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End grain live edge bowls

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Jason Goodrich, Sep 6, 2020.

  1. Jason Goodrich

    Jason Goodrich

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    Today I tried an experiment turning an end grain bowl with live edge from the base of a dead birch tree that a friend had just cut down. It turned out very pretty, but is already cracking in the bottom as I had expected.

    I have seen a few end grain bowls, usually from a softwood. What experiences have you all had with turning like this?
     

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  2. Lamar Wright

    Lamar Wright

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    I've turned a few end grain bowls with some success. What is important the moister content of the piece should be very, very low or better yet 0%. If not it will start cracking form the pith. That is a very nice end grain bowl, you did a very good job on the piece. Well done!
     
  3. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    Super consistent thin wall thickness is critical. The profile you show appears to have a smoother flow in the inside and more vertical exterior, which winds up leaving thicker sections in the base. Too much speed and pressure during sanding can build a lot of heat and cause cracking. Finally it's not at all unusual for center cracking to already be there in standing dead trees. Even the felling process can add cracks. So minor cracking is not unusual. Trying to remember, but don't think I've done an end grain bowl in my 35 years of turning.
     
    charlie knighton likes this.
  4. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Nice looking bowl. This orientation presents a dilemma thick enough to not break and it cracks. Turned thin enough to not to crack and it is very weak and prone to splitting from handling - pick it up with One hand on the rim and you may be holding a piece of rim.

    Minimizing or eliminating cracking of wet wood with the pith in depends on two things.
    Thin walls and a curve into the pith.
    When drying each growth ring shrinks a little bit more than the one inside it.
    If a growth ring can push the one inside outward it doesnā€™t have to crack

    this sweet gum bowl is turned in the opposite orientation to yours but is shows the outward push of the growth rings.
    71694A6E-E544-46C6-8D3D-CBDCA0D8F3E5.jpeg Here you see the curve is messed up by the protrusion 675D4ECD-1350-4EEF-837D-8421967DD926.jpeg


    this is shape thin enough not to crack and has enough long grain in the side walls not to break if picked up from the rim. This is a holy vase my wife turned 6-7ā€ diameter about 9ā€ tall.
    Pith is outside of the stem in the pointy bottom where it can push out as needed.
    47BD0147-7783-4DF0-A4C1-C960AFEEE2E6.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
  5. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    I have had done luck lately. The thing that helped me is to saturate the bottom with CA. Mark Sillay did this in demo on end grain turning and it works. Still allows the pucker that Al referred to but cracks are minor at most. The second pic of hollow form turned the bottom too thin and while on vacuum chuck opened a very small crack which black CA took care of . Both are Live Oak cut back in March. C977EBFC-227E-42AA-B1A0-353AB118D24B.jpeg 6422C81B-F951-4FED-9321-778CC6278B43.jpeg
     
  6. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    Is there such a thing as 0% MC? Here, Maui, bone dry Koa is 14% MC.
     
  7. Lamar Wright

    Lamar Wright

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    Hello Emiliano, here in the deep south and being close to the Gulf of Mexico we have very high humidity in the Summer months. Winter months not so much. I have two dehumidifiers in my small shop that run year round and it keeps the humidity about on average 25 to 30%. Most bowls I turn are very dry, around 5 to 10% MC. Yes, you are right, I doubt you can get a bowl to 0%? Happy turning!
     
  8. Lamar Wright

    Lamar Wright

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    Hello Emiliano, here in the deep south and being close to the Gulf of Mexico we have very high humidity in the Summer months. Winter months not so much. I have two dehumidifiers in my small shop that run year round and it keeps the humidity about on average 25 to 30%. Most bowls I turn are very dry, around 5 to 10% MC. Yes, you are right, I doubt you can get a bowl to 0%? Happy turning!
     
    Emiliano Achaval likes this.
  9. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    • The reality of natural edge end grain bowls is the pith is in there.
    • The next reality is you can not dry a blank with the pith in it without it cracking.
    • The only way to be successful is to turn green (as in water getting all over your face shield).
    • The next requirement is thin uniform walls all the way to the pith. (Note: Hockenbery already pointed this out).
    • The uniform walls are a problem for an end grain bowl because if you need a foot it will make the bottom too thick to allow the movement necessary.
    • The photo shows my solution which I call a "pedestal bowl" (Ya I know it looks like an overgrown goblet).
    • 8071PedBowla.jpg This bowl is northern red oak and measures about 8" diameter X about 10" high with a wall thickness of less than 1/16".
    • The base is also undercut so that it would not crack.
    • The stem is about 3/8" diameter and does not contain the pith but it did have some built in stress that tipped the bowl some.
     
    charlie knighton likes this.
  10. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    What is a reality for you, might not be for someone like me living in Hawaii, next to the rain forest. I can dry anything without cracking. And if it cracks, I'm happy, the price goes up when I add pewa patches. I have done hundreds, if not thousands of bowls of all sizes and types with the pith, most of the time, it doesn't crack. My best-seller, the Kuoho calabash is made from a crotch, so I have 3 end grain areas with the pith, I would say 70% of the time I have no cracks, although I need some to add lots pewas. NE bowls are the best sellers at the gallery where I sell my work.
     
  11. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    Ya I can believe that to a certain degree but the subject is end grain natural edge bowls, so have you ever tried that in paradise.
     
  12. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    There are too many variables to say something for certain when it comes to woodturning. I can make an endgrain Milo natural edge bowl and won't crack or even move. if I try to make one out of Macadamia it will crack within minutes. That's my point, and you missed it, there are too many different types of woods and climates zones. Even here, down by the beach is a different climate, we have 7 different climate zones on our island.
     
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  13. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    Point taken and accepted, although around here its been said that the climate is cold and colder. Of all the species available in my area I don't think any of them would work for an end grain bowl of the type that started this thread, especially birch.
     
  14. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    I have been thinking about how to do an end grain bowl in the species I have readily available. Recently I cut down a live red oak tree that was just too close to my driveway and noticed that it is solid throughout. I had cut some of it into 16" lengths for fire wood but then I decided to try a shrink box so I cut about 5" off one end. The 5" long by 10" diameter looked to good to burn so I mounted it with a wood worm screw and the tailstock live center and turned the outside contour with a dove tail ring tenon. The inside is hollowed to a wall thickness of 3/16" and then I jam chucked it to finish the 4 feet that are cut from the ring tenon. The wood is very wet still so I will wait till it dries to clean up the feet and the area between them. Time will tell if I got it thin enough to dry without checking.
    endgrainbowl1.jpg endgrainbowl2.jpg endgrainbowljam.jpg
     

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