Turning Archive 2004

Subject:
turning green wood ornaments

John Lucas
>I'm always asked if you can turn limb into a turning because they are already round. Well I've found one good project. Ornaments. Here's how I do it.

I mount a short piece of limb between centers. I mount it so the pith is on the centers. Since this is limb stock the pith may be way off center. That's OK as long as there is enough wood left over to make the ornament ball. Round off the wood and turn a tenon on one end if you have a chuck. If you don't have a chuck turn a shorter tenon.

Now you can mount it in the chuck. If you use a faceplate put a waste block on true it up and turn or drill a hole to match the tenon on your limb blank. Now glue it on to the waste block.

Now drill a 3/8" hole through the limb. This removes the pith and lessens the chance of checks. it also is a starter hole for hollowing.

Turn the outside to shape. You may have trouble sanding at this stage because the wood is so wet. I usually ignore this and go on to hollowing the inside. Using a hair dryer at this stage could cause checks in the wood.

Now hollow the ornament. I do this by enlarging the hole in the bottom to about 1/2" and then us my hollowing tools to hollow it out. Since it's so green you will have to clear out the debris more often because it will clog up. Make it fairly thin but I have found keeping the walls uniformly thick is more important than thinness(is that a word)

Now you can sand the outside. It should have dried enough to keep from clogging the paper. I often use an air compressor and blow the water out from inside the ornament. This speeds up the drying. When you sand on the outside you will heat up the wood which can cause checks and warping. Stop and let the wood cool and maybe blow some more moisture out with the compressor.

When you have it sanded put a layer or two of your favorite brew on the ball. Now the important part. let it completely dry. This usually takes 12 to 24 hours. It will usually warp but mostly right at the pith. If you put the finials on at this stage they will sit funny. I true up the top and bottom with either a 2" sanding disc mounted in my drill press or a carving knife. Remove just enough wood to make the finials sit flat. Your done.

You can turn finials out of green wood if you will rive the wood and get rid of the heart. I split smaller limbs into 1/4's and try to stay away from the heart. These work better if they've had a few weeks to dry. They tend to leave fuzzy areas that are hard to cut or sand away when really green. They also usually warp a little because limb stock is reaction wood. This has never caused me a problem as long as you turn and sand a few inches at a time. Then you never go back to the area that twists or warps.

Hope this helps someone. I've had a ball with it.

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