A couple of days ago I wrote about a new lot of timber that I made into bowl blanks. I didn’t have time to complete the bowl rough-outs yesterday as planned, but I did rough out some cones from the heavily spalted sycamore. I had to scrap some of it as it was too degraded, and even the ones I am keeping have some dubious bits in them, but I hope when dry at least some of them will be good enough to finish. The wood is porous and should dry quickly. The cone shape shows off the spalt patterns very well. A couple of the blanks were wormy. Most of the wormy part was turned away, and I was glad of the dust extractor – I could see a plume of dust and debris coming off the tool and going up the extractor pipe. When they were done, I put them in a bag and microwaved them until they were too hot to touch, which ought to kill off any remaining insects. I did the roughing with a skew chisel today, for the practice.
On to making the bowl rough-outs, a stage I always enjoy. I wrote about dark-hearted sycamore and showed one of the logs opened up. The trouble with getting logs from the dump is that I cannot always be sure what they are. I’ve never seen sycamore with colour like this before, but the bark and white sapwood, plus the fact that a lot of the wood at the dump is sycamore, misled me. When I started the turning it was immediately clear that this wood isn’t sycamore at all. It’s too hard, it smells different and the grain in the sapwood is not the same. In one or two places it had the little arrow/mushroom shapes in the wood that are common in apple wood. This is not apple wood, judging by the bark. I think it is probably whitebeam. Whitebeam is not a common tree, but as it happens I have turned quite a lot of it – at one time there were whitebeams growing as street trees in the road where I live, and when they died and were cut down, I was able to keep some of the wood. It had the same white sapwood and dark brown heartwood with an even darker line between them, is hard, and is related to the apple.
Unfortunately, a couple of the blanks turned out to have a bark inclusion that weakened the wood. A chunk broke off one during the turning (A good thing I was wearing a face shield and had the lathe speed low), so the five bowls I was hoping for are now just three. The other two I shall salvage for spindles.
Here is the first bowl after turning the outer surface. The groove near the rim marks the extent of some heart cracks that will be turned away when the blank is reversed for hollowing. You can see also the small spigot on the bottom that will be gripped in the chuck when hollowing.