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Thread: Advice needed my first burl...a little one

  1. #1
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    Advice needed my first burl...a little one

    Ok i picked up a small burl the other day its only 6lbs and i thought first time out i am gonna try a small one. Have no clue what i am doing so i need all the advice i can get. I have up to this point only ever seen burl in pictures so i could not resist the opportunity to get my hands on one.

    Heres the pictures to give you an idea of its overall shape. I named the sides just for reference

    Click image for larger version. 

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    So i will give you my thoughts and then i need setting straight. I cannot afford to make the mistakes i have made in the past with my other bowl attempts so here goes.

    Mount on a faceplate from the hollow scalloped side which would be the front view and then proceed to turn a tennon on the area between the "buns" at the rear or opposite side. Also cut bark away to form the outer edge of the bowl.

    Then mount tennon in scroll chuck and proceed to hollow out the scallop shaping it to the bowl. Just to be clear on my thoughts at this stage the bowl bottom would be the buns sides and where the trunk is on the front the inner of the bowl.

    Hows that sound. shoot with any opinions, alternatives, questions etc i need all the help i can get on this one.

    Thanks in advance to all
    Last edited by Rob Keeble; 06-25-2010 at 02:43 AM.
    cheers

  2. #2
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    Paging Dr McMillian STAT!!
    Your Respiratory Therapist wears Combat boots

  3. #3
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    Rob, if I'm following the pictures correctly, I think your planned orientation will be fine. In other words, the spot where the red arrow is pointing in your last photo would be the top (opening) of the bowl, and the opposite side would be the bottom (tenon) of the bowl. Is that correct? Keep in mind that this would have the pith running through the sides of the bowl, so you might get some cracks, but personally, I would just figure that was part of the plan and run with it.

    The other approach would be to saw the wood down the middle through the pith, leaving you with two thinner blanks to work with. Without seeing it in person, it's hard for me to say if the resulting halves would be thick enough to do much good.

    Regardless of the orientation, I don't think I'd use a faceplate to start out. You're going to have a tough time getting a decent flat spot for the faceplate to sit, and if you get a bad catch with the faceplate, it puts a lot of stress on your lathe and tools. Something has to give, and it might not be pretty. Instead, I'd use the spur center in the headstock and start the piece out between centers. If you drill a shallow 1" diameter hole with a Forstner bit (say 1/2" deep or so), it makes a nice flat-bottomed pocket for the spur center to be seated in. You can make a tenon on the tailstock end and shape the outside of the bowl while you've got it between centers. And if you get a bad catch, the spur center will just spin and make the hole a bit deeper. And since it greatly reduces the chance of the piece flying off the lathe, the hole also allows you to up the speed a bit to make the roughing-out a bit easier. Nothing flies off the lathe except curlies.
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  4. #4
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    Thank you very much Vaughn. You got my idea dead on and you also right in regards to how thick this is. Its too small to cut in half. The spur center idea is just what i was looking for. Had not even thought along those lines. I was worried about even how to mount the faceplate i have cause if i had the screws would have gone in to the edges.

    Well i will give it a go nothing ventured nothing gained.

    This is still green. Is there such a thing with burls or are they already hard and only the pith where the original trunk was green. Have absolutely no knowledge of a burl.

    Thanks for the guidance.
    cheers

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Keeble View Post
    ...This is still green. Is there such a thing with burls or are they already hard and only the pith where the original trunk was green. Have absolutely no knowledge of a burl...
    If the tree it came from is green, chances are the burl is also green, wet, and fairly easy to cut. It's likely move some when it dries. Might be a little, might be a lot. One of those dice-rolling moments, I guess. I think pretty much all the typical green wood tricks and tips would apply to burls, too. Thin walls increase the chance of warping, thick walls increase the chance of cracking. You can either turn to finish thickness and let 'er warp, or leave it thick enough to re-turn after drying, while hoping it doesn't crack beyond salvaging. I've had good and not so good results with both approaches. (Not just on burls, but wet woods in general.)

    I'll bet you'll do just fine, Rob.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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  6. #6
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    Rob, I think Vaughn has sent you in the direction you want. Use the tailstock for sure! Burls and other knarlly looking wood can come apart on you quite easily. Not that it's ever happened to me.
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  7. #7
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    What is the overall size? It's hard to tell from the pics, but I'll guess pretty small. The problem is, as I see it, by the time you've turned the area between the buns for a tenon ... . If it was mine I'd be using a glue block to save the bottom wood.

    You could bring it 'round if you'd like.

  8. #8
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    Ed brings up a good point. You could still start between centers to make a flat spot to glue the block to, then after the glue dries, it'd be between centers again to turn the glue block into a tenon.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  9. #9
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    Now thats a great idea cause it sure would save a ton of the bottom of the bowl wood.

    Ed i might just stop by for you to see it. I aint in a super hurry but is like pocket money was when we was kids at say 9 years old. Its burning a hole in my pocket or should i say hands.
    cheers

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Keeble View Post
    is like pocket money was when we was kids at say 9 years old. Its burning a hole in my pocket or should i say hands.
    My turning buddy has the same problem with those huge cherry burls he got from near Algonquin Park. Has this burning itch to turn them, but hasn't the experience to know where to start.

    You can stop by anytime. Have you ever had a turning lesson other than by reading?

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