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How? or would you turn this

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by William Rogers, Sep 3, 2019.

  1. William Rogers

    William Rogers

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    A fellow wood turner game me a piece of cholla cactus. I guess you can turn cactus. I was thinking of putting a piece of walnut on the top and bottom and maybe a base leaving the outside natural and hollowing the inside. It is somewhat “hard” maybe like punky wood.


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  2. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    I have not turned cactus. Looks interesting.

    I have turned some other non wood plant material including palm, banksia pods, and bamboo.
    The fibers of most palm and banksia are not dense enough to support the fibers for a cut so the fibers bend and tear.
    The cactus photo looks to be non-dense fibers. Stabilizing the fibers will allow a clean cut.
    CA glue usually does the trick. Also light cuts and sharp tools.

    Gluing wood to the top and base is done on most palm turnings.
    Most palm pieces have a real wood top and base because the palm fiber are not dense enough for a rim or foot to take any detail and not tear out. Also the gluing to the wooden base lets the piece be mounted in a Chuck when the tenon is turned in the wood.
     
    William Rogers likes this.
  3. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    I have had a piece of that for 10 or more years.... Still trying to figure out what to do with it....

    robo hippy
     
  4. William Rogers

    William Rogers

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    Hard to imagine anything would have you “stumped” for 10 years!
     
  5. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    The little fibers can be a skin irritant almost like little cactus needles. I agree with Al that stabilizing it would be a good idea.
     
  6. Mark Jundanian

    Mark Jundanian

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    Well, OK, I'll ask. What about cactus juice?
     
    William Rogers likes this.
  7. Lamar Wright

    Lamar Wright

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    Hi William, I've turned many small pieces of Cholla cactus for pens. I used cactus juice to stabilize the cactus. I would fill the holes with colored epoxy or crushed turquoise. Have not tried to turn a piece as large as yours but I'm sure that you shouldn't have turning it as long as you stabilize it....... You could possibly make a nice vase out of it?
     
  8. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I would talk to Curtis Seebeck at TurnTex. I think that he might recommend Alumilite rather than Cactus Juice.
     
  9. Gary Beasley

    Gary Beasley

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    As that piece is too big for any pressure pot Ive seen you would want a very thin material to pour with a slow set time to allow it to penetrate all the little spaces. You would also want to dry the cactus well in the oven before pouring anything on it, moisture and alumilite don't get along well.
     
  10. William Rogers

    William Rogers

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    I appreciate the responses. The theme is stabilization is necessary. I want to leave the outside natural and really don’t have the capability to pour resin to fill the voids. I’ve got some ideas, but not sure they will work. I have thin CA and Minwax hardener. I’ll look for some spalted maple to use for the base and top.
     
  11. Gary Beasley

    Gary Beasley

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    You might try what Ive done with seriously punky wood, saturate it with fast drying varnish over and over again until it is fully saturated and let it dry for a week or two. The varnish dries hard and should stiffen the material up quite a bit.
     
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  12. Arkriver

    Arkriver

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    You might take a look at the cholla blanks that the Bangel Guy sells. I have been around cholla in three states and have never seen it that big. Allyn
     
  13. Joe Sheble

    Joe Sheble

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    Living in Arizona, I have chunks of this sitting all over my yard. If fresh from the outdoors, you'll want to boil it for 10 minutes to get all the little critters out of it, then dry it. I've not turned it directly, but I've embedded it in resin and then turned a dragon egg out of it. I don't have the means of stabilizing myself, but it's something I want to try and cholla is certainly a good candidate.
     

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  14. Robin Thompson

    Robin Thompson

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    I'm with Bill and think Alumilite is the way to go. I use Alumilite a fair bit and color is unlimited.
     

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