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Journey into Woodturning #70: 50,000 Year Old Wood

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Blog entry by MovingChips posted 08-10-2021 02:07 PM 732 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 69: Failure to Success Part 70 of Journey into Woodturning series Part 71: Ironwood Bowl »

This project was a surprise. I purchased this wood because it had an exotic name. I had no idea that it could be as old as 50,000 years old. After reading the sticker on the wood when I got home, I felt like I was holding something ancient and maybe it should be left alone in its current state. Then I realized it was sold as a bowl blank, so let’s go.

I don’t normally do any research on the wood I’m turning until after I turned it. This time I felt compelled to find out more. Scientist (or someone a lot smarter than I) theorize that during the Ice Ages and great Tsunami slammed the northern part of New Zealand. This resulted in the knocking down and piling up of trees that eventually became submerged in a peat bog.

Why is a peat bog so important? A peat bog is wetland that has no running water feeding it. No underwater spring, flowing brooks or streams. The water in the bog is acidic, low in nutrients and low in oxygen. All of this combined, makes a great time capsule.

This piece of Kauri states on the sticker, from the company that sold it originally, that it was carbon dated to be 30,000 to 50,0000 years old. Of course, I went straight to the oldest part of the statement or title.

Just thinking about even 30,000 years old for a minute, taking the average generation span of (let us make the math easy) 20 years. That would mean the wood is over 1500 generations old. I cannot imagine further back beyond my great grandparents, so 3 generations. Looking back at the past astonishes me. How something so fragile as wood could be that old.

The wood itself cut very nicely. I felt like it was stronger than maple, but I am still new to turning. The shavings were smooth and consistent, with no tear out. The luster of the polished wood to 600 grit and finish made the piece sparkle as if it were infused with gold flakes.

Here’s this weeks video: 50,000 Year Old Wood - Bowl



12 comments so far

View Phil32's profile

Phil32

1564 posts in 1124 days


#1 posted 08-10-2021 03:05 PM

Yes, I have a finished Kauri bowl that I purchased in Picton, South Island, NZ. It only claims to be 6000 years old, so the story that these are the result of a single tsunami event is unlikely.

-- You know, this site doesn't require woodworking skills, but you should know how to write.

View MovingChips's profile

MovingChips

477 posts in 462 days


#2 posted 08-10-2021 04:20 PM



Yes, I have a finished Kauri bowl that I purchased in Picton, South Island, NZ. It only claims to be 6000 years old, so the story that these are the result of a single tsunami event is unlikely.

- Phil32

Yeah, who knows. It makes for a great story though. Only the tree knows the truth and it aint speaking! LOL

View Phil32's profile

Phil32

1564 posts in 1124 days


#3 posted 08-10-2021 05:55 PM

It’s the same with Japanese knife merchants. All of them were founded by a 12th century Samurai sword maker.

-- You know, this site doesn't require woodworking skills, but you should know how to write.

View MovingChips's profile

MovingChips

477 posts in 462 days


#4 posted 08-10-2021 05:59 PM



It s the same with Japanese knife merchants. All of them were founded by a 12th century Samurai sword maker.

- Phil32

LOL

View DevinT's profile (online now)

DevinT

1826 posts in 187 days


#5 posted 08-10-2021 06:09 PM

I read that it takes 1M years for wood to become petrified. So I guess 50k years old is still workable for wood. Wonder what happens if you get 250k year old wood … is it hard but not yet petrified?

-- Devin, SF, CA

View MovingChips's profile

MovingChips

477 posts in 462 days


#6 posted 08-10-2021 06:37 PM



I read that it takes 1M years for wood to become petrified. So I guess 50k years old is still workable for wood. Wonder what happens if you get 250k year old wood … is it hard but not yet petrified?

- DevinT

I was wondering when it would petrify. At that point would you be turning stone or wood?

View Phil32's profile

Phil32

1564 posts in 1124 days


#7 posted 08-10-2021 07:58 PM

This is a photo of the 6000 year old Swamp Kauri bowl I bought in NZ. Notice how much fresher it appears. . .

-- You know, this site doesn't require woodworking skills, but you should know how to write.

View MovingChips's profile

MovingChips

477 posts in 462 days


#8 posted 08-10-2021 08:07 PM



This is a photo of the 6000 year old Swamp Kauri bowl I bought in NZ. Notice how much fresher it appears. . .

- Phil32

Love the grain figure in that piece. Gorgeous!

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

118200 posts in 4797 days


#9 posted 08-10-2021 08:40 PM

Very cool turning and super video!

-- https://www.artisticwoodstudio.com/videos

View MovingChips's profile

MovingChips

477 posts in 462 days


#10 posted 08-10-2021 08:56 PM



Very cool turning and super video!

- a1Jim

Thank you

View Phil32's profile

Phil32

1564 posts in 1124 days


#11 posted 08-13-2021 08:15 PM

I’m curious that the Kauri wood in your video is straight grained and light colored. Kauri (pronounced Cow-ree) is not an ancient wood even though the logs recovered from peat bogs are quite old. Kauri is being grown in forests today. Like oak or walnut, this commercial wood is straight grained where old-growth trees may be twisted and warped.

-- You know, this site doesn't require woodworking skills, but you should know how to write.

View MovingChips's profile

MovingChips

477 posts in 462 days


#12 posted 08-13-2021 08:47 PM



I m curious that the Kauri wood in your video is straight grained and light colored. Kauri (pronounced Cow-ree) is not an ancient wood even though the logs recovered from peat bogs are quite old. Kauri is being grown in forests today. Like oak or walnut, this commercial wood is straight grained where old-growth trees may be twisted and warped.

- Phil32

Yes very tight grain. According to my research the Kauri wood is still grown today and is not considered endangered. Thank you for the pronunciation, I think I was close.

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