Shop Notes

The Process of Woodturning

There is a history of the turning of wood to produce bowls and other items that goes back several hundred years.  Today's woodturners enjoy sophisticated tools and lathes that allow them to produce a variety of wooden objects, from utilitarian salad bowls to unique artistic pieces.

The beginning of this process begins with the acquisition of wood.  In the Haines area there are abundant forests that provide trees for local sawmills, firewood companies and woodworkers like myself.  At times I can buy birch logs from a local sawyer, or I may find myself running the chainsaw  to harvest a tree from a local landowner.  I often use the barter system, paying for the wood with a finished salad bowl or artistic piece.

Once I have acquired a birch log I will cut it into lengths appropriate to the diameter of the log, giving me enough length to make a bowl equal to the log's diameter.  The "rounds" will then sit in stacks around the yard for two years in order for the wood to age and take on the fantastic coloration given  by microorganisms in a process called "spaulting".

After the two year spaulting period I will use a chainsaw to slice the rounds in half and use a bandsaw to trim them into a round shape called a "blank".  These blanks can be mounted on the lathe and with the use of sharp tools will be given the rough shape of a bowl or other item.  The "roughies" are then placed in the kiln and dried over a period of 6 weeks.  At this point they are now dry enough to be finished to final shape and thickness.  The roughies are once again mounted on the lathe and after a final sanding bowls are oiled with mineral oil and olive oil and platters and artistic pieces are finished with shellac, lacquer, or polyurethane.

Tree pictures

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Rough blanks picture

Marble Ulu Description

River picture

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