Problem turning "Willow" bowl blank UPDATED with PICS

Tom Baugues

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Lafayette, Indiana
I got home from work today and while out in my garage I suddenly got the urge to turn on my big Delta lathe. I have not used it in about 3 years. So after a short time checking out the lathe and cleaning down the rails I was ready to go. I remember starting a bowl a while back so I set out to find it. I found a brown paper bag under my workbench with the bowl blank still inside. The bag was dated by me as "Willow" 7-25-2011. That must have been when I roughed out this blank then placed into the bag to dry. It's been 3 years and it seems pretty dry now! :eek::thumb:. It was pretty warped but I placed it back onto the lathe and started it spinning. Seems that all my tools could use a good sharpening too.
Anyway....I have the outside pretty much as I want it so I started to work on the inside. There seems to be this 3-4 inch long section near the rim that is much harder material than the rest and I just cant seem to get it to smooth out like the rest of the inside. This can be seen near the lower right section near the rim.
So my question is......how do I deal with real hard sections of a bowl blank. Is it just a matter of having ultra sharp tools or is it a common problem and I just don't know how to deal with it. Sure felt good to be making shavings again.
 

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Carol Reed

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Coolidge, AZ
Compare the density numbers here
http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/wood-density-d_40.html

You will see willow is not particularly dense so that will cause some issues that require surgical sharp cutters. Compare it to say, maple. As for the hard spot, may be dried resin from sitting for a few years. No solution unless you turn it away.

Looking like you have a nice shape working though.

You really need to visit your lathe more often, Tom. :rolleyes:
 

Jim Burr

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Reno, Nv
Willow is famous for being soft and prone to tear out. Couple of thoughts...approach the inside of the bowl with a shear cut presentation; a carbide will have no better luck. Think about a really thick scraper, thicker means less chatter...less chatter means more control and less tear out. One more thing...don't be afraid of the 80 grit gouge!!
 

Tom Baugues

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Lafayette, Indiana
Thank you Carol, Terry and Jim for the suggestions.

Well it's off the lathe now getting finish applied. Photos will come in another day or two after all the finish is applied. Tear out was indeed an issue and hard to deal with. I was able to smooth out the "hard" area with my "80 grit gouge" as Jim suggested. I sharpened my tools and slowed down the lathe a bit near the end and indeed took very light cuts. The wood is very dry and I think the finished results will be....just ok. One area on the inside of the bowl continued to splinter no matter how much I cut or sanded, so I smoothed it the best I could and went on. Hopefully the finish will harden on it then I might be able to go back and sand it smoother and refinish. Well for a bowl that was 3 years in the making......well......we will see.
It does have me more excited to get out and use the lathe more. I have stockpiled a large stash of wood for this use. Not sure I even remember what it all is now. Enough for now.
 

Vaughn McMillan

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Sounds like this one was just another bump in the lathe-learning road, Tom. The form looks nice, despite any hiccups you might have had getting a clean cut. Glad to see this one has inspired you to get the lathe dirty some more. :thumb: Willow is not easy wood to cut cleanly, and as has been mentioned, sharp tools are a must. And quite honestly, what a lot of turners think is "sharp" isn't really all that sharp. A lot of guys, particularly the less experienced ones, have never really seen or felt a truly sharp turning tool. And then again, there are some pieces of wood that just won't cut cleanly. ;)

Looking forward to seeing more stuff from your lathe. :thumb:
 

Stuart Ablett

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Tokyo Japan
Sounds like a bear of a piece to turn.

Look, there is a lot more wood out there, heck it grows on trees you know! :D

Don't sweat it if this one just becomes a learning opportunity, I know I've certainly gone that route a few times.

Don't spend way too much time trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, if you know what I mean, give it a go, and then move on.

Cheers!
 

Vaughn McMillan

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...Oh well...time to move on to next one...
Sometimes that's the best way to handle a problematic chunk of wood, Tom. :thumb: And any piece turned has value...you can take the lessons learned on this one (such as how sucky willow is to turn) and apply them to the next. ;)
 
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