Spalted Bowl (shattered and reconstructed)

  • Advertise with us
Project by Thuzmund posted 02-13-2014 05:28 AM 1829 views 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was my last piece of a spalted maple log. I am just learning how to turn, so a couple months back I quartered the logs and left them to dry—and they all cracked. Now I know! :)

Not wanting to waste this cool wood, and since I’ve had success turning wood with rot holes and cracks before, I went ahead and turned this bowl. I tried to make an interesting profile and follow richard raffan’s advice about the wall thickness getting thinner as you go down. Basically I just wanted to get some fancy shmancy curves and make it feel nice in the hand.

I think I did a good job, but I probably made the wall too thin. Literally as I made THE last whispery finish scrape to the lip of the bowl, the chisel bit just a teeny bit and the bowl exploded into two symmetrical halves. Good thing I wear face protection because I was leaning over to perform that “final touch.” Mine is not the midas touch—it’s the touch of death!!

I thought, what the hell—super glue it back up, scrape again as best as possible, and put some beeswax on it. I like the shape and i’m trying to explore how to make bowls look more attractive. (I was thinking “woman” as I made this one. But maybe a little wide at the top though hahaha)

I reckon that this bowl will dry a bit and warp, at which time it will come apart once again, irreparably. These pictures will be all that’s left!

Lesson: You do NOT need a lot of thrust for a tool to catch and explode a piece with a crack in it. Be prepared for accidents if you wanna try cracked wood! Always be prepared for danger! And keep some CA glue handy :)

-- Here to learn

5 comments so far

View Frady's profile


19 posts in 2489 days

#1 posted 02-13-2014 04:49 PM

Great saveā€¦I have lost pieces after having hours of time in them.

-- Frady in Denton,NC _Trying to bring what was to be firewood to life! Semper Fi!

View LesB's profile


2627 posts in 4329 days

#2 posted 02-13-2014 06:30 PM

Great, it wasn’t a complete loss.
For a complete split like you had I would not rely on super glue. The medium or thick is great for filling small holes and stopping cracks but I question it’s structural strength. Use regular old wood glue. The bond it makes is stronger than the wood.
If you aren’t familiar with microwave drying of wet wood I suggest you look it up on the internet. There are lots of write ups and You Tube videos on it and it works great. I use it often because I my age I can’t wait for years of natural drying. However I still buy green bananas.
Drying of large turning blank material takes years not months and it is best to leave it un-split and paint the cut ends with a commercial paraffin coating or a couple of coats of latex paint. Then keep your fingers crossed it won’t split. I usually cut the log sections much longer than the blank I expect to get from it because there is always some checking on the ends.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Thuzmund's profile


177 posts in 2514 days

#3 posted 02-14-2014 06:36 AM

Hey Les, thanks for that great advice. The only reason I went for super glue was because I only had yellow glue and wanted to avoid a live if possible. You are right that I should look to wood glue for strength.

I also never knew that one could use a microwave to dry. It seems from my quick research that I should turn the bowl, then microwave, then finish if the bowl moves during microwaving.

Does that sound about right?

-- Here to learn

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 4316 days

#4 posted 02-15-2014 04:58 AM

Great save! Have done this more then once. If it is on the shelf and positioned correctly… are the only one that knows! haha

I agree with LesB. Wood glue is always best.

Have also done the microwave drying. Careful of the wife if you use the kitchen one! I have an old one from a garage sale $5.00 and it works great.

Keep it up.

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

View LesB's profile


2627 posts in 4329 days

#5 posted 02-16-2014 06:56 PM

I use to explain my method of microwave drying but now I suggest people do their own internet research. Your assumption about partially turning the piece first is correct. If you didn’t run across the idea in you research it is also a good idea to put the partially turned blank in a brown paper bag during the microwaving. This acts like a steam kiln and keeps some of the moisture on the surface of the piece while the water inside cooks out. This reduces the stress in the wood. Between heating cycles I partially open the bag to let some moisture escape.
If you find small cracks developing between cycles in the microwave fill them with a medium super glue and that usually stops them from getting bigger.


-- Les B, Oregon

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics