Blank Requirements for Turning

kelLOGg

Bob
Senior User
I have lots of ash branches from 6 to 20" diameter. Of course the pith is off center since they are branches. Can such be used to turn bowls? Comments needed and welcome.
 

chris_goris

Chris
Senior User
O f course they can... but dont try to use "cookie" slices for turning. Cut the limbs in piece lengths that match the diameter, split them down the center and cut a circular blank on a bandsaw using the split face as surface on the bandsaw table.
 

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kelLOGg

Bob
Senior User
Thanks for that drawing - I think I understand. So the location of the pith really doesn't matter?
 

Oka

Casey
Corporate Member
No, not unless there is an esthetic reason for the grain to be centered.
 

awldune

Sam
User
You should split on the pith or ideally remove it altogether. If you split with a chainsaw, the wide kerf will take care of it.

The blanks should be a little longer than the diameter of the log, so that some of the end checking can be cut off (unless the bowls will be turned immediately).

All that being said, it ain't rocket science and a blank made the wrong way will just yield a smaller and/or shallower bowl.
 

SabertoothBunny

SabertoothBunny
User
If the wood is green it is especially important that the pith come out or it will split and crack up the blanks. If the diameter of the limb is 20", then the maximum depth may be 8-10" thick because of pith removal. However, part of the pith can be left in if you are turning it green and removing it through turning. Just make sure to get all of it or the area it is located will likely crack. If you want bark on the bowl roughing it green is the best option for that. You can also get some spindle blanks or pen blanks out of those limbs to increase the usable haul and reduce waste. Pen blanks are best at 3/4-1" square by about 5-5 1/4" long and spindle length varies based on what you have but those can start at 1" square and go up from there.

Chainsaws, as mentioned, will remove most of the pith but at the same time the pith is rarely, if ever, in a strait line so cutting exact center won't always get it all out. Bandsaws are another great tool to use to cut the blanks down as well. I wouldn't worry about grain alignment so much while cutting blanks, each piece will speak for itself when finished. Make sure to seal the bowl blanks whether they are rough turned or not. It will help reduce the checking/cracking. Do this as you cut groups up because if you wait too long the blanks will start cracking as they begin to dry. I know I have trouble getting to turning and cutting green blanks as quickly as I want too. AnchorSeal or AnchorSeal II will be fine for that.

I actually have some wild black "rum" cherry trees and persimmon (I think) that were cut down in my yard I desperately want to get too cutting up but been working overtime and still have a family to take care of. Such is life, I hope to get some blanks out of those before I lose it all.
 

kelLOGg

Bob
Senior User
Since the "logs" I have are branches the pith is off center, so when I cut at the pith one blank will be larger and make larger bowl. Right?
The comments have been encouraging so I am off to the next step - finding someone whom I can pay to turn bowls. I will start a new thread on this to catch more eyes.
 

SabertoothBunny

SabertoothBunny
User
Since the "logs" I have are branches the pith is off center, so when I cut at the pith one blank will be larger and make larger bowl. Right?
The comments have been encouraging so I am off to the next step - finding someone whom I can pay to turn bowls. I will start a new thread on this to catch more eyes.
Yes and no for the blank size honestly. So in a limb with an offset pith, cutting it out may get a really nice bowl blank but enough for a spindle blank but not necessarily another bowl blank. Just gotta play with it and do what you can and not be discouraged over what may be "lost" in the cutting process. Just focus on getting some nice bowl blanks as you can't save it all. Maybe consider learning to but the bowl blanks yourself, not many places around that truly understand how to get the most out of cutting bowl blanks as they focus on and know slabs and dimensional wood which isn't quite the same thing.
 

chris_goris

Chris
Senior User
You can leave the pith in when turning, once the log is split, It will no longer want to split as it dries. If you turn it green, "rough" turn your bowl shape to achieve a 10 percent wall thickness. 10 percent meaning, if your bowl is 10" diamter, rought it to 1" thick, let it dry, then finish, 5", .5" thick etc..
 

kelLOGg

Bob
Senior User
I will not be turning any blanks. I’ll explain. The tree grew in an urban setting (E. Main St, Durham for Durhamites) at my church and began dropping 1 ft dia branches late last year on the sidewalk and street. It had to come down for safety reasons. It was a huge landmark tree and many were upset at its loss. To commemorate the tree we want to make (or have made) items that can be used in the church and bowls, cookies, tables and the like came to mind. The trunk is 4 ft dia and at the crotch 7 ft up it was 6 ft wide. The branches were gnarly (some found it eerie) and not much straightness to them. I have the branches at my sawmill and the trunk is at another property until we decide what we want from it. I have contacted Scott Smith for his ability to saw it when needed. I appreciate all the responses reassuring me that bowls are a possibility and even though success with some of them is iffy there is a lot to choose from. Many of us are sending out feelers in the community to see what resources are available for bowl turning.
 

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Henry W

HenryW
Senior User
... finding someone whom I can pay to turn bowls. ....
Bob:
Knowing what you might want from these will be the key. Are these going to be art pieces on display? Or functional pieces?

In our church we use large platters and bowls all the time for serving food (pre-pandemic times!); these are predominantly glass or plastic. Having more decorative or meaningful pieces for other times might be appreciated - although the care of wood items items has to be considered (i.e don't run through the dishwasher).

Art or display pieces? Need to know if there are any constraints of the anticipated display space (cabinet or shelf size?).
 

Hmerkle

Hank
Corporate Member
Bob,
PLEASE make sure you get them sealed.
Best product: Anchor seal
Next best: heavy wax (like gulf wax melted)
Next: latex paint, but you need to keep coming back and adding layers and they will still likely crack

The less cracking you can get, the less loss you have of the original material (and options for the turner or ??? woodworker)

another suggestion is pens - you can "thin slab" 5/4 (1 1/2") some of the weird pieces (esp. too small to do something else with) can become pen blanks... This yields LOTS of "end products / momentos for people...

BUT as a sawyer you well know, it is going to take some time for the wood to dry for items like pen blanks or other dimensional type items...
I am sure you know all this, but just in case you didn't...
 

kelLOGg

Bob
Senior User
They will be functional pieces, perhaps offering plates, tables, benches.

I plan to leave the branches as is until we hire turners. For those of you who sell your turnings what can we expect to pay for a turned and finished bowl? I plan to cut the blanks at the time the turner needs it. As for sealing, I assume it should be sealed just after cutting into blanks as a sawyer would do to a log.
 

SabertoothBunny

SabertoothBunny
User
I will happily make bowls, trivets, platters, rolling pins, pens, or such items at no cost. If a project requires hardware covering the cost of that is all I would ask. Turning is just something I enjoy and the process of turning something and seeing the finished product is reward enough for me at this stage.

It is a joy just to make stuff and at this point and don't care about getting anything in return. The big thing to consider is green versus dry wood with the turning.
 

kelLOGg

Bob
Senior User
SB,

That is a most generous offer. I will be in touch with you when the church decides what items we want. I have notified appropriate people so hopefully a decision will be forthcoming. I will communicate with you via PM to discuss where and how to go from here.

Bob
 

kelLOGg

Bob
Senior User
Sabertooth and Mike Davis,

We have gotten in touch with Chapel Hill Wood Turners and they have agreed to turn our ash limbs into bowls. They are a group of 50 turners who are very nearby and can do the whole lot (up to what we can afford). So we are underway with them.

We really appreciate your offer to turn some of these bowls.

Bob
 

Dee2

Gene
Corporate Member
Yes. Make some vases. Turn the walls thin. Have some epoxy on hand to fill the cracks. Find a suitable drying regime by trial and error. Think of it as free wood and skill building. If you get a keeper out of it, you've gotten a bonus.
 

SabertoothBunny

SabertoothBunny
User
Sabertooth and Mike Davis,

We have gotten in touch with Chapel Hill Wood Turners and they have agreed to turn our ash limbs into bowls. They are a group of 50 turners who are very nearby and can do the whole lot (up to what we can afford). So we are underway with them.

We really appreciate your offer to turn some of these bowls.

Bob
Fair enough. Just let me know if there is anything beyond what they are doing that you may need help with.
 

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