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Thread: Turning Dry Wood?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Laurinburg NC

    Turning Dry Wood?

    I was turning a piece of what appeared to be maple. Anyhow it was very dry and I tried as best as I could and the turning was not smooth but rough. I started out with an Ewt easy rougher, then a Ewt easy finisher and then a Doug Thompsom 3/8" and 1/2" bowl gouge. Dougs tools worked the best but still left a lot to be desired. I had never turned much wood this dry. All mine has been fresh cut green wood. Tools were pretty sharp. I have used all these tools plus a bunch of others and they have worked great. Ill try again tomorrow. Any help is appreciated.!
    Last edited by Mike Turner; 05-04-2014 at 01:31 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    North West Indiana
    What RPM?
    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake.

    I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place.

    Premier Bovine Scatologist


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    What were you turning? A bowl or spindle project? Was the wood grain running parallel to the lathe bed (like a spindle or end-grain bowl) or was it running perpendicular (like a typical face grain bowl)? And when you say the turning was rough...were the cutting tools "chattering" as you tried to cut, leaving a washboard surface? Or was the wood surface rough from tear-out?

    Switching from fresh wood to dry wood is a big adjustment, especially on bowls and similar projects, and even more for someone who's still building up experience. The cuts need to be lighter, and the tools need to be VERY sharp. ("Pretty" sharp will only cause you grief.) And of course even then, some blanks just don't want to be cut.
    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
    Dec 2006
    Coastal plain of North Carolina
    I turn almost nothing but dry wood as I turn lots of boxes. I would never recommend the EW Tools for dry wood as they are essentially scrapers. Scrapers can result in tear out and torn grain unless presented correctly. In order to cut dry wood you have to whittle it. Think of how you use a pocket knife to shave a piece of wood. You use the blade to shear off shavings. The same thing happens when a gouge or skew is presented to a piece of wood at a shearing angle. If you are turning and getting little bits of shavings as opposed to curls the angle of presentation is wrong and/or the tool is dull.

    In woodturning you almost never present a tool straight on to the wood and get the best cut. If you know a more experienced turner I would recommend spending a few hours with him and learning the cuts. I wish I had done that when I started turning and it would have improved my enjoyment of the this craft.
    I may be getting a little older physically but mentally I'm still tarp as a shack.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    I have never had the luxury of turning green wood. I have turned a lot of dry maple and it turns fine, even spindle with grain orientated with the lathe bed. I rough with a gouge the do most of the rest with a 1" skew. I also turn dry woods like Osage Orange. One of the most difficult was some dry Bradford Pear, was like turning granite. Got more dust than shavings. Woods like oak, walnut, hickory are difficult to get smooth surfaces at all.
    Keep at it. Get some advice on sharpening.
    "Folks is funny critters."

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

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Austin, Texas
    One of the elder statesmen at the local Woodcraft had some advice I thought was good ...

    If someone is just starting - buying their first lathe - he suggests they start with a couple Easy Wood carbide tools. The tools are easy to use, and you don't have to learn sharpening before you start turning.

    The same guy goes on to explain that you will never get results as good with the Easy Wood tools as with conventional tools, but a good set of conventional tools, plus sharpening jigs, plus sharpening skills, plus turning skills with each of the tools, are something he recommends adding after you build expertise on the lathe.

    I concur. My nephew was visiting and wanted to learn to turn. Quick start with Easy Wood, and he became remarkably good in what to me was record time. But he could never get as smooth a cut as he wanted with the Easy Wood, so I taught him to use a bowl gouge - after he was good with the simple tools. That combo worked very well.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Laurinburg NC
    On the rpm I tried slow and a Medium speed to try and figure out was going on. ..(my digital readout isnt working) The tools was chattering at all. It was running smooth...Yeah I know the EWT arent good for this turning. I was trying different tools experimenting. I have several Thompsom tools 3/8",1/2" and 5/8" bowl gouges. They have worked tremendously good for me for a couple of yrs but I have been turning green magnolia and a lot of green maple....The maple was one I cut down and I have about 50 pieces roughed and drying now. . I am just totally new to turning dry wood. I am not a newbie but still am learning a lot.

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