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Thread: Turning question

  1. #1
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    Turning question

    I was over at my clients house today to do a little touch up on the island top. Mr. was out back running his log splitter stacking firewood for this heating season. While we were talking I asked him if he ever came accross some maple or beech/birch would he save me a few small pieces or some crotch pieces, I wanted to try some turnings on my lathe.
    He gave me two very large pieces of cherry from a tree he just cut down at his mothers house. Both are beyond crotch there are several branches growing from one of the pieces.

    Having never turned stock from a log... I think I have most of it figured out but the speed. The slowest my lathe will go is 500 rpm. Is that too fast?

    Also this cherry was just cut over the past few days. so it is fresher than most fish we get around here

    Obviously I plan to cut manageable pieces from these logs. And my Delta lathe only has a 12 inch swing over the bed. But I can turn the motor 90 or 180 to turn larger, I just dont have a floor mounted tool rest.

  2. #2
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    Rich, I know little about green large out-of-round pieces so I will let the experts like Vaughn chime in. I would like to say Congrats though on the nice wood haul.
    Chinese Proverb: Man who eats many prunes gets good run for the money.

  3. #3
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    Sounds like he gave you a couple of bundles of fun.

    I apologize in advance if I point out something below that you already know about. I just figure I'll do a bit of a brain dump in case there are others who haven't seen some of this discussed.

    If you can, I'd suggest cutting the main log down the middle to remove the pith (to the extent possible). If it log is wide enough, I usually cut a 1 3/4" to 2" thick slab out of the middle of the log to remove the pith. If the log is smaller, a single chainsaw kerf will get most of the pith out of the way. When I do that with an oddball piece of wood, I try to line up the cut to maximize the amount of turnable wood in the two leftover halves. (I'm sure most folks do the same thing instinctively.) Since there are branches running into those halves, you'll still have some pith running into the blank at odd angles. Not much you can do about that except know there will be knots in the finished piece, and those knots might have cracks.

    After you have the pith cut out, you can use a saw (bandsaw, chainsaw, or Sawzall) to cut off any horns and try to get the blank somewhat roundish in shape and balanced. If the halves are big enough, you can probably get more than one blank out of each half. (I'm sure you've already figured all of the above out already.) The 500 RPM speed should be OK as long as you have the piece held securely in the lathe and balanced pretty well. The standard mantra of sharp tools, steady hands, and light cuts will get it the rest of the way round, and from there it's only a matter of cutting away the parts that don't look like a bowl.

    Being real fresh cherry, it's probably going to want to move a lot as it dries. Most folks would take one of two approaches: Turn it to finished thickness and just let it warp, or leave it a bit thicker and plan to re-turn it and take it to finished dimensions after it dries. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods, and they all depend on your point of view. Since you have more than one piece to play with, this might be a good opportunity to try several different methods* for drying the green wood, and seeing what works best for you.



    * As you likely already know, there are about as many ways to dry turned pieces as there are turners. Air drying, kiln drying, paper bag drying, drying with shavings, drying without shavings, boiling, microwaving, soaking in denatured alcohol, soaking in liquid dish detergent, spinning at high speed with mineral spirits moped on the inside, doing nothing, and some cockamamie routine involving chicken bones, a voodoo doll of a tree, and some straight pins. All of them work. And none of them work. Just depends on the wood, the climate, and maybe the phase of the moon.


    Lately, I've been mostly turning to finished thickness while the wood is still green. I've been drying most of my stuff in a paper bag with shavings for a week or so two, then I pull it out of the bag and leave it laying around the shop until I get the urge to turn it. I haven't used my DNA bath in months, but things seem to be drying just as fast as before, and I'm not seeing any more cracks than I did previously. On bowls, I've also started running a band of plastic stretch wrap tightly around the rim before putting it in the bag to dry. I don't know if it makes any difference, but I've been seeing fewer cracks than I did before I started using the wrap.
    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

  4. #4
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    Thank you sir.
    I plan on starting this journey after this present project, will post pics.
    Ill put a couple up today of the logs.

  5. #5
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    Every thing Vaughn said... I haven't tried the plastic wrap yet, and really haven't been turning a lot of green wood until this year.... the wind storms we had this past spring has brought down lots and lots of trees around my neighborhood and I've gotten some new green cherry, hackberry, walnut and mimosa... I do as Vaughn suggested... I cut the pith out as much as I can... rarely cut slab out of the middle though... I'm stingy and hate to lose the wood... but I do cut as near through the pith as I can, then nibble the edges as round as I can so the blank is somewhat balanced when I put it on the lathe. Like yours, my lathe will only go down to 450, which is pretty fast to start a bowl, but not so fast you can't.... just be careful and make sure it's really really secure.

    Depending on the size of the blank, I have a 3, 4 and 6 inch face plate and always start a bowl on a face plate.... I just can't bring myself to trust the drive center or a screw chuck on a bowl blank. Bring up the tails stock until I'm comfortable with the true on the blank, then I'll slide that back out of the way... I'll start the bowl on the lower speed, but as soon as I feel comfortable with the balance of the blank, I start turning the speed up...

    For drying, I use some of the methods VM mentioned... I mostly microwave and/or spin at high speed for a while... I've just recently tried the mineral spirits method... it works pretty good too. My DNA bath is sitting under the work bench, but the last two pieces I put through that, split wide open on me, so haven't used it in about 6 months...
    Chuck
    Tellico Plains, TN
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/TellicoTurnings
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
    If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.

  6. #6
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    You didnít give an approximate size but the larger the diameter the greater the risk. So 1+ on what Chuck said. I would try to use a faceplate to start due to your lowest speed of 500; I have a 3" and it has held everything up to 16" diameter.
    If it is large you can also take the center out a little larger (2.5-3) then re-split for quartersawn orientation for winged boxes and many other items. I am not sure of cherry but some wood have the best grain in quartersawn.
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  7. #7
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    Here they are. If you see anything I should be afraid of please point it out.
    Remember Im a flatworker by profession














  8. #8
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    chicken bones, a voodoo doll of a tree, and some straight pins.

    I knew I was missing something with my turning. Thanks Vaughn



    Looks like you have lots of fun there with that cherry. Remember we need pics. Careful with the faster speeds on the large chunks unless you can do a good job rounding them out first. I did a huge chunk of cedar a few months back that I had to turn at 200 and no faster till it was round enough to not jump off the lathe. Have fun
    Last edited by Drew Watson; 08-14-2011 at 02:46 PM.
    Daily Thought: SOME PEOPLE ARE LIKE SLINKIES..... NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ANYTHING BUT THEY BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE WHEN PUSHED DOWN THE STAIRS...............

  9. #9
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    Oh yeah, that looks like a big ol' pile of blanks there, Rich. Nice haul.

    On the logs what have started splitting, I'd continue splitting the blanks along the same crack if possible. On the others, there are almost no wrong ways to cut them...here again, a good chance for you to experiment a bit.

    Chuck, you mentioned that you don't trust a spur center when roughing out a bowl. When I can, I like to use a Forstner bit to drill a hole in the blank the same diameter as my spur center (1" in my case). I'll only drill it about 1/2" to 1" deep, but with the spur center in a 'pocket' like that, it's about impossible for it to come off the lathe as long as the tailstock is in place.
    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

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post

    Chuck, you mentioned that you don't trust a spur center when roughing out a bowl. When I can, I like to use a Forstner bit to drill a hole in the blank the same diameter as my spur center (1" in my case). I'll only drill it about 1/2" to 1" deep, but with the spur center in a 'pocket' like that, it's about impossible for it to come off the lathe as long as the tailstock is in place.
    I've had this suggested before and have tried it, but I guess I'm gun shy... I just prefer and feel more comfortable with the face plate... it does make it more awkward if you're trying a hollow form and don't want a big opening, if you put the face plate where the top of the form would be... if you just use it to hold the base and then part off that part, it's not a problem.... remember, I'm the guy that took the bowl to the face, so I'm pretty cautious with things that spin at high speed towards me.
    Chuck
    Tellico Plains, TN
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/TellicoTurnings
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
    If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.

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