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My Approach to Turning a Large Cedar Burl

In a previous blog post I described turning a large cedar burl and showed the first bowl turned from this amazing white cedar burl. I have now turned a second bowl from this burl and describe the process in this post. Here is a photo of the 2 ft diameter burl with lines drawn to show how I cut if into two slabs, each about 6" thick. The pink lines indicate approximate parallel cuts to give slabs 1 and 2. A previous blog post shows details of turning slab 1.

The images in the gallery below illustrate the turning of slab 2. The first image is of the slab attached to my Stubby lathe using a 6" face plate on the head stock and a live center in the tailstock. The maximum diameter of this slab is 26". Since this slab was located near the bottom of the burl and actually contained part of the log, I was worried about decay and weakness along the areas where the burl and log intersect. You can see the curved dark lines in the images of the completed bowl and these areas were decayed. I spent a lot of time stabilizing these areas with CA glue and fine ground coffee beans. This combination creates a strong black glue that sets up instantly. I wanted to avoid the large burl parts of the bowl from flying loose during the hollowing of the bowl. The same gluing process was used to secure the bark to the bowl. There are two opposite ends of the bowl where there is no bark. This is where the ends of the log show up. I consider these to be handles for the bowl. This fresh turned bowl already shows nice figuring, spalting and chatoyance. You can clearly see where the burl wood meshes with the straight grain wood of the log. These intersection areas show colorful spalting patterns. A bowl like this tells the story of a burl growing along with its log. The bowl has dimensions of 26" to 23" diameter along the top, 4" deep, and ½" wall thickness.


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