Commemorative Bowls: Update 1

Well I certainly have not forgotten about this, but the fact that I still have circa 14 – 16 more days of walking before I finish my walk, so I did not want to go “gung-ho” at this late stage…just yet.

But I have good news. Besides having sufficient pieces of wood to start and finsih this process, an unexpected source of new wood arrived a few weeks back. One of my friends Dave Hutton, who lives about a quarter of a mile away was having two large trees removed. Dave, kindly offered me one of the trees, a large Black Pine. Black Pine or Corsican/Austrian pine is an imported tree popular with the Victorians who planted it in an ornamental capacity in their large grounds. Although, now used in commercial tree plantations, the Black Pine is subject to a disease known as Red Band needle blight. As this tree and another sat next to a busy road, Dave called in professional tree -fellers.

The diameter of the trunk at it’s base was almost  two feet and meant that to get the full benefit of the wood the sections needed to be 24″. The resulting “logs” weighed something like 100 150kg, impossible handle. So I asked that the sections be cut in half down the middle and through the pith, something I would have had to do when I got the wood home anyway. I was thus able to load the sections into my car with the help of Dave. It took most of the day transporting the wood to my home .

I surveyed these huge pieces of wood and decided that the bowls would be too heavy and that Platters ( a sort of large flat dish) would be better. However, the diameter of the pieces would range from 14″ through to 20″, which my wood turning lathe could cope with by turning “off the bed”. The next issue would be safety. My lathe, although variable speed, has a minimum speed limit of circa 550rpm, far to fast to turn these large pieces. So I found a company that offer conversions to give better control of lathe speeds. So I packed my dismantled headstock off to Preston for its conversion. Where it remains as I write.

In preparation for the turning I needed to cut the huge pieces in slabs of wood 4″ thick and has perfectly round as possible. This preparation is critical as  any weight imbalance would be magnified the larger the diameter. Its a bit like balancing the wheels of your car, only with the wood the imbalance would be far more violent and could shake lathe or worst cause the piece to become detached – having a 25kg piece of wet wood flying through the air at you is no laughing matter! So as you can see from the photos below I am preparing and accumulating what look like a set  Cheese Round or Truckle. I’ll continue to prepare the wood until my headstock conversion is ready to collect from Preston.

The Black Pine pieces


Preparing the wood into slabs, lots of chainsawing


A 4″ thick slab of wood
Marking out the size of the platter, this one will be 19″ diameter
Making the wood nice and flat. This Stanley Bailey No. 6 jointing plane was built in 1899. Its one of my prized possessions. I restored it and will continue to use what it was intended for and as tribute to all those who used it before me.
The finished round or truckle. I wrapped it in cling film to try and stop the wood drying out too quickly before I begin turning it.

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