Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Working with green wood

This past week I have been working with some 'green' yellow birch. When woodturners use the term 'green' they are referring to wood which has been recently cut and is not yet dry.

In this instance the wood was cut last summer and delivered to me as short logs. The ends had been sealed with a wax emulsion. This slows down the drying process and minimizes cracking. Even so, because it has taken me all this time to get around to doing anything with it, there were some checks in the end of each log. Fortunately they hadn't gone too deep, and there wasn't too much waste.

I have just finished turning what I call a 'green' bowl. It was turned from start to finish while the wood is still damp, and will now be left to dry slowly. By leaving the walls of the bowl thin they will distort as the wood dries, rather than crack. That's the theory anyway, but one can never be too sure. I have now wrapped the bowl up in newsprint, and will leave it to dry slowly for a few weeks before removing the paper. When finished, it will not be perfectly round, but will have gone slightly oval and the rim will not be flat. Neither will the bottom of the bowl, so I will remount it on the lathe and trim the bottom so it will sit properly on your table.

One of the beauties of working with green wood is the lovely long wide shavings that stream effortlessly off of the chisel. This picture shows some ofthe shavings I picked up from the workshop floor today. Once dry, these shavings make great kindling for the wood stove.

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