Sourwood

TBoomz

Ron
User
Has anyone turned sourwood? Have noticed that at base of many sourwood trees the wood bulges out rounded like a burl with lots of "projections?" across surface. Looks kinda like a burl; would make nice looking bowls. Easy or hard to turn? Any particular technique? The lathe is the only tool in my shop I've never used. [inherited]. My Dad had it set up for spindle making when he made grandfather clocks. So, I don't have any chucks for bowls. Recommendations on a good basic chuck to buy for turning bowls...
 

SabertoothBunny

SabertoothBunny
User
Can you share photos of the bulges at the base of the tree? I have heard it turns pretty well, can have an appearance similar to maple or ash with some "character", whatever that means I'm not sure. Suppose to turn pretty well.

Nova chucks are pretty much universal and reliable tools that won't break the bank.

I for one would be interested in getting some of the sourwood from you should the tree come down to try as I have never worked with or turned it before.
 
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bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Wood Database shows the wood of a sourwood tree to be about like cherry in hardness and weight, but a whole lot more shrinkage. Maybe for lidded vessels, it wouldn't be such a good choice, but for other things, it should turn just fine.

Because of this high shrinkage, it would be best to rough turn the bowls immediately after sawing down the tree, then letting them warp and dry, sealing the end grain of the roughed out bowl. It would be a shame to waste the wood by letting it crack and check while in log form.

Good chuck for bowls? Super easy answer: Oneway brand. Good cheap chuck for bowls? No idea.
 
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HLW

Harold
User
Has anyone turned sourwood? Have noticed that at base of many sourwood trees the wood bulges out rounded like a burl with lots of "projections?" across surface. Looks kinda like a burl; would make nice looking bowls. Easy or hard to turn? Any particular technique? The lathe is the only tool in my shop I've never used. [inherited]. My Dad had it set up for spindle making when he made grandfather clocks. So, I don't have any chucks for bowls. Recommendations on a good basic chuck to buy for turning bowls
Has anyone turned sourwood? Have noticed that at base of many sourwood trees the wood bulges out rounded like a burl with lots of "projections?" across surface. Looks kinda like a burl; would make nice looking bowls. Easy or hard to turn? Any particular technique? The lathe is the only tool in my shop I've never used. [inherited]. My Dad had it set up for spindle making when he made grandfather clocks. So, I don't have any chucks for bowls. Recommendations on a good basic chuck to buy for turning bowls...
I turn sourwood quite often, usually with a natural edge. It's has a rough looking bark and it really turns out very nice for a natural edge bowl. I find the wood quite easy to turn and when finished it looks very pretty. Give it a try, I don't think you'll be disappointed
 

Mrfixit71

Board of Directors, Treasurer
Rich
Staff member
Corporate Member
Sourwood is one of my favorites to turn. I turn mostly green blanks, and I twice turn them, and they are easy to turn. I often get great variation in grain pattern and colors vary from light to dark browns, grays, greens.
 

Dee2

Gene
Corporate Member
It is possible, and sometimes preferred, to turn bowls without a chuck. A face plate of some sort is helpful.
 

walnutjerry

Jerry
Senior User
Has anyone turned sourwood? Have noticed that at base of many sourwood trees the wood bulges out rounded like a burl with lots of "projections?" across surface. Looks kinda like a burl; would make nice looking bowls. Easy or hard to turn? Any particular technique? The lathe is the only tool in my shop I've never used. [inherited]. My Dad had it set up for spindle making when he made grandfather clocks. So, I don't have any chucks for bowls. Recommendations on a good basic chuck to buy for turning bowls...
I just recently roughed turned some bowls from sourwood. I thought it turned really good. Also processed some pieces to make dough bowls which I wrapped in brown paper and put back to dry a while. Lots of chucks on the market----I have a one-way, a Barracuda from Penn State (both are 4 jaw chucks) and a Grizzly 3 jaw with reversing jaws. Just google it and you will find a gang of chucks.
 

emichael

eric
User
I had a largish sourwood get uprooted and I made turned parts for three rocking chairs from it. Before that I had only turned carving mallets and mauls for my froe from sourwood so this was a chance to try something different. I cut it in the winter and rived it into oversize blanks the same day. The wood is slightly interlocked, so the parts of the tree I got around to some weeks later were harder to split.

Over the next few days after I split them out I turned the blanks round and set them aside to dry before final turning. The shrinkage was definitely high. The parts I split out for splats and back rails twisted a good bit, too.

It turns fine, and it steam bends well. The problem I had was finishing. It took dye very unevenly and the grain is so subtle it disappears under a wiping stain or glaze. I solved most of that blotchiness by gluesizing after sanding to 220 grit. Even so, it's not a very pretty wood. The lower part of the log had some flame-like figure that I am not a good enough finisher to take advantage of. That being said, a good finisher could probably get a decent plain maple-like result.

In addition to the "bumps" sourwood trees have a lot of bends in their branches and trunk that might make some interesting curved parts.
 

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