I'm still in the beginning stages of wood turning but have dabbled with
small items which I've been happy with. I purchased 5 carbide cutters
which came with two metal holders, though one cutter is a diamond shape
and has it's own designated holder. Therefore, I have one holder for the
other 4 cutters. Anyway, I made holders out of square SS stock and now
need wooden handles to fit.
I trimmed my silver maple tree over the weekend. In doing so, I realized
the size of some of the branches would be great for my handles. I shaped
one and pleasantly surprised how well it "turned" out (pun intended).
The question I have is about the freshness of the wood. It was less than
24 hours after I trimmed the tree, I cut a piece for the handle.
Therefore, that puppy was fresh and easy to turn. I've heard about
letting wood sit to dry out, then finish. This is the part I haven't any
knowledge on. What length of time is required to dry out? Is the main
reason to dry for finishes or easier to turn? Though I can't imagine it
being for easier turning. That bark and shavings came off like butter.
Overall, how do I handle turning fresh stock?
Narrow pieces will not take as long to dry out but for regular lumber
the general time frame for natural air drying is about 1 year per inch
You probably will not have to wait that long, given the smaller size and
length, but I would let the piece, cut to approximate length, dry for a
few to several months "before" turning to final size. They will surely
change shape as they dry.
Typically green wood is extremely easy to turn but it will change shape
and maybe crack or twist. Many bowl turners will turn a green piece to
rough shape and then let the piece dry for a year or so before turning
to final shape. This speeds up the drying process.
I've put my wet bowls with more diameter to work on inside
and out - rough turned - into a sealed paper sack. Wait a month
and put it on the lathe to complete. The paper leaks moisture
slowly. Keep out of the sun - don't cook it.
I have also microwaved fine finished bowls on very low power then
when plasticized I bend or distort the bowl shapes.
On 9/8/2015 5:27 PM, Meanie wrote:
"Maybe". Most sealers are used on the ends of the wood/ log. After turning
you have exposed a lot of extra wood normally protected by bark. Seal those
surfaces and it may not dry at all. BUT I have seen a lot of pieces
totally sealed at local suppliers. Hard to tell if they are or were dried
properly before being sealed.
Holy crap! A year? I think I will measure this piece now then measure
later to see the difference. The branch was about 2" dia and turned to
1.5" at it's widest point. That was the final measurement...lol. Glad
I'm experimenting. I'll do the others larger.
As a relatively new turner myself, I offer two pieces of advice:
1. Visit the turners' forum at Sawmill Creek. Lots of experienced turners willing to answer fundamental questions.
2. See if there is an AAW chapter in your community. (That's American Association of Woodturners.) Some chapters have mentoring programs aimed at helping beginners navigate what can be a steep learning curve.
On Tuesday, September 8, 2015 at 3:41:57 PM UTC-5, SBH wrote:
Thank you and yes, there is a group I met a the local woodworking show
last year. Unfortunately, I went to two meets and nobody showed. They
meet once a month and after the second no show, I gave up. Perhaps I'll
try another time when winter comes.
It helps to seal the end grain with wax or Anchor-seal (which is a
wax-in-water emulsion). This slows the loss of water through the end
grain and promotes more even drying throughout the piece, therefore
I turn my bowls thicker than the finished bowl will be. Thickness of
10 percent of the total diameter. Then I put them in a paper bag to
dry. The bag makes a micro-climate inside, slowing the drying. After
1 month I start weighing the pieces with a digital gram scale every 2
weeks and write the weight on the piece with a pencil. When the
weight loss stops, it is dry for all practical purposes. Different
woods dry at different speeds, averaging 3-5 months for a bowl with a
wall thickness of 3/4 inch. It will no longer be round, so the finish
turning corrects this.
Also, avoid using wood with the heart (pith) in it, as it will usually
On Tuesday, September 8, 2015 at 3:41:57 PM UTC-5, SBH wrote:
Yes, turning green is really satisfying but I would encourage you to seal t
he end grain with paint or poly. Otherwise, it may well check or crack beca
use end grains dry far faster that the rest of the piece. Also, I wouldn't
use silver maple for handles. It's too soft in my view.
Your green wood has a relative moisture content of 100 percent. Stable and
thus workable wood is around 12 percent. With dry houses (these days), indo
or furniture should be around 8 percent.
When cutting wood blanks for turning, you don't want the pith at all, it
causes lots of problems. This generally makes branches not good unless
they are large enough to square up w/o the pith.
As you discovered, green wood is great to turn, and large bowls are
often turned green because of the large amount of wood removed, it turns
easy green and dries faster than a giant unturned log, but you have to
turn again after it dries, and you fill any checks and get it back into
a round shape(if that's what you want).
Small turnings like tool handles are simple to turn dry, because you are
removing only a small amount of wood, so turners seldom turn tool
handles from green. The main problem is end grain, which wicks moisture
faster than face grain, so it will cause checks in the end grain, so
your handle might check as well as warp. I would seal everything up
with wax or poly and sit back and observe. You will quickly gain some
first hand knowledge of what works and what doesn't. A little warping
and checking in a tool handle is probably not the end of the world,
might even be cool.
Add Life to your Days not Days to your Life.
The main focus is using these maple branches to practice even if they
aren't the correct wood for handles. After turning that first handle and
reading all the replies including yours (obviously), you are dead on. I
just left that handle sitting next to the lathe and it's slightly warped
and very fine checks on each end. I have another branch I am in the
middle of turning but left it since last weekend and it is also slightly
warped. The third branch is cut to size but still barked and waiting.
I'm trying the masking tape trick to see how that goes.
It's interesting to learn how this works. I just wish I had different
types of trees to try and experiment with as well. I'll have to hunt for
harder trees which may have fallen somewhere. Though, I still have a few
good size logs of Black Walnut (4" to 14" dia sizes) which I saved for
over a year now, when it was removed from the property where I work. I
sealed the ends and they still look good. I will eventually cut them
into the handles after practicing with the Silver Maple.
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