April 17, 2017

Gravenstein Apple Wood

A few days ago my wife pointed out that someone in our small community was trying to get rid of some fresh cut Apple wood. The party was offering it for free as fire wood. I contacted the seller and asked if she still had the wood and if I could come and pick a few pieces to turn on my lathe? At the same time I offered to make her a small item from the tree as a token of my thanks. Fruit wood is one of my favourite wood to turn. Its dense and hard and turns like a dream when wet. A few of the pieces were too large for me to lift and get to my truck and the yard was suffering from all the rain we have had and was pretty muddy and slippery!


Early today I began cutting the 9 sections of the tree that I had hauled home. Below is a photo of the last three pieces in the bed of my truck.


I just love cutting turning blocks from green wet wood. My chainsaw seems to just melt through it as long as I cut with the grain (rip) and don’t try to cut across it.

In a few hours I had processed it all and was ready to coat the end grain with a lumber sealant to try to minimize checks and cracks. Fruit wood is notorious for cracking so badly it is at times almost impossible to use.

Apple often has a really dark center or section surrounding the heart wood of the tree with provides a nice contrast to the light outer wood. This tree had been growing almost parallel to the ground and as a result had the heartwood way over on one side. I have never seen a tree with the heart so much off center. This worked to my advantage as it allowed me to get larger pieces with out the pith!

After I had coated both ends with Log Sealer I put it all under a small deck in my back yard and covered it with a sheet of plywood. I am having a lot of trouble with mould on wood that I cover with a tarp so decided to try the plywood instead to see if it would let a little more air inside. If you look closely you may see that most pieces now have a sort of orange bloom. Not sure what that is about.

Was able to find a little time today to spin a few small pieces. The plan was always to make a couple of small items to give to the family in thanks for sharing their tree with me. Never know how green wood, especially green fruit wood will dry and if it will crack or not and as a result I never know what I will give back to the Tree owners until a piece is complete.

The top three photos are a small bowl and the last three are of a ‘cup’ shape which I hope to try dying. I turned them pretty thin about 3/16 or a little less and set them on my boot/wood dryer to speed up the drying process and to see if blowing air inside a form will help it dry without splitting.

The apple is almost dry and has not split but has chosen a really nice organic shape that it wants to be. I found it interesting that as it dried the dark centre or heart wood became quite light colour. I’m hoping that when a finish is applied it will darken again.

I then made a small handle and a sphere which will be joined but a string to make a game of skill where one tries to swing the ball up and catch it on the handle. I am making this for the young lad who lives at the home where I got the wood. Apparently he was really attached to the tree and I’m hoping that this game will give him some pleasure.


I next put the ‘cup’ form back on the lathe and dyed it black. When dry I will sand most of the black off and apply a blue dye which I hope will highlight the grain!

Here’s what it looked like before I started to apply the final finish.

It was pretty cool when I began spinning this piece as I was surprised with a ? mark. Could it be the wood wondering what I was going to make?


August 25, 2013

Is it worth it?

Filed under: Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 4:05 pm

Kind of a long story but I’ll try to keep it short as I can.

In November of 2012 I was invited to gather some Maple from a tree that was being removed in my home town.

I took a trailer load, which was about 24 pieces 16 – 20 ” long and about 24 to 30″ in diameter.

I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare the wood but I did manage to cut the pith out of about half the rounds. I treated the ends both the halved and the whole rounds with Anchorseal. I believe the first generation of Anchorseal is far and away better than the newer type.

Here’s a shot of what happens if you don’t treat them.  The first picture is the treated end of a round and the second is a photo of the other end which I must have forgotten to treat. Not sure if you can see but the treated end had zero splits but the untreated end has many splits.



So, here’s a couple of photos of my days work.


It probably doesn’t look like a days work but here’s what I did. First I took all the rounds that I had split in November and cut them into various shapes for my lathe. Then I took the remaining rounds and removed the pith from them with my 16″ Husky. Not much work you say?


Well considering that I ruined 2 bandsaw blades and hit another two nails with my chain saw I added quite a lot of time to the day, replacing bandsaw blades and sharpening my Husky 5 times.

Here’s a picture of some of the ‘junk’ I hit with my bandsaw.


I have found a great tool that is really helps me sharpen my chain saw. Forgot to mention that if you have a chainsaw with a brake lever you must not remove the sprocket guard when the lock is on. Don’t ask me how I know but it took me 2 hours to get the cover back on!


So, at the end of the day I had cut lots of blanks, made lots of shavings and ruined 2 bandsaw blades to the tune of about $50.00 not counting my time of course but all in all I think it was well worth while. I just wish the Timberline, who make the chain saw sharpener also made a bandsaw blade sharpener.

What say you, do you think the blanks I prepared were worth the day and costs I incurred?

November 1, 2011

From log to Natural Edge Bowl

Filed under: Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 6:55 pm

Today I thought I’d share the process that I go through to make a natural edge bowl.

This is what I should do to prevent the production of a ‘funnel’ as in my first post.

I’m sure there are many many many things that I don’t do that others do. This just happens to be the way that works best for me.

I first cut the log or in this case a branch a little longer than the diameter of the branch.Then I split it on the pith using a chain saw or band saw. This happens to be a piece of Cherry that a long time good friend on Vancouver Island was nice enough to let me have.

I next drill a 1″ hole just through the bark to allow my spur centre to get a good grip.

Next I knock the corners off with my brand new Laguna band saw, here’s a link to a review of this saw.

I mount it on the lathe with the bark side towards the head stock, like so.

Now I flatten the bottom and turn a tennon sized for my chuck

I then shape the outside of the bowl. Because of the shape of a NE bowl this picture looks a little strange.

This is where you can decide what shape you want.

I sand the outside with coarse paper with beeswax and mineral oil at this time.

Now I reverse the bowl on my scroll chuck, utilizing the foot or tendon I made earlier.

I can now hollow it  to the wall thickness that best suits the bowl.

If I am going to finish it green I try to turn as thin as I feel comfortable with.

Then sand the inside with course sand paper if needed, using the same combination of bees wax and mineral oil.

This is where it gets a little tricky. I now reverse it again and mount on a vacuum chuck to remove the tennon and turn the bottom to final thickness. Once in a while this step results in a ‘funnel’ when I try to turn the bottom a little too thin.

Final sanding and burning my name and # on the bottom is nearly the last the step.

Then I  put it in a brown paper bag, I mark the bag with date, type of wood and any other pertinent information and hope it dries without cracking.

Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or question.

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