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Thread: Question for those who turn green wood

  1. #1
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    Question for those who turn green wood

    OK all of you experienced green wood turners (that sounds like an oxymoron)---HELP

    A couple very kind and generous FWW members gave me a beautiful gift. It is a humongus walnut crotch (22” wide x 19 1/2” long. 8” thick at the tail of the Y. 2” at the end of one leg of the wye and 3” at the other leg.)

    My lathe experience:
    I have just been playing around, having fun, making a few requested wood turned gifts, a couple pens, candle holders, dry weed holders, etc. The gift seems to have come with a price. I am supposed to get my skinny in gear and make something of this beautiful piece of wood. Normally I would just charge full speed ahead. And if it were a small piece that is what I would do. I just DO NOT want to mess this one up.

    I have never turned a piece of green wood. I have never turned anything this large. I have never turned anything where I would have felt genuine regret if I messed up. With this piece I want it all.

    The books and DVDs that I have are pretty close to useless for this. The libraries were no more help. I have not tried Barnes and Nobel yet.

    Knowing that I know nothing about what I am about to try---WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?

    What I have:
    Delta 46-460 1hp variable speed lathe. Claimed 12.5” swing. Speed range 250 - 4,000 rpm.
    Some very good gouges and scrapers (Doug Thompson). An inexpensive skew (Harbor Freight). Good lighting. Good safety equipment. Good DC. Four jaw chucks. Tail stock chucks. And a bunch of the little, necessary lathe stuff.

    My largest faceplates are 3” (One is aluminum with 8 holes; the other is steel with 4 holes). This feels small to me. Should I purchase larger (Santa will buy one)?

    87 years of experience, but nothing that applies to this.

    Advice and suggestions are wanted, desired, and needed.

    What I am planning:
    I plan, if you concur, to make a jig to create a flat spot on the outside curve of the crotch using a router. This would be used to mount a faceplate. The flat spot would be parallel to the flat surface of the crotch.

    Questions and Assumptions:
    This wood is asking to be a bowl. I assume the top of the bowl would be towards the center of the tree. Where do I want to cut my 12.25” circle---as far up into the crotch as possible??? What thickness at the rim? I assume a rather thick rim (1/2”? 3/4”?) to show off the wood. I cannot go too thin due to lack of experience.

    The "box" shown in pic #2 is a jig for a router to slide over (the router will be on a board that spans the box sides.) The router bit will make the flat spot for the faceplate to mount. The box has had 2 sides removed to show, more clearly, where the crotch is mounted.

    The vertical lines that show on the flat side are NOT cracks. They are a slight change in pitch created by sawing.

    In the past I have seen many threads/posts on what to do with green wood after it is turned---I hope they will provide the info I need on that phase of the project. However, I am open to suggestions on that phase also.

    Cynthia, I am sounding like you when you got started in woodworking…questions, questions.

    Enjoy,
    JimB.......Pics attached.Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Jim C Bradley; 01-09-2013 at 10:07 PM. Reason: clarification after seeing the pics in FWW
    First of all you have to be smarter than the machine.
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  2. #2
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    Jim i don't do a lot of bowls. But if it was me and i wanted to make a bowl out of this,i would first cut my blank 6 1/8 from the v in your crotch. After cutting the blank,i'd just put it between my drive center and live center,No face plate. Turn a tennon for my chuck, using the feather, not the bark side as the bottom of my bowl. Now all you have to do is put it in your chuck and turn your bowl. Ok now you have a wet bowl,keep your thickness at about 1 inch thick, and try to get it as consiscent as possable. Now what i do is i'll just put it in a brown paper bag, for about 2 weeks. Check on it every ounce in a while to see how it's doing. After a couple weeks, i'll take it out of the bag and just put it on a shelf for a month or so. I'll weigh it after i take it out of the bag, and keep checking the weight every few days till it stops loosing weight. Then i'll put back on the lathe and true up and get it as thin as you feel like you can get it. Sand apply finish of you choise. Hope this helps.
    Steve Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Stephen Bellinger; 01-10-2013 at 12:04 AM.

  3. #3
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    Jim,
    I think Steve has you on the right track. Just a couple of thoughts on circle placement. It is possible that the bark at the V of the crotch may extend into the joint where the two branches come together, and that also is the thinner part of the blank. If you position your circle close to the V you might risk having a bark inclusion in the side of your bowl and the depth of the bowl would be limited to the thickness of the blank at that point. I'd move my circle toward the thicker part of the blank to get deeper bowl and less risk of bark problems. I would probably use a screw chuck in the cut side and my tail stock in the bark side to mount the blank and would make sure I drilled the hole for the screw chuck at an angle that gave me the maximum amount of turnable wood. I stick my green blanks in DNA for a couple of days and then cover the outside of the blank in Anchorseal and several layers of newspaper. They go upside down on a wire shelf in my attic for a couple of months or until they stop losing weight. Then I finish turn them. Hope this helps and good luck.

  4. #4
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    Jim, I agree with the other guys. You're WAY overthinking this.

    A few observations/suggestions:

    Your lathe can handle about 12" in diameter. So before worrying about mounting the blank on the lathe, use your bandsaw to cut a 12" circle out of the piece of wood. If it was me, I'd position the circle to take advantage of the pretty crotch figure, but as Ted mentioned, if you get too close to the "V" part of the blank, you run the risk of having bark show up in the side of the bowl. Of course, you'll end up with some leftover cutoffs from all sides of the circle. Use those for smaller projects. (Nothing in the Book of Turning Rules says you can only make one thing out of that piece of wood.)

    Once you have the 12" circle cut, simply put your spur center on one side, your live center on the other, and mount that bad boy up. I agree with Steve...I'd make the bark side of the blank the top of the bowl, and the flat/cut side the bottom. If you're concerned about the spur center holding, use a Forstner bit to drill a 1" diameter hole where you want to put the spur center. Drill through through the bark and about 3/8" to 1/2" into solid wood. Then, drive the spur center into the hole before mounting it. With 1/2" shoulders on the hole, there's no way the spur center will get loose.

    The jig for making a flat spot is more overthinking. If you absolutely must have the faceplate, simply place the blank flat side down on your drill press, and use a Forstner bit to drill a series of overlapping shallow holes -- all to the same shallow depth -- through the bark and into solid wood. If you drill all the holes to the same depth, you'll end up with a flat place to mount the faceplate, and by doing it on the drill press, it'll be parallel to the already-sawn side of the blank. I should note that I mount the faceplate on the side of the blank what will become the top of the bowl, not the bottom. I only use the faceplate long enough to turn a tenon on the other side of the blank. (And the tenon side ends up being the bottom of the bowl.) And yes, a 3" faceplate is as big as you need...just use good lag screws in the 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" range. I've turned larger blanks than the one Larry sent you, and never used bigger than a 3" or 4" faceplate.

    I can understand the perceived pressure when turning a blank that was received as a gift, Jim. But I'm confident you can pull this off. And even if it doesn't go exactly as planned, it's no big worry. Remember, it's only wood...this stuff grows on trees.
    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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  5. #5
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    this stuff grows on trees is right and we got more where that came from and i have some too now.. this came from paul gallian i was just the messenger glad your starting to get into the harness jim and give brent some progress to look at when he needs a break from his hurdles.. we all have hurdles jim and we all need to jump over them threw all the help here from the forum folk
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
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    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim C Bradley View Post
    I cannot go too thin due to lack of experience.
    So far that hasn't stopped me..

    Question: I would naively have gone with putting the bottom of the bowl on the bark side because the curve is already like a bowl that way (maximizing the wood available..) but y'all are recommending the other direction so clearly there is a good reason but what is it?

  7. #7
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    i am not a turner ryan but i think its because of the figure location on the piece
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim C Bradley View Post
    I cannot go too thin due to lack of experience.
    To quote those I've learned from: As long as the inside diameter does not exceed the outside diameter, you haven't gone too thin.
    Measure with a micrometer, mark with chalk, cut with an axe.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Mooney View Post
    ...Question: I would naively have gone with putting the bottom of the bowl on the bark side because the curve is already like a bowl that way (maximizing the wood available..) but y'all are recommending the other direction so clearly there is a good reason but what is it?
    As you get closer to the outside of the tree, the feather figure tends to disappear. If you position the visible feather (the flat part of this blank) at the bottom, there's a better chance more of it will be visible in the finished piece. Now if I was making a hollow form out of this blank, I'd go the other way around and try to place the feather on the top of the piece. But with a bowl, you'd likely be turning away most of the figure and have just a hint of it on the rim of the bowl.

    Does that make sense?

    Also keep in mind, that you can never completely predict where the figure will end up in a blank. I just take my best guesses, open it up, and hope for the best.
    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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    I agree with Ted and Vaughn. I think the Delta is 12 1/2" so 12" would be good. If it were me I would rough it down to about 1" thick walls. I anchoreal mine completely. I let dry for 6 months to a year. I would not worry about thin Jim. I would turn it down 1/4" to maybe even a 1/2" thick when you decide to finish it. I had a demonstrator tell us one time at a demo at the AAW Symposium. Turn a bowl down to 1/8" thick, a hollow form thru a 1/2" hole and get it out of your system. He said he couldn't understand the all thin stuff. I turn my bowls from 1/4" to 1/2" for a finished thickness depending on diameter.
    Bernie W.

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