Thursday, April 3, 2014

Scrap Wood Project-What to do with all those branches people give you

Hi Everyone,

If you're like me, you have lots of friends who love to give you branches from their favorite tree in their yard. This of course leaves you with the problem of what to do with it.

Getting branches from friends or finding them along the road can provide you with an interesting array of wood. The problem is what to do with small diameter branches. You can carve a spoon, or make very small boxes like salt cellars out of them but the range of things to make is rather limited.

One thing you can do with them is to turn small flower vases for dried flowers, or weeds, or branches. These were popular back in the 1970s when they were called "weed pots." People made them out of all sorts of different kinds of wood like old fence posts, wooden beams, and tree branches.

I have several branches in the shop that I was on the verge of discarding when I remembered the vases from 40+ years ago and decided to try to make one.

Here's today's photos:

This is a section of a siberian maple from a tree from a friend's yard. This particular wood came from a tree that was root bound and so the tree grew very slowly and as a result, is very, very dense. I've had it for a couple of years and it was dry enough to turn so I cut off a 6 inch section on the bandsaw:

Then I eye-balled the center of the branch and drilled a hole on the top and bottom:

And placed it firmly between centers. The branch isn't uniform in diameter so this is going to be an unbalanced turning:

 Here you can see I've begun to turn the stem portion of the vase. I used an old, roughing gouge to remove the bark as bark can have a lot of grit inside of it and this can be hard on tool edges:

Here it is a couple of minutes later:

Here is the vase after about 10 minutes of turning. The neck of the vase needs to be thinned down:

And this is the vase several minutes later. I used a spindle gouge for most of the turning and then I smoothed with with a fingernail gouge:

And here it is in the shop next to an additional vase out of cherry. I drilled the hole in the neck with a 3/8" twist drill bit on the drill press:

And here is the maple vase with a coat of wipe on polyurethane:

I think the neck of the vase could be tuned down and made a little bit thinner. But I certainly have more branches to practice with!

The weather here has turned really cold again and we're getting a ton of frozen rain right now and the temperature is dropping so that's it for today.

I have to make a trip to the lumber yard tomorrow for more wood so I'll probably see you next week when we talk about rolling pins.

Have a good weekend,

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