Friday, August 9, 2013

Pine Tree Bowls-Part 2: Turning a test bowl-Discussion, Plans and Process Photos

Hi Everyone,

Back again.

I have been wanting to turn a bowl out of green, unseasoned pine wood for a while now. I like to turn pine. It's pretty and it makes very solid bowls and plates. It does have some drawbacks:

Pine has a lot of knots. Knots can be a real problem-they can come flying out of the wood while it's turning and leave a large empty hole in your turning, and it can shatter too because knot wood is very hard. Knots can also cause a lot of cracking in finished pieces.

It contains a lot of pitch and resin-this is a natural part of the wood. It can make a mess in the shop.

It shrinks a lot. Well, hell, all unseasoned wood shrinks. Not a reason not to use it.

I have worked with pine since childhood. And even though I have moved on to harder more exotic woods, I still have a soft spot for pine and I'll always turn it if given the chance.

When I saw the large pine tree trunk sections last night, I knew my chance had arrived to turn some larger bowls.  So here we go:

Here is the blank on the lathe. It's between centers and I'm going to begin at about 300rpm as it's unbalanced:

The wood is absolutely loaded with water. In fact there is so much water in it, that the characteristic pine scent that is normally very strong, is very faint. I think the water in the wood had diluted it. It's also very soft and the wood just peeled off. It's looks like I'm turning a potato:

In this shot, you can see the bowl beginning to take shape: 

Here is a photo of my face mask. I had to stop about once a minute to dry it off:

The next two photos show the bowl really beginning to take shape:

Time to begin shaping the bottom and the foot:

In this photo you can see a rudimentary foot. I've also drawn an arrow on the bowl. I'm going to turn until the bottom end of the arrow mets up with the top surface of the bowl blank:

And here is the side of the bowl:

Time to refine the foot:

I've taken the bowl blank off and here it is. This took about 30 minutes to turn. The sides are really rough so when I reverse the bowl blank and place it back on the lathe, I'll be shaving the surface with a very sharp bowl skew:

This is the top of the blank. You can see a knot in it. This will turn away as I work:

Time to flip it over and hollow it out some:

And this is about 30 minutes later: 

This is the bowl with a rock in it for comparison:

And this is the side: 


Well, this was like cutting a big potato! It has a lot of water inside of it and this is consistent with a tree that came down in a rain storm. But this also presents a problem: drying. This little bowl will twist itself into pretzel as it dries and it may crack so I'm thinking the best thing to do is after dinner go down to the wood shop and soak it in Pentacryl, which is a wood stabilizer. This will replace the water in the bowl and help it not to distort or crack while it's drying. So into the Pentacryl for 3 days and then in the drying bag for several weeks. We'll take another look at this fellow towards the end of this month.



  1. That looks really beautiful. The "stripes" (I don't know the correct word for it in english) look really nice! I hope it will dry without any cracking! :)

  2. Hi Saaara,
    Actually, I took a look at the bowl this morning and decided to turn it some more and then place it in a microwave oven. It came out steaming and it's making crackling-type noises.
    Stay tuned-I'lll post a picture soon.