Wood Questions- Mulberry and Elm

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Forum topic by Spinzwood posted 06-04-2017 11:18 PM 786 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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16 posts in 1174 days

06-04-2017 11:18 PM

I’m a brand new turner with a Jet Mini 1014 belt driven lathe.

I just received a couple of pieces of Mulberry.. I’m assuming it is Fruitless Mulberry as that is what is somewhat common in the area. The pieces are wet and have very minimal cracking at this point at the end grain. The pieces are about 3’ long and about 6” in diameter. Heartwood is about 2”+ in diameter. One piece is about the same length and has a crotch. If it is considered a decent wood to turn.. (is it?), I have a few questions…

First.. Should I leave it as longer pieces or cut them into pieces that are long enough to make goblets or small bowls and seal the ends and stack for a few months or so?

Second.. suggestions for sealing? I have a lot of interior latex paint.. or would going to a craft store and purchasing blocks of wax for making candles be better?

The other wood I have been promised is from a newly downed tree is supposed to be Japanese Elm. Do you know about this wood? Good to turn? If so, I’m guessing there is a lot available. Also guessing I should treat it as above with some end grain sealant.

Thanks for any advice.

7 replies so far

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1727 posts in 2532 days

#1 posted 06-05-2017 02:39 AM

Mulberry is good to turn, but it is prone to cracking. If possible split it along the pith line. Cut your pieces about 2” longer that the width of the split log. See how deep the pith is, and try to remove the remainder by cutting just below it. Shorter pieces are better than long pieces because the pith line isn’t always straight. Cutting longer than the width allows removal of some end cracks when ready to turn, in about a year. My experience is with dry Mulberry. I don’t know anything about elm. .... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View Spinzwood's profile


16 posts in 1174 days

#2 posted 06-05-2017 12:01 PM

Thanks Jerry.. appreciate your taking time to reply.. good info.

View OSU55's profile


2649 posts in 2791 days

#3 posted 06-05-2017 12:12 PM

You can rough turn wet, leave ~10% wall thickness, store in a brown bag with chips, and finish turn when dry – 2-4 months.

View Spinzwood's profile


16 posts in 1174 days

#4 posted 06-05-2017 12:53 PM

Tnx OSU55. I”m guessing by your reply you are ruling out sealing.. just cut and store in bags with chips?

As mentioned.. I’m a true newbie. Given my parameters of a 10” Jet mini.. and wood that is about 6” in diameter..

Would you cut rounds as short logs or split and cut circle blanks? I’m thinking small bowls or cups for starters.

I’d also like to try some bottle stoppers.

Just not sure best way to proceed with such small diameter material.

View Wildwood's profile


2876 posts in 2937 days

#5 posted 06-05-2017 04:18 PM

Have had both good & bad luck using latex as an end sealer. Couple years ago posted bowl blank here end sealed with latex end check badly. Other times had good luck with latex. Prefer wax whether use candles or go to a grocery store and buy caning wax but have used both and works well for me.

Several years ago destroyed half a pick-up load of fruit bearing Mulberry do to improper storage. Split, end sealed with latex, stacked on a palet and threw a tarp over it. Not good idea when have 95+ degree temps & humidity and direct sunlight. Ended up turning lot of pens & x-mas ornaments. My only attempt at turning a bowl from wet wood ended up a small candy dish.

If you can find a local turning club in your area they may have beeter advice on how to end seal, store or rough turn your wood. The way I prep wood lot different than what is required in your part of the country.

If go to this site and click on chapters may find people close to you that can give better advice on how to proceed.

-- Bill

View OSU55's profile


2649 posts in 2791 days

#6 posted 06-05-2017 04:22 PM

Heres how I do it and has worked well. For recently felled wood – Seal ends of logs, store out of sun, off the ground, out of rain if possible. Cut blanks as I’m ready for them. I may cut 6-8 at a time and keep in a plastic trash bag for a week or 2 until I get to them. Just limit evaporation. May get a little mold, but it usually gets cut off, allergies are a different deal. Bag the rough cut piece and store in a dry place. I have self supported wire shelves in the house for drying. A fairly consistant environment is best, but do what you can.

The above doesnt change for older stuff except for inspecting for splits. If ends have large splits I may cut some off to see how deep they go. If a log has partially split in half, I may go ahead and cut it to check condition. Some judgement is required, which you will learn with time. Straight face grain will be ok. Seal swirly burl areas. If in doubt just seal it, it wont hurt anything.

View BobAnderton's profile


311 posts in 3592 days

#7 posted 06-05-2017 10:07 PM

What I do is similar to what is said above. Seal the ends with Anchorseal, a wax emulsion. Then I freehand bandsaw down the center of the log through the pith, end to end. Then I lay that cut surface down on the bandsaw table and remove about 20% of the width on the two sides so I’ve got 3 sides at 90 degrees to each other. Then I turn it up on one side and take off the 4th side with a 4th bandsaw cut.

That makes a blank that is free of the pith and will usually dry without cracking fine.

-- Bob Anderton - Austin, TX - Nova 3000 lathe, Alaskan Mark III mill, Husqavarna Saw

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