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Cracked up

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I had occasion to do some turning this weekend with less-than-satisfactory results. I blame the wood, but it was really my own fault – I rushed things.

I got a turning blank of a wood species last week that I’d never used before. It’s called cebil, or sometimes Patagonia rosewood. Hard and dense and nicely figured, I couldn’t wait to cut a section of the blank and throw it on the lathe to turn a small lidded bowl. And therein was the problem.

As with a lot of turning blanks you buy, this one wasn’t completely seasoned. I’ve turned green wood before, and it’s a joy to use. Just the experience of shooting up long, continuous ribbon-like threads from the tip of the chisel is reason enough to give green turning a try.

But for dense hardwood like this, turning before the blank is completely seasoned is a no-no. I knew this, but because I was impatient, I went ahead and turned it anyway. What a mistake. As the blank spun, cracks began to appear. And as it took on its bowl-like shape, it just as quickly started to lose it – my round bowl started becoming oval before I was finished.

Naturally, between those cracks and the misshapen turning, the chisel kept catching. Not one to give up I kept trying to correct it, which was another mistake. The end result was that the bowl looked terrible, the constantly shifting shape meant it was pointless to turn a lid, and those cracks just kept getting bigger. After wasting a lot of time and effort, I finally scrapped it.

I still have plenty of that blank left, and I’ve put it away for another day. By then it should be properly seasoned. And maybe by then I’ll be smarter and not rush things that shouldn’t be rushed.


Till next time,


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