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Making bowl blanks

Today I looked in at the tree surgeon’s dump where I often get timber. I came away with two logs of what I thought was sycamore with dark heart staining due to early spalting, but turned out not to be sycamore. I don’t know what it is. There was also a log of plain sycamore, suitable for salad bowls, but without any figure, and a log of heavily spalted sycamore. Much of it should be excellent for making bowl blanks.

There was a whole tree-trunk’s worth of the heavily spalted stuff, and the standing dead tree must have been dangerous. A wind would have brought it down. I was in two minds whether to bother with the spalted log, because most of the sections at the dump were very wormy, and some patches turning to mush. I also brought away a couple of small bits of yew, just slender trunks with lots of side branches, too small for bowls.

Back home, I sawed the yew into quarters that I hope will do for small spindles.

yew log after sawing
Yew log after sawing

Next were the dark-heart logs. Using my bandsaw, I split the logs down the middle. Inside, a revelation! Streaks of yellow, brown and pink running right through the wood like lettering in seaside rock. I cut most of it into bowl blanks, but saved some for spindles. Here is one of the logs before and after cutting.

log ready to saw
Log ready to saw

figure revealed after sawing
Figure revealed after sawing

One of the reasons why I like woodturning.

Then it was the turn of the plain sycamore. This log had a heart shake (a central split), so I marked the cuts so the bandsaw would cut through the shake. It is tricky to cut out cracks like this, or the centre of the log, so if necessary the crack and centre will be turned away on the lathe tomorrow. Three bowl blanks from this log.

sycamore log marked for sawing
Sycamore log marked for cutting


Finally, the heavily spalted chunk. It was just too high on the saw table to fit under the saw guides, so I split the log with hammer and wedges. That enabled me to trim the ends a little with the bandsaw, then stand the pieces on end on the saw table. I made one bowl blank that I hope will be not too wormy, but the rest I cut into spindle blanks. I shall use them to make some decorative wooden cones as the spalting should look really good.

Here is the pile of bowl blanks, sawn into discs, waiting for rough turning tomorrow. You can see the colours in the wood. I hope the bowls survive drying.

bowl blanks
Bowl blanks ready to turn



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