Turning blanks from logs

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akirk

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I have a range of logs I have recently acquired and I am not sure what I should do with them - ideally I want to be able to turn them at some point so spindles or bowl blanks would be great…

Some are maybe 4” across - branches from small trees - some are much bigger (cf photos below)

As I understand it, to prepare blanks you slice along the log either side of the pith - discard the pith and then the two sides give you bowl blanks - but what do you do if it is too small a diameter - do you keep the pith / just cut radially across the branch?

I only have a small bandsaw (sabre 250) but I have friends with chainsaws…

All thoughts welcomed - wood ranges from apple to cherry - car full of lime, ash, acer and possibly some oak to come…

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If you want to split them down the length then do so. Then seal the ends with any old paint you happen to have lying around. The idea is to slow down the water loss so that the wood dries slower & doesn't produce the stresses caused by rapid moisture loss. No need to seal the cut faces as very little moisture escapes through them.

Tip 026 - Straws.jpg

The straws are like the form of a log & show why the moisture escapes from the ends & not the sides or lengthwise cuts.
You only need to remove the pith on larger logs as it will probably be lost when splitting & will be turned away on smaller ones.
If the pith is off centre then the cut line shoud be the pith to centre line to give equal sized halves.
 
Thank you both - so if I take a smaller branch, and just cut radial chunks, will there not logically be pith in the centre throughout and therefore through the foot of a bowl etc.? If that doesn't matter - at what size does it matter, or does one just cut them along the axis where big enough and all others cut radially?
 
Don't get too focussed on the 'pith' - get the logs split in half and rough turn them without delay (that'll take care of the pith). Store the roughturned blanks for 12 to 18 months in a dry atmosphere and then re-chuck and turn to finished dimensions. Alternatively, turn in a 'green' state (before cracking sets in) and give them the 'microwave' treatment (lots of examples on YouTube done by masters like Raffan etc) ...
 
I forgot to say that if you decide not to split the logs then the rule is to leave them as long as you can for as long as you can.

The attached PDF on log orientation by Chas Jones may be helpful.
 

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Hi Akirk, I was given a piece of Apple in the form of a 1m log with a diam of approx 15cm. I turned a number of small dishes/bowls. You can do a number of things to maximise the size of the finished piece. Like others have suggested cut down the pith, to get that tension out. However, you can make an asymmetric cut and leave the pith on , which would allow you to have a small tenon to attach to your chuck, or you could apply a wooden glue block. I turned these little fellows (approx 12cm diam) from the Apple piece green and used my wood kiln to dry (which did not take long) and finish off. They make great little gifts for friends and family.
 

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It is also possible to turn bowls or taller vessels from the full width log. I have a large jar shaped container I turned this way, on my desk as I type. Michael O'Donnell, in his book "Turning Green Wood" calls these end-grain bowls, where the orientation of the grain runs from the top to the bottom of the bowl , rather than from side to side.
 
.......

As I understand it, to prepare blanks you slice along the log either side of the pith - discard the pith and then the two sides give you bowl blanks - but what do you do if it is too small a diameter - do you keep the pith / just cut radially across the branch?
These pieces are already "blanks". Just need trimming in various ways to make them turnable, once you have decided what you want to make with them. Can be turned green. I'd just get stuck in with some of the simpler shapes - square off the ends and mark centre points etc.
 
Always the option to embrace the ‘pith’ it’s all part of the tree .
As long as you are competent, winged bowls work well with branch wood .
I’ve tried to insert some pic but can’t work out how 🤔 what’s changed ??
 
Lots of good ideas here. I encourage you to get on with sealing end grain cuts to reduce splits as soon as you can unless you intend to turn immediately. You can use old paint so nothing is lost even if you make new cuts. Newly felled timber can start to develop splits almost overnight, as I know to my cost. Depends a bit on species and time of year.
Now I try to seal as soon as it is cut. Short term, a day or few, a bin bag cover is OK to slow the drying process.
 
Over herein spain I get my fire wood as Oak and Olive. Its normally been cut for 2 years and is either 30 cms long or 50 cms depending on what I order.

I've pulled out what I feel are the nicest pieces over the last 3 years since I bought my Record Coronet Herald,

Any advices on how long I should keep them before using them please,they are all split logs normally, I have written on the end grain of each piece the year I have laid it down on a pallet in my garage.

Thank you

Neil.
 
Well we spent this afternoon with a chainsaw - pile of wood reduced a bit - some cut lengthwise to get bowls out of - some cut cross grain as rounds a few gorgeous pieces of oak with amazing decoration on them cut at 1 inch plus to make cheese boards etc - the rest of the wood will go to firewood! All the cut wood has now ben sealed with PVC glue - some smaller lengths left to play with on the bandsaw and see if I can make spindles from them...

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Last edited:
I have a range of logs I have recently acquired and I am not sure what I should do with them - ideally I want to be able to turn them at some point so spindles or bowl blanks would be great…

Some are maybe 4” across - branches from small trees - some are much bigger (cf photos below)

As I understand it, to prepare blanks you slice along the log either side of the pith - discard the pith and then the two sides give you bowl blanks - but what do you do if it is too small a diameter - do you keep the pith / just cut radially across the branch?

I only have a small bandsaw (sabre 250) but I have friends with chainsaws…

All thoughts welcomed - wood ranges from apple to cherry - car full of lime, ash, acer and possibly some oak to come…

View attachment 173572
View attachment 173573
 
that all looks very nice. were abouts in the world are you would love to come and see you about sharing, especially the4" / 6,t"
 
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