Backyard Bowling

May 24, 2009 — Leave a comment

A few weeks ago I had two medium-sized trees taken down in my backyard. Though shade trees, they weren’t providing shade in any meaningful place. In fact, they were fairly useless, dropped these crazy, spikey balls in my neighbor’s lawn, and sat in a corner of the yard where I want to build Ray a fort or clubhouse later this summer. So I decided to have them taken down.

I called an excellent arborist, Chris Regan, who told me the trees were water gums (Tristaniopsis Laurina, formerly Tristania Laurina), and who did an excellent job of sectioning the tree trunks and crotches into manageable chunks, discarding the rest, and grinding the stumps level. If you’re in the Bay Area and are looking to get some tree work done, I highly recommended him.

Tree To Bowl

I’ve just started woodturning (those of you watching my Flickr photostream probably saw the photos of my lathe bench coming together) and this is the first time I’ve turned “green” wood. This is the first bowl to come from those trees, and in these photographs it’s just a rough turning. When you turn green wood, you turn bowls thicker than they’ll end up; while they dry, they warp, then once dry you turn them on the lathe again to finished shape. This bowl will probably take a few months to dry. I’ve got a small stash of 8-10” diameter trunk and crotch pieces which I’ll be cutting into “bowl blanks” over the weekend.

A safety-bespectacled Ray was watching me make the bowl and as the long, stringy pieces of wet wood flew off the lathe, into the air, and landed on the floor, he asked if it was a pasta tree.

For any turners who stumble across this entry, I haven’t found much information on the web on turning this wood. I read somewhere that it was used for miscellaneous items such as golf clubs and riding whip handles. As you can see, it’s very light-colored–an almost creamy color not unlike English boxwood, though who knows what it’ll look like when dry and finished. What you don’t see is the resin which forms on your bowl gouges. If you stop turning for 30 seconds or so, the resin hardens on the bowl gouge tip, so you either have to pry it off quickly or you have to grind it off. Maybe I’ll try burning it off with a lighter or something so I can save some metal.

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