Thursday, 7 July 2011

Practice makes perfect, well almost ... ...

Since I've had my lathe I've been trying to get my hands on interesting bits of wood, for a couple of reasons, mainly because each type of wood is different in terms of how it looks when it's made into something, whether it's turned or carved.

But apart from the aesthetics of the wood I've been learning that each wood behaves very differently when you stick it on a lathe, there are factors like age of the wood, how long it's been sitting about before you turn it and such like.

Take these 3 items, all of which I've turned on my lathe, using the same tools and same techniques.

From left to right, Pear,Ash (or maybe Oak) and Spalted Birch.
I turned the Spalted Birch candle stick a while ago, but had to wait to see if I could stop it warping and cracking before I sealed it, it's now had a coat of sealer and a good polish. If you look at the top of the Birch candle stick you can see where it's warped a little, this is mainly due to the thickness of the wood, it's quite thin.

I got the Birch from a chap who lives down the road from me, he's had a load of Birch logs in his drive way for ages, so I asked him for some (he intends to use it in a log burner, a waste if you ask me) I got a length about 8 feet long in the end, I still have quite a bit left. What's good about it is that because it was chopped down a while a go it's okay to turn, although it may still warp a little.

Here's the Birch one, it's called Spalted birch because of the way the grain has gone, the dark ragged lines are caused by a fungus, the lighter patches are also a result of the same fungus.

The Birch candle stick (probably the first of many) 
I was pleased with it, even wrote a blog post about it ;-)
The next thing is made from the off cut of a fence post, a few weeks ago we went to visit relatives and on the way there a couple of workmen were fitting new gates to a house, so on the way back I asked for the offcut, I'm still not 100% sure what sort of wood it is, but either way it made a nice candle stick.
Here it is - 

It's either Oak or some kind of Ash.

I have to be perfectly honest I'm not sure what this is, I should have asked the workmen, as I've mentioned it's either Oak or Ash, although as it was part of a fence post I suspect it's Oak, never known anyone to use Ash as fence posts, but I could be wrong.

This was interesting to turn as the wood had been dried before hand (probably kiln dried) and as such it was a very different experience, I was hoping to get it a little larger but it kept loosing parts where the wood had shrunk, in the end I decided I would keep going until it stopped loosing bits and although it's quite small I love the grain in it, even more so as it was destined for the bin being an offcut.

Here's a different view of it - 
Stripey :-)
The last thing I have to show you is a small goblet, yes not another candlestick but a goblet, although it's not any good for drinking out of because of the way it's warping and cracking.

The goblet - 

Made from part of a 60 year old Pear tree.

Yes this too is made from rescued wood, although I'd have to admit I was the one who cut the tree down, in my defence it was in some one's garden and they had offered it on free-cycle, if I didn't take it, it would have been burned. It's lovely wood, but very green and it maybe some time before it's really ready for turning.

I just couldn't wait, it's been sitting in my shed for months and the other day a chopped a small piece off and stuck it on my lathe, and as with the other items it was again an interesting experience, being green wood it's very soft (even though Pear wood is quite hard) and because it's green wood it's still quite wet, which means depending on the way it's kept it may or may not crack and warp, if it's kept in a dry warm environment it will probably crack, and that's what has started to happen with the goblet, whether it will get to a point and stop I don't know, Eucalyptus wood is the same if not worse.

It's an interesting learning curve, but one I'm enjoying and even though some of the things I make suffer from warping or cracking it is a little sad because I spent the time on it, but it helps me to understand what's going on with the wood and the next time I try I will know what to expect and how to prevent it or slow it down.

Here's some more pictures of the things I've mentioned - 
A closer look at the grain.
I'm pretty sure more of the Birch I have will have more of this type of pattern in it, I'm hoping to turn some plates and small pots out of some of it, should be fun.

A closer look at the Ash / Oak candle stick - 
I'm going to keep my eyes open for more fence post offcuts :-)
  Unfortunately I don't have any of this left, so I will keep my eyes open for some more, maybe even a whole fence post or 2, I think I could make some interesting objects out of it.

This fault wasn't apparent from the outside of the wood.
Usually Pear wood has a subtle grain and unless it's polished it doesn't seem to show it, the Pear I have must have had a hard life as it has quite a few faults with it, not that it's a fault as such, I plan to incorporate these faults or natural quirks into some of my designs for extra interest, that's when I know what I turn isn't going to warp and crack apart, although I've seen warping and cracking incorporated into other wood turners designs, which is something else I might try.

All in all I'm enjoying the experience, all of it I've even started to make my own tools for turning, this as I've found is something a lot of other wood turners also do, it means you have a greater range open to you and you can make some tools that do really interesting things, from a wood turning point of view :-)

Thanks for reading.

Inspire Me Beautiful


  1. Goodness me, such beauty! I love the Goblet even with it's 'imperfection'- You are very talented indeed!

    Thank you for linking up x

  2. You are, really very talented! You seem to love wood, and I think it shows in these projects, real attention to detail! Cant wait to see more of them. Do you give them as gifts, or you sell them?

  3. Thank you, I do love wood :-) great stuff.
    I have plans to set up an online shop selling the various things I make, I've been experimenting with turning crochet hooks, I normally carve them by hand.
    I also have various other items in various states of finish, which I'm going to put into the shop as well.
    Thanks for reading.

  4. I think the birch is my favourite. I love this type of work. We have a bog oak sculpture which I really love, it came from bogland near our home. The good thing about this type of art is that it would look lovely in any home, regardless of decor or style, they are so timeless because they are in such a natural state. Look forward to seeing more of your work.

  5. I don't think I could pick a favourite I like them all for different reasons, I'm on a quest to get my hands on a burl or 2, not bothered what sort of wood, I really like the things I've seen made from walnut burls and oak ones, fantastic stuff.
    Thanks for reading.

  6. wow they're fab i love the candlesticks.
    Look foward to seeing more of your linkups on handmade thursday :)

  7. Really beautiful . . . I'll look forward to the post that announces the shop 'opening' :)

  8. Uhooi,
    Wow,, This results in a very good craft,,