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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010


    I am new to wood turning and have been practicing beads and coves on plain pine 2x2's. Then a neighbor trimmed up a big holly tree. That was a lot more fun to turn but it sure did split as it dried. So taking that as a learning experience and to the delight of my wife, I cut down a small and very dead maple in the back yard. That maple was solid and hard. Another friend gave me a hunk of wood he had trimmed that was about 6" x 36". It weighed about as much as a hunk of iron and was about as hard to cut. I think it might have been chestnut by the look of the wood and the presence of worms.

    Then manna from heaven. A hickory tree fell in the back yard and I have enough wood for ten years of turning - as long as it can be made from hickory. But I wanted to try other woods so I bought a box of blanks (all untagged) and turning them was a real delight but I have no idea what most were. I know that at least one was yew.

    So my question: What would be a fun wood for someone just starting to turn? Ideally, it should be very forgiving and produce a nice finish and be not too expensive.

    Any suggestions? And where is a good place to get the wood?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Close View Post

    Any suggestions? And where is a good place to get the wood?

    free wood is the best kind...

    QUOTE=Fred Close;234832]

    Any suggestions? And where is a good place to get the wood?


    after the next storm goes through drive around looking for downed trees ...

    Is there a Rocklers or Woodcraft near you is so go and get some Green wood sealer. Cut the picth out of the blanks and paint the ends with the sealer. You can use Parafin wax melted or even old latex paint but the anchorseal or green wood sealer works best IMHO.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    I'll echo Don. Free wood is my preference and recommendation. Some will be great to turn and some might not, but it's one of the best ways to get practice and experience for very little expense. Tree service companies are often willing to let you have a few pieces if you catch them in the process of trimming or removing trees. I've gotten sycamore, oak, elm, red eucalyptus, jacaranda, and alder that way. I've also had success getting green (and in some cases not-so-green) wood from firewood lots...ash, camphor, red gum, and some others I'm forgetting right now.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Reno, Nv
    Hey Fred!!
    I was wondering what kind of stuff you would turn and what the capacity of your lathe is?
    Your Respiratory Therapist wears Combat boots

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    The pine is not a good turning wood.
    Look for hard dense woods. Fruitwoods are good.
    For your beads, cherry would be nice.
    Good luck. After this we need pictures.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Fred check around your area to see if there is a local recycling dump for garden waste. I have one about 2 miles from my house. When i go to drop the garden waste i look around the dump and have found some real gems. This dump is free to local citizens but graden service and tree trimmers pay to dump by weight. They chop everything up and make either mulch from trees or compost the rest.

    I spoke to the lady that runs the weigh bridge and cleared the way with her for me to lift the odd piece from the piles.

    Never know what you can find. I dont do that much turning that i need much so my take is pretty small.

    So i echo free wood. The blanks you can buy are usually all straight grain and well they get boring quickly.

    Another idea is go to your local lumber mill. In my case the guy specifically gets burls in and sells them by weight. I bought my first one a while back and am just about to start with turning it. Great fun to findout whats inside. Much more of a challenge as to how you cut it and turn it.

    Good luck.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Goodland, Kansas
    Maple and the hickory you have are good woods to turn. As was said the best wood is free wood. If something goes wrong or it cracks beyond repair just put it in the firewood pile and go on to the next piece.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: That’s when you return from work one day
    and say, “Hi, Honey, I’m home – forever.”

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

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