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Turning Black Walnut Crotches

I have been working on a project to turn black walnut crotches from a customers wood. The fresh cut black walnut came from the Lake Minnetonka (MN) area. Crotches are always interesting. The grain figuring at the intersection of the branches is nice and usually includes feather figuring and chatoyance. The following discussion and images involves four black walnut bowls turned from three crotches.


The first gallery of images shows a large crotch that was split into two similar bookend pieces. You can already see the interesting grain figuring since these pieces were cut exactly down the center of the crotch. Each piece will give a similar sized bowl. This first gallery shows the piece on the left mounted on the lathe and the results of turning. The bowl is about 12" in diameter and 4-5" deep. It has great colors and figuring. I should point out that this is fresh cut black walnut wood so the turned bowls will be slowly dried under controlled conditions of temperature and humidity. They will be partly re-turned when dry, sanded, and oiled. Drying typically takes several months and each bowl is dried to constant weight.


The next gallery of images shows the same turning process for the other bookend piece. This bowl is similar in size to its mate in the first gallery. Both bowls have feather figuring at the crotch intersection in their bottoms, but show their own character on the sides.



The next gallery shows a smaller crotch that has four branches. One bowl was turned from this crotch. The blue circle shows where the crotch was cut to give the piece shown on the late in image two. This piece was chosen to produce a bowl with maximum crotch type figuring. I expected to get a bowl with wild and unusual patterns. The result did not disappoint. The grain is wild with a lot of chatoyance. The bowl is about 10.5" in diameter and 4 - 5" deep.



The next gallery shows another small crotch that has three branches. The first two images show the trimmed crotch on the lathe. The turned bowl is about 9" in diameter and 5 - 6" deep. This bowl has an interesting pattern with feather figuring and a lot of chatoyance. This bowl is deep and the contrast between the rich dark heartwood and the light yellowish sap wood is dramatically beautiful.


I hope these examples inspire wood turners to turn crotches. It is fun to turn crotches in different ways. I always told my wood turning students that a piece of wood can be mounted in any direction on the lathe. You are only limited by your imagination. The next images show a birch crotch turned in a different direction. I turned this one in 2014.



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