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Desiccant-dried walnut bowl

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Project by BuckeyeDennis posted 01-13-2020 04:52 PM 465 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Back in 2018, a friend with a hundred-year-old house had a large walnut yard tree taken down. He had the trunk and large limbs bandsawed into big beautiful slabs, beams, and boards. But the crotch pieces were destined to become firewood. So I brought them home for turning, and thanked my friend with a gallon of Anchorseal.

So, you may ask, what’s up with the desiccant drying? Well, my oldest daughter had been wanting a wooden bowl for years, and last December I decided to finally turn her one for a Christmas present. Problem was, I couldn’t get started on it until about a week before Christmas. So I researched accelerated bowl-drying methods, and decided to try the bury-it-in-desiccant method. Several reviews claimed that you can dry a rough-turned bowl in about three days, with little to no cracking. I was skeptical, but you can see my actual results in the photos.

The walnut-crotch blank was still fairly green when I rough-turned it. But after three days covered with desiccant in a plastic bag, the bowl weight had dropped by about 20%. An existing crack in the bottom of the bowl opened a bit, another small one formed, and some slight checking appeared in the crotch-figure part. But there were no showstoppers, and some slow-curing epoxy penetrated and stabilized the cracks easily enough.

As this is only my second bowl, I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to start with gorgeous figured blanks! Speaking of which, the rough blank started out at about 16” in diameter. To preserve as much of the crotch figure as possible, I used the center of the tree as the bottom of the bowl, and left some sapwood at the rim. Final bowl dimensions came out at 10-1/2” diameter and 2-3/4” high.

The finish is Minwax satin wipe-on poly, smoothed with 400-grit sandpaper every couple of coats. I didn’t get as many coats on as I wanted before Christmas morning, so my daughter got to decide on the final sheen. As it turned out, she preferred an even lower gloss. So I applied two or three more coats of the satin wipe-on poly, leveled the last coat with 600-grit sandpaper, and then rubbed it out with #000 steel wool.

Thanks for looking!

-- Dennis 'We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.' Charles Swindoll





4 comments so far

View John's profile

John

1860 posts in 2118 days


#1 posted 01-14-2020 05:16 PM

Walnut is such a nice wood, this piece is outstanding! Nice work Dennis.

-- John, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada.

View BuckeyeDennis's profile

BuckeyeDennis

90 posts in 546 days


#2 posted 01-14-2020 11:55 PM

Thanks, John. I felt very lucky to get those crotch walnut logs. Hopefully I can do them justice!

-- Dennis 'We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.' Charles Swindoll

View Jason89's profile

Jason89

6 posts in 244 days


#3 posted 01-21-2020 04:32 AM

I’m going to take a little Woodturning class at the local guild. Want to see if I will like it before I go down that rabbit hole.

View BuckeyeDennis's profile

BuckeyeDennis

90 posts in 546 days


#4 posted 01-31-2020 01:31 PM

My daughter now finds herself competing for ownership of the bowl. With her own cat. The moment it’s empty, the cat hops in and makes herself right at home.

-- Dennis 'We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.' Charles Swindoll

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