Question on turning crotch blank

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Forum topic by George Pagliarulo posted 04-01-2020 08:00 PM 394 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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George Pagliarulo

19 posts in 809 days

04-01-2020 08:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: blank crotch birch bowl

A very dear friend of my wife died recently. This friend loved Birch trees. I want to turn memorial Birch bowls for my wife, two other close friends and the woman’s son. The photo shows three pieces that I want to use. Three of them are pretty straight forward to trim and get ready for turning. I have never turned anything with a crotch like the front blank. Are there any special considerations to be aware of when I turn this?

-- George Pag

10 replies so far

View doubleG469's profile


930 posts in 1184 days

#1 posted 04-01-2020 08:42 PM

I personally would not “round” it out. I’d throw a wood worm screw in center and work from the bottom to keep the bark on if possible. my .02 cents.

-- I refuse to edit the photo orientation for this website any longer. It’s an issue they should address and correct. Gary, Texas

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George Pagliarulo

19 posts in 809 days

#2 posted 04-02-2020 12:17 AM

Was thinking of that but they have been sitting outside in the mud for a while so the bark is not really worth keeping. I may try a natural edge if it holds up.

-- George Pag

View MrUnix's profile


8013 posts in 2938 days

#3 posted 04-02-2020 08:59 AM

I love turning crotch wood, but got kind of tired of just doing regular bowls, so I’ve been doing live edged winged crotch bowls lately. The wife doesn’t like them and says they are funny looking… I really like them, and tell her that they are ‘unique’! Just something else to consider. Here are a couple of examples:


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

View HokieKen's profile


13632 posts in 1878 days

#4 posted 04-02-2020 01:57 PM

I would put it on the lathe as-is and work slowly. Crotch wood can yield some beautiful grain but it can also be prone to splitting and breaking along the natural grain lines of the Vee. Go slow and try to catch any possible breaks in advance and stabilize them with CA as you progress is my advice.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View PCDub's profile (online now)


177 posts in 984 days

#5 posted 04-02-2020 03:14 PM

Is the wood still solid? Birch tends to go soft really quickly when sitting outside with the bark on. I hope it’s still solid enough to turn—show us what you create!

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George Pagliarulo

19 posts in 809 days

#6 posted 04-02-2020 04:48 PM

It’s still solid. Not sure what you mean “put it on as is”, certainly not put the whole log on the lathe right?
Do you mean cut the blank for the bowl and put it on as a round piece without cutting a flat side to mount it? If I did that I would have to use a screw and with out a flat side there isn’t a lot of contact. Normally I would flatten a side, leaving the blank as thick as possible, then either mount it on a faceplate or screw and turn the outside between centers; then reverse it and mount it to a Chuck to do the inside.
I haven’t turned in quite a while (too many renovation projects going on) so I’ll be turning some practice bowls to get my tool chops back.

-- George Pag

View Wildwood's profile


2854 posts in 2874 days

#7 posted 04-02-2020 07:06 PM

George, have same concerns PCDub asking about looks like whole lot of spalting going on! Would feel better if log sections cut in half just looking end grain am seeing would not get my hopes up. I would not attempt turning end grain bowls for same reason.

Spalted wood can be both blessing & a curse. Sometimes more work than worth, but we are not seeing or touching that wood. So just give it a go!

-- Bill

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George Pagliarulo

19 posts in 809 days

#8 posted 04-02-2020 08:20 PM

I’m not turning an end grain bowl. I will cut the ends off so I end up with a blank as long as it is wide. Then mount it using a center screw. There is some sparring but it doesn’t look like much.

-- George Pag

View mike02719's profile


244 posts in 4525 days

#9 posted 04-02-2020 11:15 PM

The piece on the top looks punky to me. I had some birch trees cut down last Sept. I tried to turn a piece this month and the wood is stringy, soft, and full of live insects. I put the barkless blank in a bag of shavings to see if it would dry and be salvaged. I might be able to do something with the blank itself, but if the bugs survived the turning and finishing and I gave it to someone the screaming would be unbearable if even one came out. These bugs are under black holes in the outer bark. I only see a few on your logs, but look closely for these.

-- Mike, Massachusetts

View Wildwood's profile


2854 posts in 2874 days

#10 posted 04-03-2020 03:24 PM

George, where I live wood lying on the ground exposed to the elements will start spalting in about six months. Some species of wood will take up to two years of ground contact to become so rotten not worth turning and others only six months or less.

Most if not all Birch is perishable, and will readily rot and decay if exposed to the elements. The wood is also susceptible to insect attack.

That’s why you have to have a plan for processing freshly cut down wood for wood turning. Depending upon diameter might want to split, end seal, and store properly protected to the elements.

Biodeterioration of Wood:

Since you did not process those logs would at least split to see if have any usable wood to turn.

Good luck with it.

-- Bill

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