A big Ficus bowl - nearly 10" (hey, that's big for me!)

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 08-07-2009 03:35 PM 6005 reads 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

In the first half of this blog post, I cut up a Ficus log and made a nearly 11” round for later turning into a bowl. I sealed every part of it in Anchorseal. Flash forward about 12 days, this past Saturday, and I finally chucked it up and made a bowl. Unfortunately, as with everything Ficus I’ve ever sealed, it was covered with mold by this point, and a little bit stinky.

moldy Ficus bowl blank

moldy Ficus bowl blank

I figured I’d turn the mold away. I went with a faceplate on the soon-to-be-concave side:

Ficus blank chucked for turning

Here’s where I stopped taking pictures, because I made a sweet time-lapse video of the whole turning. This is 1 frame every second. The full, real time to turn the bowl was 72 minutes:

And here’s the finished bowl. Note that the mold penetrated through the whole thing, right up the grain lines:

moldy Ficus bowl

The tenon remains until I can finish sand and then coat it with whatever I decide to put on the finished piece. Meanwhile, it will dry out more. It was quite damp here. You can still see that darn mold poking through on the bottom here. Note the blotchy, greenish areas.

bottom of Ficus bowl

Ficus bowl

It’s about 9-5/8” total. It’ll be hard to make an exactly 12” bowl, as the blank would need to be exactly 12”, and it would be just about scraping the ways of my lathe. This started out nearly 11”, and now is under 10”. I had to turn more away from the outside than I wanted as there was a big bark inclusion cutting across it.

Ficus bowl is approaching 10 inches wide

Anyone know any remedies for mold IN wood? Should I soak it in alcohol? Light it on fire? Give it to someone I don’t like very much? It has an acrid, musty smell. But hey, it looks just like a bowl!

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

11 comments so far

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2659 posts in 5017 days

#1 posted 08-07-2009 03:41 PM

Thats cool! If you keep this up I’ll have to sell the truck, give away the dog and buy a lathe! Your post are great Thank you

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View lew's profile


13546 posts in 5245 days

#2 posted 08-07-2009 04:48 PM

Gary, Your are becoming a turning genius!!

Here is something I made from a thing I saw on a turning sight. It helps me turn/finish the bottom of a piece.




Mounted on Headstock

Threaded on Headstock

Tapped Hole

Hold Downs

The hold downs have cork on the inside edge to provide friction. Made the entire thing out of scraps and a couple of dollars worth of hardware. The concentric rings on the face are just to help center the work piece. The independent movement of the hold downs allow chucking of a piece that is not symmetrical.

It is really handy to get a tap- and associated drill bit- that is the same size as the threads on your head stock. You can then make all sorts of specialized chucks.

Hope this give you an idea!


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

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27248 posts in 5312 days

#3 posted 08-07-2009 04:53 PM

Gary, you are quickly becoming a turning expert!! I just wish I had a lathe in my shop (deep sigh)!!! :)

This is a really nice looking bowl, by the way. It is going to be an interesting project when it is finished.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 5210 days

#4 posted 08-08-2009 06:20 AM

Love the time laspe, and I am enjoying following your journey.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View a1Jim's profile


118333 posts in 5067 days

#5 posted 08-08-2009 06:52 AM

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 4921 days

#6 posted 08-08-2009 08:45 AM

Gary great job on the video. Nice to see a piece go from rough to finish that fast. You are getting GOOD at turning, but I gues you have to get rid of all that wood you brought home, so you have lots of prctice. haha

Allways enjoy your posts. Keep them up.


PS Nice bowl!

-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4872 days

#7 posted 08-09-2009 02:44 PM

Kindlingmaker – Get to it! I want to see some nice turnings soon :)

Lew – That is incredible! Well made! I’ve seen the Stronghold Jumbo Jaws accessories I could get for my Oneway chuck, but it never occurred to me I could just make my own whole rig as you did. Nicely done! I have one giant tap in my collection, and it still isn’t that big. I bought it to mount some Loc-Line hose in an aluminum manifold in my little machine lathe. I’ve never used it again since. I’d probably find more reasons to use one that fit my wood lathe’s spindle. Thanks for sharing the pics.

Scott – Thanks! It’s been 8 days since I turned it now, and though I’ve done nothing but rest it on my workbench in the garage, it shows no checking at all. This is my most stable turning yet. Fingers crossed. I did detect some pretty good warping. It doesn’t lay flat upside down, for example. The rim is wiggly. I will probably remount it in a month or two and turn it back to true, which will make it thinner, which is also fine. It will be pretty dry and done warping by then, I hope.

kenn and Jim – thanks guys!

Scrappy – thanks very much, and yes, I’m looking at the lathe as a fantastic way to thin the herd out in my backyard. It’s too tiny a yard to be such a jungle of log piles and racks of logs and boards :)

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 5203 days

#8 posted 08-26-2009 05:02 AM

Thanks for this blog, great time-lapse!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5651 days

#9 posted 08-29-2009 05:24 PM

excellent.. love your videos!!

a request: (from a beginner-beginner turner) Could you hold up the tools you are using so I can see what you use, when.

as for the mold .. seal it…. (that’s not words of expertise.. just an idea)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Bill Akins's profile

Bill Akins

425 posts in 5188 days

#10 posted 09-03-2009 02:12 PM

Beautiful bowl, love the video.

-- Bill from Lithia Springs, GA I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4872 days

#11 posted 09-03-2009 02:26 PM

Mark – You’re welcome, and thanks!

Ms. Debbie – Thank you very much! I think one of these days I’ll have to do a little instructional video to show all of the little things I’ve learned on my own, which I haven’t really seen in any of the stuff I’ve found online. These are just the things you learn as you go – when things catch, what causes problems and such. I’m still learning a lot each time I go in, and don’t always exactly know how a movement will work, and I pay for the learning in catches, gouges, and cracks. Less and less as I go, though, which is good.

Bill – Thanks!

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

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