First turning on my lathe - bug wood bowl practice piece

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Project by Chris Peroni posted 11-16-2013 01:47 AM 3306 views 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I was in high school I absolutely loved turning wood and ever since I always promised myself I would get back to it again someday. Finally after 17 years without turning a single piece of wood on a lathe, I am getting a chance again.

It’s been so long that I decided the best plan of action would be to just get some practice pieces in. Get a feel for the tools again, the hand motions, lathe speeds, all that great stuff. No expectations- no final shape or design in mind – just sort of let myself find that good feeling again.

The wood I chose to use for my first try came from a log which has been in my backyard since before I moved to this house 3 years ago. When I cut the end off this log I discovered a black ant colony had carved out a little bit of property within – whoops! I think they added a little something to the wood, and since I don’t know what kind of wood this is, I am choosing to call it bug wood in honour of those p.o.’d ants I upset. In the center of the piece the ants had opened up a 1” x 3” hole, with a couple of tunnels leading to and from – you can see one of the entry holes in picture 3. This wood was super dry and had a few other tough spots in it, but after getting past the frustrating bits I was actually happy to have some challenges to re-learn from.

I also took a turn at practising a better finishing regiment including using a wipe on poly & danish oil for the first time. To finish the wood I started with 2 coats of Watco medium walnut danish oil, then 4 coats of Minwax wipe on poly with a light sanding using 0000 steel wool between each. Topped it off with 2 more coats of the poly using the steel wool to apply, then a buffing with Minwax paste finishing wax. Took me over a week to finish it but dang was it worth it! I love the smooth, mild gloss finish which is not thick or heavy. The wood itself has great character – I am very pleased with the way the natural cracks and the grain lines / figure is presented. I have to improve on keeping a uniform or evenly tapering thickness – but hey! not bad for a first go in so long.

-diameter is about 6.75”, height 5.5”

-- Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. -Plato

10 comments so far

View waho6o9's profile


8996 posts in 3582 days

#1 posted 11-16-2013 03:12 AM

Very nice work, I like the finish on it, good job.

View BobWemm's profile


2951 posts in 2931 days

#2 posted 11-16-2013 03:19 AM

Nice job, I love the wood.

-- Bob, Western Australia, The Sun came up this morning, what a great start to the day. Now it's up to me to make it even better. I've cut this piece of wood 4 times and it's still too damn short.

View CFrye's profile (online now)


11166 posts in 2845 days

#3 posted 11-16-2013 04:57 AM

Congratulations Chris! Super job with some unusual wood. Keep turning and sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

View Chris Peroni's profile

Chris Peroni

101 posts in 2944 days

#4 posted 11-16-2013 05:23 AM

thanks all! :) I’ll likely end up cutting that log into a few more pieces and get some more practice in.

-- Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. -Plato

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2830 days

#5 posted 11-16-2013 11:00 AM

Very nicely done Chris…..I hope I do half as well when I get my lathe up and running. I look forward to seeing bigger and better stuff to come…

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View poospleasures's profile


862 posts in 3489 days

#6 posted 11-16-2013 11:59 AM

Nice work. You must remember “how to do” very well. Yours is a very interesting story. Thanks of the finish directions.

-- I,ve had amnesia for as long as I can remember. Vernon

View Rockbuster's profile


499 posts in 3614 days

#7 posted 11-17-2013 03:51 PM

Nice work for a first the second time!! I love your mystery wood and finish. My first choice guess is Chestnut, or maybe Ash. Carpenter ants seem to love both species. Both of these woods are destined to be extinct, however, Chestnut is making somewhat of a comeback.

-- Rockbuster,Ft. Wayne,In It is far better to remain silent, and appear the fool, than it is to open ones mouth, and remove all doubt.

View Chris Peroni's profile

Chris Peroni

101 posts in 2944 days

#8 posted 11-17-2013 05:12 PM

Rockbuster – Very interesting this guess of Ash! The log I cut from has no bark on it but there are 3 other logs in my backyard, and I believe all are felled from the same tree. Previously I had done a little googling to see if I could place the bark but had no luck – never searched what Ash bark looks like though. Sure enough, the remaining bark on the other logs in my yard is spot on for Ash. This would also explain the hardness of the wood.


poospleasures- I have LJ’s to thank for the finishing directions; learned it right here.

aussiedave- I’m going to have a go at more of the same wood, and order some cherry or briar and see about a pipe.

-- Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. -Plato

View Chris Peroni's profile

Chris Peroni

101 posts in 2944 days

#9 posted 11-17-2013 07:58 PM

I just cut off another round from the log this bowl came from; there are more ant tunnels than before and possibly one which goes through end to end. Not sure if I can get any more usable pieces from this log. Then again, the tunnels might not interfere too much… we’ll see as I turn it I guess.

-- Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. -Plato

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3872 days

#10 posted 11-03-2017 11:59 AM

Chris, you did a fine job on this bowl and I bet that you learned a lot. It’s a real eye catcher.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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