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Making the bowl rough-outs

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. I turned away most of the wormy part. The dust extractor helped a lot – I could see a plume of dust and debris coming off the tool and going up the extractor pipe. I put them in a bag and microwaved them until they were too hot to touch. This 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 logs that I first thought to be sycamore and showed one of them 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. I wrongly identified it because of the bark and white sapwood, plus the fact that a lot of the wood at the dump is sycamore. 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.

marking common in apple wood
Markings 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. When they died, 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. It’s a hard timber, and is related to 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. I shall turn them away when I reverse the blank for hollowing. You can see also the small spigot on the bottom that I will grip in the chuck when hollowing.

bowl rough-out
Bowl rough-out

Below is the second bowl. The colour is spectacular, but you can clearly see a bark inclusion in the wall of the bowl. With any luck, this bowl will finish well and end up on my bowl sales page.

making a bowl rough-out
Bowl rough-out in progress



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