Walnut Bowls - Turning and Finishing Green Wood

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Project by RobertJ posted 05-30-2012 05:16 PM 10925 views 3 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The walnut bowls shown here were all cut green, dried naturally 2 to 5 days maximum and finished in one day. I’d like to share my experience with this experiment. The large logs I received were so wet that each log weighed at least 150 lbs or more. Stems sticking out the side were green and bent rather than snapped. I began turning the wood within a week. Water oozed out of each cut and covered my face shield during the process. All bowls were mounted once using a 4 screw faceplate. I turned each bowl outside and inside in one night. The process included cutting, scraping, sanding (80 thru 320) and detailing with a Dremel and more sanding, and finally buffing with tripoli and white diamond compound. I used a parting tool at the foot but only made a starting cut. The walnut vessel was cut free-hand using a skill saw.

Each bowl was set aside with faceplate attached, stored in a shaded room in my home for 2 to 5 days max. I remounted the bowl, sanded a second time (120 to 320). I re-cut the rim on one of the bowls. The next morning I applied a sacraficial lacquer coat as needed to remove any visible scratches and parted the bowl at the foot followed by belt and hand sanding and buffing of the bottom. I left the bowls overnight to allow the bottom surface to dry. I then applied two coats of lacquer, sanding each coat with wet 600 grit between coats. This finishing occured over a 1 1/2 hour period. I then applied Formby’s Tung Oil over the lacquer surface, wiped off the excess and immediately buffed out with light pressure using the white diamond buffing wheel. I then did a final buffing using the carnauba wax wheel, again, using very light pressure. The Formby’s finish seemed to act as a lubricant under the white diamond wheel and the lacquer took on a very even finish.

The bowls shown are 11 to 13 inches in diameter. The vessel is 7 1/4×7 1/4 inches.

I then set the bowls aside and observed some minor elongation on the detailed rolled rim bowl and minor surface rippling on the natural edge bowls. The finish has remained as originally applied. The process was experimental but I am amazed at the results and see no evidence of cracking or excessive warping that would make the bowls unpleasing to the eye. It should be kept in mind that I am a fan of rustic design, inherent when you’ve only got 15 months turning under your belt. I realize that the density and type of wood grain impacts ones ability to turn and finish in this manner. I have enough walnut left to turn 5 more medium to large size bowls and see no reason to wait for the wood to age.

-- RobertJ, Southern California

10 comments so far

View woodpezzer's profile


125 posts in 3544 days

#1 posted 05-30-2012 05:41 PM

WOW. It is impossible to pick a favorite of these pieces. Beautiful work on each. I agree.. why wait? Great turnings!

View Chaotic's profile


227 posts in 4813 days

#2 posted 05-30-2012 07:20 PM

Nice. Is this “english walnut”? I’ve never worked with it before. So much lighter than black walnut I’m used to.

View RobertJ's profile


26 posts in 3722 days

#3 posted 05-30-2012 08:59 PM

I don’t actually know. I have only worked with black walnut and I’m taking the word of the home owner that removed the tree who told me that this wood is walnut.

-- RobertJ, Southern California

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 4327 days

#4 posted 05-30-2012 11:43 PM

Great looking bowls.
Thanks for sharing the routine you used to turn/finish a green bowl.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Raymond Thomas's profile

Raymond Thomas

189 posts in 3558 days

#5 posted 05-31-2012 12:10 AM

Those are some great looking bowls.
Thanks for sharing your green turning technique – I will have to try it out.

-- Raymond, Charlotte, NC -------- Demonstrate the difference!

View peteg's profile


4438 posts in 4163 days

#6 posted 05-31-2012 02:27 AM

You’re havin’ way too much fun here Robert :))
A real nice set of turnings, wet turning is fun as it cuts so easy & quick with no dust, but, you need to take 5 & clean down the lathe each night & wipe the tools.
Well done

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View dubsaloon's profile


623 posts in 4134 days

#7 posted 05-31-2012 02:40 AM

Very nice project. Very impressive finishes. Turning is an addiction.

-- The works of evil people are not the problem. It is the "Good" people standing by and watching not speaking up. Dubsaloon

View murch's profile


1380 posts in 3964 days

#8 posted 05-31-2012 10:24 AM

Very interesting. The result’s are excellent.

-- A family man has photos in his wallet where his money used to be.

View Woodbridge's profile


3751 posts in 3758 days

#9 posted 05-31-2012 01:51 PM

Thanks for the information on green turning. I’ve never tried that before. All of your bowls look great.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Ken90712's profile


18101 posts in 4528 days

#10 posted 05-31-2012 03:59 PM

Love all of them.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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