Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Turning a piece w/ pith?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Vernon, WI
    Posts
    230

    Turning a piece w/ pith?

    So from everything I've read so far, I am told NOT to turn a piece on the lathe with the pith in it. The first bowl I made (elm), and a birch one I am making both have the pith in them, specifically in the center (which I am told is even worse). Basically I took the cut off log and threw it on the lathe the way it sits. I read that this will greatly increase your chance of cracking, yet both of my bowls are crack free. So is that just an exaggerated statement or do I need to stop testing my luck before I turn a couple of cracking disasters? Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Tyler, Texas
    Posts
    336
    I turn pieces with the pith in them all the time as do most other turners. Nearly all of my end-grain pieces have the pith in them because logs big enough to turn end-grain without the pith are rare to me.

    It's true that the pith is prone to cracking but that's not a big problem in my experience. Most of the time, if the piece is turned fairly thin, the cracking is limited to the area right around the pith and can be repaired with CA glue, decorative infilling or even left as-is for "character."

    Now, I have to admit that I was turning a large (for my lathe) 11" diameter x 6" deep Cedar bowl thursday that had the pith through the center. The Cedar log was "lobed" and I thought it would look cool, sorta like flower petals, if turned end-grain. I was almost through deepening the inside when that sucker came apart at 900 rpm. I found six pieces but one segment I haven't located yet. It cracked at and around the pith...ring shake...and the pieces split at the "lobes." I just stood there, untouched, thinking how dramatic it was.

    You will ocassionally lose pieces to cracking...some while turning and others while they are drying. That's part of the challenge of turning bowls and hollow vessels. Just wear a face shield while turning and listen closely for unusual sounds. Those really dramatic events are usually preceded by a different pitch. DAMHIKT
    Cody


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ABQ NM
    Posts
    30,020
    I've not turned a lot of pieces with the pith still in them, but as Cody said, a lot of nice pieces still have the pith in them, and you can often work around any problems that might come up. And of course, you can still get cracking when there's no pith involved. With woodturning, ya never know.

    At this point in your turning experience, I'd say just turn anything you can safely mount on your lathe. Even the pieces that don't work out will still provide good learning experiences and practice.
    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
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Goodland, Kansas
    Posts
    4,834
    I turn a lot of pieces with the pith in them. With endgrain vases you need to make sure the pith is in the center of the bottom. On bowls I have had the pith in them on the sides. It is best if you can get it about 2/3's of the way up on the bowl on both sides. What I do it before I do any finishing on them I soak the pith and about a 1/2" out from it with thin CA from the outside and inside. After it dries I then do my final cuts. I have one or two here about 2 yrs old and haven't cracked.
    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.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Vernon, WI
    Posts
    230
    Well thanks for the advice everyone I suppose I will keep at it with the pith for a bit. Bandsaw is the next on my list for tools and I should be looking into one very shortly. So until then I'll just keep throwin those logs on my lathe Cody that sounds like an intense moment! Good luck on finding that last piece

  6. #6
    There's a very talented turner that I worked with for over 16 years and didn't know he was a turner, let alone, talented. I've discussed this issue with him. He doesn't use DNA .....he doesn't microwave.....he doesn't boil....but he's very selective about choosing and harvesting the wood he turns. He says "I won't waste my time turning a branch..When you turn branches you are releasing natural stresses built up in the wood due to the limb fighting gravity all of it's natural life...I turn only main stumps" ........and he only harvests wood late fall and through the winter when the sap isn't running and the wood is as naturally dry is it can be and still be alive. He says he has a very high success rate and he has turned with and without the pith. A lot of the splitting about the pith is dependent upon the moisture content of the wood and the type of wood. This is my opinion based on my discussions with this gentleman. I am such a novice turner, I'll turn any free wood just to get the experience. If it splits and I have more of the same wood, I may try something to prevent or reduce it. JMHO.
    Ken
    ------



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Posts
    383

    If it ain't broke.....

    I would say that there really is no reason to concern yourself with changing your methods. No, I personally don't turn with the pith in, but I rarely have had wood that is not split all to heck in the center. Quite frankly, if there isn't a stability issue, then is becomes a matter of preference/aesthetics. Basically, as you gain experience your ideas of what you like to include in your pieces will vary with each blank.....at least that's how I am. So long as safety isn't compromised, do what you like.

    Hutch

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Vernon, WI
    Posts
    230
    Thanks for the advice Ken and Matt. Ken your friend that you speak of sure sounds like he knows what he's getting into. That's pretty crazy (in a good way!) how involved he gets with his wood selection. Obviously his ways have not failed him yet. That's good advice to keep in mind. You are all right about free wood and experimenting! I have a decent selection of free elm and maple in stock. Only time will tell I suppose. I'll try a few things out Thanks again everyone.

Similar Threads

  1. My PITH (Pen in the Hat) swap on IAP
    By Mack Cameron in forum Lathe Project Showcase
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 06-10-2011, 06:01 AM
  2. A 1 piece pen masquerading as a 2 piece pen!
    By Mack Cameron in forum Lathe Project Showcase
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 04-23-2011, 09:12 PM
  3. Controlling the Pith - Turning God's will help
    By Dan Mosley in forum Turning Tool Questions and Show & Tell
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 11-29-2010, 05:05 AM
  4. Replies: 5
    Last Post: 08-17-2009, 10:57 PM
  5. End grain turning with the pith ?
    By Dan Mosley in forum General Woodturning Q&A
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 12-15-2008, 02:21 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •