Turning Archive 2006

Platter Blank prep/rough out problems/cracks

Devon Palmer

I've been experiencing a 50% loss rate on my platter blanks. I've been cutting 2-3" thick disc's off of my bowl blanks to get a platter and a shallow bowl (stuff thats 14" and greater). It all comes from trunkwood and is "almost" quartersawn (off to one side of the pith). I mount the platter blank between centers and cut a slight tenon, put it in a chuck, and get it round and perfectly flat removing any remaining pith (and actually cutting beyond it at least 1/2 inch).

So, visualize a flat disc of wood, with a shallow 5" tenon on the back side. I wax this completely, throw it in a bag for 30-45 days (when its dry out Winter/summer) then pull it out and let it air dry for a year or two depending on the wood (usually maple, some poplar and a little cherry/black Walnut). During this time, I keep it close to the ground and out of a draft.

They typically split close to the center where the grain is longest, 2-3 months after they are roughed out. It doesn't seem to be related to the pith as its usually off to one side or the other. If I make them any thinner, they "potato-chip" out of shape so badly, I can't get a platter out of it any more. The larger the platter, the worse it tends to be.

What am I doing wrong? Do I just need to use bigger trees to get something that is completely quartersawn?

- Devon Palmer, Columbus, Ohio

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