Close to the point of failure

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Blog entry by Lochlainn1066 posted 11-30-2010 08:06 PM 1403 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Random thought:

In turning, the closer you can cut the wood to the point of failure, without actually having it fail, the better the end result. Crotch, burl, spalt, scarring. All failures of the wood which weaken the log and potential board. But in turning, we take those failures, cut away the “good stuff” and get as close to the fail point as possible without it flying apart on the lathe.

Can’t do that in furniture work, except for purely decorative areas like panels and drawer fronts, if you want your piece to survive use. Are turnings more temporal than furniture then? I don’t know. Probably.

The point of this? Dunno. But it sure helps when I cut down a tree knowing that I can use both those nice straight boles and all the junky parts most sawyers leave behind.

-- Nate,

3 comments so far

View Hoakie's profile


307 posts in 5321 days

#1 posted 11-30-2010 09:02 PM

Interesting perspective and Amen! :)

-- John H. [To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. ~Edison]

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 4303 days

#2 posted 11-30-2010 10:38 PM

Well in my opinion the straight boles are junk and the knots, burls, crotches and branch areas are GEMS! Those parts of the tree are what I am after and those parts are what turns out the best for me although those same parts have the most movement in my turned pieces. Some people do not like movement on a turned piece, I happen to think they add character and charm. I have trouble with my tree service guy as he keeps collecting the straight parts for me and can’t seem to understand that it is the junk I want! He keeps chipping up all the GEMS!
The straight part turns out “Ho-Hums” in my opinion and I am not excited when I turn those. I keep asking him to call me when he is cutting a tree down near where I live but he never does but he sure wants the bowls I give him for the wood. I may have to tell him no more bowls till I get what I want?

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View StevenAntonucci's profile


355 posts in 5223 days

#3 posted 12-01-2010 04:15 PM

Woodturning is a subtractive form, much like stone carving. You need to be clear in your vision, understand your material, and adapt when unexpected surprises occur (like hidden metal, voids, etc). It’s not so much about pushing the wood to the point of failure as it is knowing when you’ve made the last cut. (Any other cut that follows would detract from the result.)

It is also one of the only woodworking disciplines that requires practice. Anyone can push a board through a tablesaw or a planer, but standing at a lathe requires the user to have some basic proficiency to even make a basic cut. The lathe requires that the user not be closer to the point of failure moreso than the wood…

-- Steven

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