pith how much to remove

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Forum topic by Karda posted 12-25-2017 02:08 AM 1160 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1950 posts in 1155 days

12-25-2017 02:08 AM

got a pith question. How big is pith, I have removed an inch or so on either side but some just cut through it. I know what it is and where it is but have know idea how large. on large pieces its not that big an issue but on smaller pieces cutting to much can be a waste. any ideas

12 replies so far

View pottz's profile


7638 posts in 1585 days

#1 posted 12-25-2017 03:45 AM

your question is kinda vague.i assume your talking about the soft wood that needs to be removed from a piece of wood?you gotta be a lot defining in what your asking?

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

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1950 posts in 1155 days

#2 posted 12-25-2017 04:08 AM

pith is in all wood not just soft wood. sorry i am refering to cuting up logs for bowl blanks for turning on a lathe

View bondogaposis's profile


5603 posts in 2952 days

#3 posted 12-25-2017 04:12 AM

The pith itself is very narrow and visible. The surrounding juvenile wood is also problematic as it can actually shrink in length and cause all sorts of warping. I usually remove one inch either side on pine.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Lazyman's profile


4468 posts in 1988 days

#4 posted 12-25-2017 04:31 AM

It depends a little on the species and size of the log but an inch on either side (i.e. 2 inches out of the middle) is a good rule of thumb.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Rich's profile


5126 posts in 1190 days

#5 posted 12-25-2017 05:59 AM

This is a very pithy question.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Karda's profile


1950 posts in 1155 days

#6 posted 12-25-2017 06:08 AM

yes it is

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5516 posts in 2910 days

#7 posted 12-25-2017 07:52 AM

I’m not even sure what we are talking about. I won’t let that stop me.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Wildwood's profile


2790 posts in 2735 days

#8 posted 12-25-2017 11:21 AM

Alaska Guy’s link are good examples for larger logs because the pith doesn’t always run straight up the log. I may just split a log in half and turn away the pith right after spliting.

Size or diameter is also another factor when going to turn small trunk wood or limbs without a visiable pith under five inches and not worrying abothe the pith.

On hollow forms when turn between centers with the grain may leave the pith, drill a hole and plug it to keep it from splitting later. I have also turned away the pith like in some of my lamps. Have turn across the grain vases where left the pith and can see some minor pith cracks.

Lot depends upon what you want to turn and when that comes with experience, different species, and some luck.

-- Bill

View LeeMills's profile


688 posts in 1902 days

#9 posted 12-25-2017 01:58 PM

Like the others, there is no set answer. In general, for smaller (8” or less diameter) I just cut through the pith once and the chain saw kerf is enough. For larger I typically cut 1/2” to 1” on either side. Differences may be crotch sections where with even large I only cut once for the kerf of the saw to leave the most grain pattern; an opposite may be 1.5” on each side for oak or sycamore in order to have two quartersawn pieces.
I do have a electric hand plane that I picked up for <$15 to remove the pith if it did not run straight (or I did not cut straight) on smaller logs. In any event you want the pith off, not left on.
I am sure that is what inspired that old saying “It’s better to be pithed off than pithed on.”.

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

View Karda's profile


1950 posts in 1155 days

#10 posted 12-25-2017 06:43 PM

thanks for your insight gives me a better idea of how to cut up a log The link alaskaguy posted is very helpful. i do have one question. You said you leave the pith in and turn it out, that leaves pith on 2 sides of a bowel blank, won’t that split. or is it repairable if it does thanks mike

View Wildwood's profile


2790 posts in 2735 days

#11 posted 12-25-2017 09:34 PM

If turning open bowls you want to remove the pith or else risk losing your bowl due to cracking.

If don’t completely remove the pith with your band or chain saw or chisel it away you can still turn it away.

Lot depends upon size of the bowl & design!

Normally mount the blank using my worm screw in my chuck by drilling a hole in pith side, that is going to be open or in side of the bowl, bring tailstock up and turn outside of bowl. When get what I want remove my live center install a forstner bit in drill chuck and drill my recess so can reverse turn in my chuck minus the worm screw.

You can do it just the oposite way too, whether use a chuck or face plate &

Yes there are times pith can be a design element too, just not on most hardwood bowls!

This article on turning green bowls and few vases on my project page demostrate what am talking about.

-- Bill

View Karda's profile


1950 posts in 1155 days

#12 posted 12-25-2017 10:22 PM

thanks, I read the article it has a lot of information i need

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