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Making a wooden bowl from Kennington sycamore

Making wooden bowls is the turning I most enjoy. The wood for today’s job came from a dead tree that grew in the garden of an old house in Kennington. I didn’t see the tree standing, but the owner said it was a sycamore. As I turned it, I thought it might be maple, which has a darker tan colour. The standing trees are similar in appearance. Later though, after turning more pieces, I concluded that it is sycamore after all. I’m still not certain – different parts of the tree could almost be different varieties! A tree surgeon cut the tree down and saved the log sections for me.

At first I wasn’t sure how good the timber would be for making a wooden bowl. But it soon revealed some nice early spalting, with all sorts of staining, and some ripple grain. I converted it into some quite large bowl blanks and made the rough-outs. They have been drying for months. I think they are ready now, so made this one to see how they turn out.

I roughed out the shape of the bowl with thick walls, so it could dry without splitting but leave enough thickness to re-turn it. All have survived the drying intact, which is not always the case!

Then, when dry, they go back on the lathe for final turning. I do the outside first. Next, I reverse the bowl on the chuck and turn the inside.

Now the bowl is ready for finishing. Several coats of Liberon Finishing Oil, then buffing and waxing. It will be several days before this is complete. The bare wood looks quite dry and dull at  present but the oil will bring the grain and colour to life. I am looking forward to seeing the bowl with a polished surface. It will be a fine fruit bowl.


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