Turning Archive 2005

Turning Musclewood on the pith

Brad Vietje
>Unlike Wally's question about lasers, this really is cheating... I have had pretty good luck turning natural edge vases, end grain bowls, and small hollow forms centered right on the pith, which runs right through the foot. They SHOULD crack, but usually don't, if the turning is thin enough. I do sometimes get one or more very small checks at center, which a drop or two of CA will handle. The trick is to get down to less than about 1/8" thickness.

I recently tried this with a few small pieces of "Musclewood" (a.k.a. American Hornbeam, Blue Beech, and sometimes Ironwood) without much luck. This is not Eastern Hophornbeam (which is called Ironwood around here), but Carpinus carolinia (smooth gray bark, and looks like a very muscular, sinewy forearm. I'd like to figure out what to do with this wood, and take advantage of these really pretty medullary rays radiating out from the pith on an end grain cut.

One option is to turn on the pith, and drill out the central 1/2" - 3/4" or so, and plug it later... any other ideas ?

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