The Turning Process

For non turners, I thought I’d share a little about the process and tools that we use.

We start with a chainsaw, pickup/trailer to gather wood from our urban forest.  Your little chainsaw won’t cut it.  This is always time consuming, and can be very frustrating.  Trees that come out in storms can mean nasty weather, but gather it or it is gone.  Trees being taken out for other reasons frequently require last minute changes to plans.  Unhealthy trees can be a complete waste, sometimes all they are is rot.  The wood that we get is very heavy.  Large pieces can weigh 150 lbs. or more.

After we take the wood home, we process the wood into turning stock.  This usually takes a day or two for a trailer load of wood.  I say we, because the pieces are usually too heavy to be handled by one person safely.  The pieces are then sealed with an end grain seal to slow the drying process.

We are finally ready to start turning.  Speed here depends upon the turner.  I don’t focus on speed, but enjoy the process.  Step back and plan the piece that you want to make.  Will it be turned green, or through what is called Twice Turned?  Will it be a bowl, hollow form, lidded box, etc?  For rough turned objects, the turning must now be dried for 3 to 9 months depending upon the type of wood.  Green turning results in oblong turnings.  Sometimes that is ok, but a rocking bowl on the table is not what I’m going for.

After the turning is dry, I re-turn it to final shape.  If I’m embellishing or adding stone I can now start that process.

Finishing and sanding can take me 3 months, depending upon the type of finish.

So, from a tree coming down to a finished product, it is usually at least a year.  Yes, that means I have a stock of wood at various stages of the process.  Lots of space, and time!