spatulas, candlesticks, rolling pins, dibbers, string-lines and similar.
Painting the ends of the logs will help slow the drying process and even out the seasoning, reducing chances of a large crack. However, if you want to bring along your own turning tools and work with them, we encourage you to do so. I was due to go on a 10 day trip a few days after I rough turned the blank so I couldn’t peak in on it during its time drying. This mold can have active spores, which will be released during the turning process.