How should I cut for blanks

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Forum topic by ezal posted 03-04-2019 05:22 PM 649 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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9 posts in 965 days

03-04-2019 05:22 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bowls bowl blanks turning question

I have played with 4 bowls to this point, make that 5 one is getting used to light the fire pit. All has been out of Ash, different shapes and 4” to 6” in size.

I was driving with the wife and hollered “WOOD”. Made a U-turn and hit the brakes. HA HA HA you should have seen the look on her face.

Any way I picked up 2 chunks 8 to 9 inch around and 31-inch-long. The centers of the wood are a different shad from the outside. Half way down the length on both has where branches came out, one almost looks like a burl? How should I cut for bowl blanks?
I want to take advantage to the color change.

I have know idea what kind of wood it is, but like the color.

Thank for the advice.

10 replies so far

View ibewjon's profile


1756 posts in 3596 days

#1 posted 03-04-2019 06:13 PM

From the bark, it looks like soft maple. And get the ends waxed to slow checking. It was free, so just cut a piece and turn till you see what’s inside. I might start to turn a bowl, find a defect and end up with a plate. Look up green wood turning, you will need to rough it, then come back to final turn it after it is dry.

View LesB's profile


2573 posts in 4246 days

#2 posted 03-05-2019 01:01 AM

So do you intend to turn it green or let it dry?

If you want to dry it you must seal the ends and then store it in a cool dry location for a year or two. I have piles of potential wood blanks in my barn that I dry that way. Give yourself plenty of extra end wood that might form small cracks that can be cut off later. I usually keep my logs of turning material twice as long as it is wide so I can trim off the ends. Some will probably still crack anyway but then you can rip it lengthwise along the biggest crack to form two half you can cut bowl blanks from. I wouldn’t try to turn it on the end grain because you finished product will almost certainly split.

There are a number of ways to turn and treat green wood from partial turning and storying in a paper bag in a cool place for a few weeks then finishing it; partial turning and then drying in a microwave oven before finishing, and turning or not and treating with to Polyethylene Glycol PEG Green Wood Stabilizer to displace the moisture and prevent cracking.

-- Les B, Oregon

View MrUnix's profile


8156 posts in 3002 days

#3 posted 03-05-2019 01:34 AM

If you want to reduce the potential for cracking, then you need to remove the pith and seal the ends. I like to paint the ends with a white latex. I can then use a sharpie marker to mark the date and other information on it. Here is a batch ready to be stored away for a year or two:

If you instead want to do end grain bowls, then you just need to cut cookies off the trunks… but they will almost always crack, so you will need to deal with that after they have dried – typically by filling them with epoxy, like this one:


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Wildwood's profile


2876 posts in 2938 days

#4 posted 03-05-2019 11:19 AM

Have choice of either turning end grain bowls or side grain.

You are dealing with both sap and heart wood, which method will give you the best contrast of color? Depends on how you process and turn those blanks. Since have no idea how wet (mositure content) those logs are and sizee or swing of your lathe and turning tools offer different recommendations.

1. Cut sections of log for turning end grain bowls if not going to turn right away seal ends with either paraffin wax or latex paint. If turn right awat turn thin 1/4” or less.

2. Split sections of log for turning side grain bowls if not going to turn right away seal ends as before or turn thin.

Think what you are caling a burl looks like knotch from a branch if talking second picture, first one may have start of a burl not sure.

Since don’t know part of the country you live in, suggest having look a at charts on page 5, Figure 13-1 “Drying & Control of Moisture Content & Dimensional Changes; and Table 13-2 “ Recommended mositure content value for varipus wood products at time of instalation.”

Might find lot of information on drying wood in other chapter of this handbook helpful and improve your success rate turning.

-- Bill

View Lazyman's profile


5653 posts in 2191 days

#5 posted 03-05-2019 01:08 PM

In general, I try to cut a slice about 1-2 inches thick out of the middle that includes the pith, leaving 2 half rounds. It will be easier to do that if you cut it to lengths that are about the same length as the diameter first but if you have a band saw you can do the full length and cut the length when are ready to turn it. You can take that center section and rip the pith out and you wind up with a 1-2” thick quarter sawn board that will be very stable for future use as well. Even after removing the pith, if you don’t turn it within a few days, you may still start getting checks so as noted above, seal the ends. I’ve tried all sort of methods (paint, glue, wax, etc.) to seal the ends but I tried Anchorseal 2 recently for the first time and none of the other remedies I’ve tried come anywhere close. Anchorseal is amazing stuff. I’ve used in on logs that I don’t have time to remove the pith and 6 months later there are still no cracks forming, even sitting outside on my patio getting direct Texas afternoon sun on them.

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

View ezal's profile


9 posts in 965 days

#6 posted 03-05-2019 03:49 PM

Thank you for the replies.

Let’s see what kind of weather do I have? It was -5 degrees Monday and Tuesday has a high of 18 degrees (heat wave), but I don’t have to shovel snow today that’s a good thing.
The tree was cut Saturday as I was standing there.

What type of lathe, this is what I started with it got me interested.

View ezal's profile


9 posts in 965 days

#7 posted 03-05-2019 03:54 PM


View ezal's profile


9 posts in 965 days

#8 posted 03-05-2019 03:55 PM

what in the world did I do
I just picked up a Jet 12×21 VS and a nova chuck
I have been turning seasoned wood just out of the wood pile and some Ash a friend gave me, but really want to give wet a go at.
I did watch and read the information you guys gave me and finding it help full.
One person even placed rough out bowls in the freezer.

Thanks, again

View Lazyman's profile


5653 posts in 2191 days

#9 posted 03-05-2019 04:31 PM

Rough turning green is the way to go in my opinion. I usually just put them in a paper bag or cardboard box in the wet shavings from the turning to let them dry in a corner of the shop. It works pretty well to make them dry relatively slowly to minimize cracks and doesn’t take up freezer space. in a week or 2, I usually sort so stir and fluff the shapings to prevent mold.

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

View LeeMills's profile


702 posts in 2105 days

#10 posted 03-05-2019 04:52 PM

As you can tell there are all types of methods which will work.
What works for me is to cut the log to sections about 4” longer than the diameter. This gives two inches at each end for cracks without changing the size of the potential bow.
Some logs I do cut the pith of about 1/2 -1” each side. For that diameter I line up and just make one cut through the pith just removing the width of the chain saw blade.
I then anchorseal the ends and stack. It’s seldom I have any crack further than two inches in and some have been sitting for 5-6 years.
You will lose some material but it may save more in the long run. You may wind up with some short (7-9”) pieces which you can use for boxes, tea lights, and hundreds of other things.

In your first pic I would split through the pith parallel with the bottom of the pic. Cutting top to bottom may give you larger bowls but they will warp uneven. But you may want them to warp uneven.
The pic with the 1” pin show how I cut that log to have the sides shrink evenly (the log was about 9” wide at the cut).
The other pic of about a 9” diameter holly shows how much it shrank back on itself after splitting.

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

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