Opinions on a few woods for turning - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 08-23-2017, 06:55 PM Thread Starter
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Opinions on a few woods for turning

So I have been turning a good number of pieces from 2x2 sticks of redheart from the local wood craft supply store, and I want to branch out (seriously no pun intended lol) and was hoping to get you guys' opinions on which of these turn smoothly. They are the ones from www.woodturnerscatalog.com that I really like. I would love to get opinions on how they turn compared to maple, redheart, purpleheart, and others that have a really fine, closed grain. I'm far from an expert and at this particular time I'd like to stick with turning wood that doesn't challenge me a whole lot. I don't have time right now to attend classes to better myself, and people I've been giving the bottle openers I'm making to LOVE THEM even though they are fairly simple

SO, if anyone has input on how nice the following woods are to turn, I would love to hear it.
Likewise, if anyone would like to suggest a wood that is similar in dashing appearance and is also pleasant to turn, I am very open to ideas! I work on a Delta Midi Lathe with a Nova chuck, mainly using my 70 mm jaws and working with 2x2 inch spindle blanks. I don't have a jig made yet for sharpening bowl gouges, so spindle work is all I do. I just bought a set of the 1 inch jaws. I have 1 inch, 70mm, 100mm, and 130mm

Bolivian Rosewood
Caribbean Rosewood
Cocobolo B Grade
Honduras Redheart
Goncalo Alves
African Olive Wood

Above are the primary woods that I find appealing in appearance and are also affordable for me personally.

Thank you for whatever input you guys provide!

The ones in the photos are spalted maple, purple heart, redeart, and another spalted maple
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Last edited by jonohoff; 08-23-2017 at 06:57 PM.
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post #2 of 14 Old 08-24-2017, 04:58 AM
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Salted maple and red heart are quite good.
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post #3 of 14 Old 08-24-2017, 08:01 AM
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I turn what some local turners call "road kill", wood that can be found/scrounged locally. Not that we can't find some exotic colors in our domestic woods. I have lots of wild color in some plum and locust. I get woods such as black walnut, hackberry, locust, red cedar, mulberry, red maple, poplar and paulownia just for walking out the back door with a saw. As for the exotics, you mention, sorry, can't help. However, I often check a site for the qualities of wood for wood working and so far it has been pretty reliable. http://www.wood-database.com/

We have a local saw mill that cuts wood for skid components mostly. A few times a year, he cuts black walnut/cherry for skids. He has three big cherry logs lined up for cutting right now. The owner gives the cut offs away. I have gotten elm, ash, some various oaks, mulberry, cedar and other woods in chunks about 3x5 and up to 14 inches long. Some is still fairly green and some has been drying for years. I have a 6 x 12 stall in the barn with wood stacked and drying for future use.

There is also a small business furniture factory in town. They give away 4x4 pumpkin crates of cut offs. Mostly hard maple and some with lots of figure. But also teak , black walnut, etc. The problem is that a curved chair arm second is often not thick enough for turning. I did once get a box of what appeared to be rocking chair rails of hard maple. They were ok for small projects. Loved the teak I got. Nice 5x5x2 inch pieces. But they haven't used teak in a couple years.

None of it is exotic, but it is free. The red maple is soft like Bass and easy to turn. Elm was also fairly easy to turn, and it is disappearing. Mulberry turns well and is a medium yellow color. Plum turns easy. Red cedar knots can be difficult. Teak was like butter. Paulownia turns fair and can be turned green with the benefit that it doesn't check as it dries.
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post #4 of 14 Old 08-24-2017, 09:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by holtzdreher View Post
I turn what some local turners call "road kill", wood that can be found/scrounged locally. Not that we can't find some exotic colors in our domestic woods. I have lots of wild color in some plum and locust. I get woods such as black walnut, hackberry, locust, red cedar, mulberry, red maple, poplar and paulownia just for walking out the back door with a saw. As for the exotics, you mention, sorry, can't help. However, I often check a site for the qualities of wood for wood working and so far it has been pretty reliable. http://www.wood-database.com/

We have a local saw mill that cuts wood for skid components mostly. A few times a year, he cuts black walnut/cherry for skids. He has three big cherry logs lined up for cutting right now. The owner gives the cut offs away. I have gotten elm, ash, some various oaks, mulberry, cedar and other woods in chunks about 3x5 and up to 14 inches long. Some is still fairly green and some has been drying for years. I have a 6 x 12 stall in the barn with wood stacked and drying for future use.

There is also a small business furniture factory in town. They give away 4x4 pumpkin crates of cut offs. Mostly hard maple and some with lots of figure. But also teak , black walnut, etc. The problem is that a curved chair arm second is often not thick enough for turning. I did once get a box of what appeared to be rocking chair rails of hard maple. They were ok for small projects. Loved the teak I got. Nice 5x5x2 inch pieces. But they haven't used teak in a couple years.

None of it is exotic, but it is free. The red maple is soft like Bass and easy to turn. Elm was also fairly easy to turn, and it is disappearing. Mulberry turns well and is a medium yellow color. Plum turns easy. Red cedar knots can be difficult. Teak was like butter. Paulownia turns fair and can be turned green with the benefit that it doesn't check as it dries.

Where did you get your hands on paulownia? I've been looking to get my hands on some for some assorted projects.
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post #5 of 14 Old 08-25-2017, 04:11 AM
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Havent done much turning in any of those, but i have found that the Rosewood family turns beautifully. Ive not found any major difference in country of origin when it comes to turning, and its also worth mentioning that Cocobolo is in that same family

I need cheaper hobby
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post #6 of 14 Old 08-25-2017, 05:40 AM
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Weebeewoodworker: Some folks near here planted a few groves of pawlownia. Since then, the stuff comes up wild in fence rows, etc. I have two at the far end of the property. One was cut off about 5 years ago and the suckers that came up developed into new trees. Stuff grows like wildfire once established. probably 5 feet a year.
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post #7 of 14 Old 08-25-2017, 07:47 AM Thread Starter
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Any thoughts on Goncalo Alves and olive wood? Thanks for the replies!
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post #8 of 14 Old 08-25-2017, 09:48 AM
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Roadkill wood is nice since it is free. Also, make contact with tree services as to what they will be cutting down. I have some Bradford pear that is shouting to be turned into something other than firewood.
Edit: Make sure you tools are very sharp, even to the point of scary sharp, no matter what wood you are turning.
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post #9 of 14 Old 08-27-2017, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not bashing road-kill wood by any means and I admire guys who can turn it into art but personally, I turn infrequently enough that I would rather splurge and spend a few dollars on blanks that I really like. It used to sting when I was new enough that I was scraping half of the blanks, but I haven't scrapped one in over a month now, so I'm going to stick with purchased hardwood.


Just out of curiosity, how long do you have to let a piece of road kill sit to dry before it will turn nicely?
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post #10 of 14 Old 09-01-2017, 04:54 PM
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Olive wood turns nicely and looks really cool. I didn't know any better when I first used it and later realized that the pieces I'd gotten had been very wet. I turned a peppermill and after I put it together, it went out of round and developed cracks as it dried. The way to avoid this is to regularly weigh your blanks. Whey they stop losing weight they've reached the same moisture content as the space around them.

The grain in Cocobolo is stupendous, but the shavings are very irritating. Be sure to wear breathing protection (you should always anyway)

You didn't mention it, but one of my faves is Claro walnut.
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post #11 of 14 Old 09-14-2017, 06:26 AM
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I love turning green beech, ash and cherry.

If I want to give myself a good workout then I usually mount up a big chunk of oak!
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post #12 of 14 Old 09-15-2017, 07:54 AM
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Olive wood turns sooo easy. The cream color and grain are beautiful. It takes a shine very well.
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post #13 of 14 Old 09-15-2017, 09:42 AM
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Red Maple turns a lot like Bass, almost like butter. Small diameter pieces like 3 to 4 inches are ready to turn after about 6 to 8 months air drying here (we have a pretty humid climate with humidity usually above 50% and regularly at 80 to 100%. I have black walnut in the barn that has been drying for about 18 months and is now about ready. Last November, I turned some apple branches, about 4 inches in diameter and they were cut off the tree in April and stored in the barn for 5 months. None of those mentioned turnings checked or cracked So far I mostly turn small ornaments for charity and tops are three inches thick. Most are around two inches. The saw mill cut offs are varying degrees of green and have to be sorted
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post #14 of 14 Old 09-15-2017, 11:55 AM
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Your spalted maple doesn't look very spalted. Is it stabilized?
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