Another Black Ash Burl Turned

July 10, 2017

I am working my way through a number of large black ash burls I purchased on a local Indian Reservation. It is exciting since these burls have been showing great grain figuring. The first photo in the following grid shows the complete burl that is about 16" in diameter. The main log had burls wrapping all the way around it. I cut the burly log perpendicular to the axis of the log in preparation for an end-grain turning that would hopefully show a cross section of several burls.  The photos show the piece mounted on the lathe and the process of turning it. The pith of the log is near the center of the bowl and typically this is a problem area, especially in black ash. I include some images of the bottom of the partly turned bowl to show the area of soft punky wood, right in the tenon that will be used for reverse chucking the bowl for hollowing. I saturated this soft area with very thin CA glue to stabilize it. There is always a danger that a tenon will fail while hollowing. I therefore used a live center tail stock to secure the piece at the start of hollowing. This soft area showed up and persisted during the hollowing, especially near the top of the bowl. Fortunately it became less of a problem as I hollowed deeper into the bowl. The second to last photo is a top view of the hollowed out bowl and you can see the punky area right in the bottom, but not so large and easy to stabilize/harden with more CA glue. This burl was turned green so it will need several months drying before sanding. I don't expect problems from the soft area as the hardened area near the pith should sand nicely. This bowl is about 15" in diameter and 7" deep. The last photo shows a side view of the fresh turned bowl. The shape of this bowl evolved from the shape of the burl and my motivation to show the best grain figuring of the wood. I watch grain figuring carefully as I carve the outer profile. The very center of the bowl you find mostly straight grain growth rings, which change into the burl figuring further out from the center. I don't have a predetermined shape in mind but try to avoid klunky shapes. There is dance between great grain and nice form, and sometimes they conflict.

 

 

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