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post #1 of 10 Old 03-19-2011, 04:09 PM Thread Starter
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New bowls, finally

After a nasty incident a month or so ago where I jabbed a chisel down to the bone on my left index finger, I'm finally back to turning. This is 3 days worth.

All the bowls are sycamore, the biggest is 13.5" x 7.75" tall, for reference. This wood is terrible. No matter how light the shear cuts, it's ALWAYS chunky. So, I just "finish" turned them, letting what little moisture is in them dry so i can just sand them with a foam backed pad. I can say with surety that I will never turn sycamore again after I'm done with my other logs. I have a few more huge bowls to go though, before I'm done.

Picked up a 18" x 15" or so cherry burl yesterday, along with some straight cherry logs, so what's between centers is a hollow form for the tree giver. Never been able to turn a HF between centers out of cherry without a crack, ever. BUT, I am determined to win, haha. I have the CA glue at hand....i'll post a pic if it works, or maybe even if it cracks.
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post #2 of 10 Old 03-19-2011, 09:43 PM
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Looking good. I like turning sycamore, maybe we have different types. I always turns well as seems rather stable. What part of the country you from?

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post #3 of 10 Old 03-19-2011, 10:04 PM
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All the bowls are sycamore, the biggest is 13.5" x 7.75" tall, for reference..
That must have been some log to get that big of blank out of. I'm currently trying to get that large of blanks (for when I get skilled enough to turn them) out of some walnut I have. Also, how did your lathe handle that large of bowl? Mine's approximately the same size and I was just wondering.

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so what's between centers is a hollow form for the tree giver. Never been able to turn a HF between centers out of cherry without a crack, ever. BUT, I am determined to win, haha. I have the CA glue at hand....i'll post a pic if it works, or maybe even if it cracks.
I'd be interested in seeing the finished hollow form. Looks good. I'm new to turning, is cherry hard to turn? Is cracking a problem with the species?
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post #4 of 10 Old 03-20-2011, 12:03 AM Thread Starter
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@slatron25, I live in the southeast, up on Lookout Mountain. It's just regular old sycamore with the peeling bark. My primary gripe when it was green was 3 HF's in a row turned on center that popped from top to bottom. While bowls are fun to turn, and small spindle type stuff, it's not really what I enjoy most, and that seems to be what this wood is good for, not tall HF's. Secondly, as these logs have sat here for over a year, the sapwood dried out completely. There's no moisture in it at all. But the reddish heartwood still slings water everywhere. It's sapwood has the consistency of styrofoam, and it will not cut clean with any of my gouges in the shear scrape position, nor with my dedicated shear scraper (sorby). It is pretty though, with all of it's spalting. I'll post pics when they're finished.

@djg, These logs are about 18" or so diameter. If i could make a suggestion, it's way safer to leave the wood in log form, than it is to cut blanks out and let them sit, even with wax. If they're just gonna sit for a few days that's one thing, but otherwise, you're running the risk of each blank possibly checking over time, when if you left in the log, only the ends would check somewhat, and you could just cut out what you needed, and save on wax too. (last year, approximately 3 complete trees were ruined using the method of cutting out the blanks first, and i was out a lot of wax)

Anyways, about the lathe

It is a rather small lathe, but I see no need to ever turn anything over my 14.5" max. That's really big for a usable bowl, and a hollow form at that size is not something i'm interested in. With that said, I've upgraded the motor to a 3hp DC motor, it weighs in at 98lbs and is over 2' long overkill. If you look at the lathe box, you can see my motor controller mounted to it. Without a true variable speed, I could not do larger work like this. Other than that, if you have variable speed and a decent sized motor, it's no problem. Just like turning a small bowl, only bigger, and takes longer. The lathe came with a 3/4hp AC motor with a reeves drive, and it's lowest speed was around 600rpm, i think. Doesn't matter what it was, cause it was too fast for anything that was out of round. I now can start out as slow as i want to, and with the step pulleys I installed in the headstock and the motor spindles, I get maximum torque from the motor even at the lowest speeds.

And about cherry, in my experience, it is certainly prone to cracking. Within seconds of cutting every single tree, it has begun to check, and if not worked fairly quickly, the log will continue to split from one end to the other. robert421960 just posted some pics of a log with this same problem. I've had about 8 trees so far, from different places, and of different ages, and they've all been like that. It is a hard wood too, and turns great, imo. Bowls or HF's cut like butter. (really hard butter, haha)

whew, i'm outta bref
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post #5 of 10 Old 03-20-2011, 10:26 AM
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These logs are about 18" or so diameter.
I don't mean to dispute you, but isn't that kind of hard to do? I'm cutting 24" - 30" dia. logs just off center (to remove pith) and am having trouble getting that diameter and depth of blank. (see below). But I'm dealing with 2" of sapwood too.

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If i could make a suggestion, it's way safer to leave the wood in log form, than it is to cut blanks out and let them sit, even with wax. If they're just gonna sit for a few days that's one thing, but otherwise, you're running the risk of each blank possibly checking over time, when if you left in the log, only the ends would check somewhat, and you could just cut out what you needed, and save on wax too. (last year, approximately 3 complete trees were ruined using the method of cutting out the blanks first, and i was out a lot of wax)
I was going to ask the same thing. As I said I'm working on a pile of large Walnut that I can't possibly use right away or the near future. I was just going to cut into sections like shown below and seal with a double coat of Anchorseal. But I did this last year with Red Oak and it split from one end to the other along the bark side several inches deep. Still some usable wood, just not as large. Maybe I should still cut and seal them like I've been doing, just store inside the woods (up off the ground) where they'll be in the shade all the time. Don't know if this will help with Summer's heat though.

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It is a rather small lathe, but I see no need to ever turn anything over my 14.5" max...... With that said, I've upgraded the motor to a 3hp DC motor, ......The lathe came with a 3/4hp AC motor
I thought so. Mine is just 3/4 HP and I think it would be under powered for such a large blank

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And about cherry, in my experience, it is certainly prone to cracking. Within seconds of cutting every single tree, it has begun to check, and if not worked fairly quickly, the log will continue to split from one end to the other. robert421960 just posted some pics of a log with this same problem. I've had about 8 trees so far, from different places, and of different ages, and they've all been like that.
Again I don't mean to dispute you, but isn't this contrary to the advice you gave above about leaving whole is better? Or is this just for cherry?
Thanks and I didn't mean to still your thread.
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post #6 of 10 Old 03-20-2011, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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The pith on my logs are nearly all the way to one side, so I can have really deep bowls, and get to use about a little over 2/3 of each piece, otherwise, they would be much shallower. I have some logs like that too, but i've saved the biggest for last Here is one, as you can see, it's way more than 2" sapwood, the bowls in my pic are all sapwood except a tiny bit by the rim. Yes, the end looks disgusting and cracked, but it only goes back a couple of inches into the log on either side, so I can still get 3 big bowls out of this log. If i had cut it into sections, each section would look like this on the ends and be useless but for firewood.

I left all the logs about 4ft long, and it's worked out well. (except for cherry)

My cherry logs, seem to split no matter what I do, short, long, round, square, etc. I just have to work them while they are green, and keep the CA glue handy.

After my experiences over the years with cutting logs slightly longer than the diameter, to give them some room to check and still have a usable blank, I've realized a better way, which is to just leave them really long and whole, and seal up the ends of those. (this sycamore is outside and in the nastness so it would spalt). In my experience, cutting the logs shorter results in each blank having a set of checks on either side, when it COULD be a huge log with the same checks on either end, but with more workable wood between the ends when I need it.
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post #7 of 10 Old 03-20-2011, 01:49 PM
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Thanks for your advice. Since I don't have any immediate plans for the wood, it make the decision part a little easier. I'm still going to have to halve the pieces just so I can move them; some of them are pretty large. If I let them set too long, the owner may push them on his burn pile.
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post #8 of 10 Old 03-20-2011, 02:21 PM Thread Starter
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haha, that would be a travesty indeed! Burning walnut should be banned, lol.

Yeah, not only does keeping the logs long help you save more wood, it's less work for one day. Moving those things are tough, and yours sounds horrible to move around, at 30" and green. I had help to move all this sycamore. I could get 3 logs into my yota before the shocks were bottoming out. But we just leaned them against the tailgate while it was down, and picked up the other end to slide it in. It was rough though.

Good luck!
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post #9 of 10 Old 03-20-2011, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
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oh yeah, looks like you should be able to get a 10" tall bowl out of that piece. That would be wonderful to own!
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post #10 of 10 Old 03-20-2011, 04:07 PM
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haha, that would be a travesty indeed! Burning walnut should be banned, lol.
You know this is some of that "Highly Valuable Black Walnut" was a point of discussion in the "Forestry/Milling" section. Sorry I just couldn't resist, the thread was too funny. Just goes to show you how little of value it is until it's acturally turned into something and the amount of work involved.

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That would be wonderful to own!
Are you offering to help with the rest of the pile, I'll give you half!
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