Mulberry Hollowed Bowl #1: -OR- There IS some Burl-like Character, isn't there?

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Blog entry by Mark Wilson posted 07-01-2018 05:39 AM 3487 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Mulberry Hollowed Bowl series no next part

A lot of photos – a lot of words. Buckle up and affix the headphones.

I wouldn’t know what a Mulberry is if it walked up and bit me on my ankle. But the wood from the tree so-called is awful pretty. The tree was removed from a neighbor’s yard some five years ago. I got a whole bunch of it – logs and slabs. It was cut down simply because said neighbor had grown weary of paying someone to trim it twice a year. It was a very beautiful tree. And, because of said neighbor’s impetuousness, we get to find out what it looks like inside.
I’ve made a very few things of it. This, and this, for instance.

Now, for at least two or three years, I had this sitting on the floor in the Dungeon.

That big protuberance had me dreaming of some burl-like character. Never having turned an actual burl, I was quite excited to get in there.

The flat face made a good place to mount a faceplate.

This thing would’ve sent the old Shopsmith skittering across the room. But, never fear, the new Nova knew what she was doing. She’s as heavy as a supertanker and can spin a thing as slow as 100 RPM. So I began turning.

I honestly knew not what would come of this. Given those corners, I wondered if, mebbees, something wing-ed might be produced. I didn’t even know, yet, what would be the bottom and what the top. It kinda depended on what I would find beneath the protuberance. I wound up sawing one of those corners off.
As it turns out, in a rather straight-forward fashion, that which would be expected to be the bottom indeed became the bottom.

These openings, it seems were the continuation of the hole in the other side that was covered up by the faceplate, and were still visible in the botom of the completed bowl.

Now, having settled on the overall shape, I needed a chuck recess. The questionable integrity of the material surrounding the voids made it a little iffy.

So I made the recess deeper. (Photo taken after the initial application of Shine Juice.) It held just fine, thank you very much.

A good place to notice how the BLO/Shellac made the figure pop.

And, also, a good place to mention the concavity of the sides, and how it set me, for more than a week, to staring at the Thing on the lathe, wondering, what next?. I couldn’t open it up like an ordinary bowl – that would blow out the sides. I actually gave some thought to…
A June bug just landed in my lap. It’s only the second one I’ve seen this year, and it’s June 30th.
...opening it up from the recess side, going ahead and blowing out most of the bark-covered sides, creating something that would stand on what’s left and be (I don’t know) a huge candle holder, or… something. Whatevah. It wasn’t to be.

So I finished up the outside and mounted it in the recess (too much cogitating, must get to the doing).

There’s that hole. You may also notice that I did, in the beginning, have to re-position the faceplate. I had made up my mind by this point that I would undercut the top for a smallish opening. The shape around the edge is where I was trying to imagine actually going as deep as I could go, as close to the outer edge as I could get, at an angle, and come up into a dome with a hole in the middle. (At some point, I’ll set out to do just that with a piece. Then, you’ll see what I’m attempting to describe.) I started going in.

I began the undercutting.

I kept drawing it out until the sound told me I was getting close to the bark

Having gone as deep as I dare and as wide as I dare, I did some more shaping around the perimeter, secured the edges of the bark with CA, and began applying the Shine Juice and straight shellac.

Several coats and lots of buffing (by hand), and I was satisfied with the top. The inside, however, was another matter.

The tool marks were unacceptable. Now, the only round-nose scrapers I have are of the 1/2” variety. It’s been my experience that they leave as many new tool marks as they remove. My Carbide tools (Sorby) do the same. I contemplated going and buying a good, thick man-size scraper. Then I thought, nah, I don’t need to do that. I have a 1-1/4” wide, 1/4” thick steel tool that came from I know not where. I’d used it a few times, and found it to be quite scary – it had a very low bevel to it: Maybe, 70 degrees. You know that a scraper has to have a nearly vertical pitch to its bevel to support the edge. I got out the grinder and gave it that 20 degree – if that – bevel. While I had the grinder out, and without sutting it off even once, I went to town on all my tools, because it had been a while. Oh, what a difference a sharp tool makes. Check out the beautiful fine shavings. And, oh, the effortlessness of it all. (Photo made after mounting on the Longworth chuck to finish the bottom.)

No more tool marks.

And, that’s where we came in.
Thank you. And, I apologize. For all the words. I hate the sound of my own voice. If I tried to do this kind of thing in a video (and, I have, in the past)...I wouldn’t. But, I do like to write.

And now, to take us out, here’s a Ricercare) from Bach. I’ve never heard this before now, as I wrap this up. A ricercare is a rather ancient vocal piece that predates Bach by a number of years. Enjoy. It’s very unusual.

-- Mark

8 comments so far

View robscastle's profile


7192 posts in 2972 days

#1 posted 07-01-2018 07:43 AM

Now thats the Mark we all know!

-- Regards Rob

View Grumpy's profile


26416 posts in 4619 days

#2 posted 07-01-2018 09:49 AM

Mark I must get some mulberry after seeing that. Thanks

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

24774 posts in 3873 days

#3 posted 07-01-2018 12:03 PM

Nice group of process shots! I have turned mulberry and the stuff I had was always real yellow!

cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View leafherder's profile


1957 posts in 2720 days

#4 posted 07-01-2018 01:42 PM

Ah, Mulberry – love it or hate it. Love it for the delicious fruit, the silk worms that eat the leaves and produce that glorious shining fabric, the bark which is an ancient source of fiber for paper, and the beautiful wood that is easy to work and whose color mellows with age while the grain shimmers with the application of any type of finish. Hate it for the way it attracts those noisy messy birds who spread the seeds far and wide where they grow like weeds and crowd out native plants. Count me among the lovers.

Great job Mark, maybe that June Bug was your Muse – June is when Mulberry blooms and sets fruit here in Ohio. I had some on my trees last week but the birds got them all – that’s OK, I grow them for the wood because they are easy to bend into fun shapes for canes/walking sticks (just started working on a new one last week). Yes Mulberry wood can be yellow, but leave it in the sun and it will mellow. Yes the grain really doesn’t pop until you apply the finish – then WOW. Never seen an actual Mulberry burl , but any damage to the tree during growth gets exaggerated in the grain and it is not uncommon to find branches bent double that fused together as they grew producing interesting bumps and nodules. If you’re still thinking about a lid, I suggest Mulberry, it might be difficult to match colors of any other wood.

Thanks for posting. Happy July!


-- Leafherder

View lew's profile


13114 posts in 4523 days

#5 posted 07-01-2018 02:14 PM

Nicely Done!

I had forgotten that you had a Longworth chuck.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2826 posts in 1831 days

#6 posted 07-01-2018 07:38 PM

Mark I must get some mulberry after seeing that. Thanks

- Grumpy

Tony, I have a ton of the stuff. When will you be over?

-- Mark

View DocSavage45's profile


8956 posts in 3610 days

#7 posted 07-01-2018 08:51 PM


Looks pretty interesting, and your new lathe seems to be adding to your creativity.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View pottz's profile


9826 posts in 1752 days

#8 posted 07-01-2018 09:44 PM

man you take the ugliest pieces of wood and make the most beautiful things from it,fantastic job as always.that new lathe has definitly revived your passion for turning.keep it coming buddy.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

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