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Seeking advice on processing large white oak bowl blanks

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Lou Jacobs, Jul 23, 2020.

  1. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    5E6BB1E3-5ACC-4AB9-A075-FD3791CB57B2.jpeg I’ve just come in from several hours working on a 25” diameter x 30” piece of white oak. A developer is preparing to build on a lot behind us, and had an arborist take down several large trees. My eyes are often bigger than my stomach, and that was the case today. Hard to resist something like this. I have a lathe with a 20” swing and was able to cut two large rounds that are 20” by about 9” thick, as well as several more 10 and 12” blanks. After all the work that went into getting these out, I wonder the best way to use them. Would you rough turn something now, or just coat them and wait? I have a new McNaughton tool, and could try coring them, but am not yet proficient enough to be sure I won’t waste these huge blanks. I’m curious to hear your advice. Thanks loads!
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
  2. Brandon Sloan

    Brandon Sloan

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    I’d rough them if you have the time. As far as the mcnaughton goes, I don’t own one but I have watched a few videos on its use. If I was in your situation I’d core them. Call the arborist or bring them a turned item. Before you know it, you’ll have plenty of free blanks. It’s a nice score, but don’t treat it like it’s your last score. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
     
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  3. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    Brandon, one of the arborists came into my shop. He had asked if I was working on firewood, and I tried to explain that I make bowls. (He was not an English speaker). He didn’t seem to get that, so I invited him in. I wound up giving him one which made him very happy. A while later my wife came out with a dozen giant chocolate chip cookies she had baked for the crew. (It was 95° out and high humidity. I think cold sodas or beers might have been appreciated too, but the cookies seemed to be a hit). I agree that I have to keep in mind that there’s always more wood, and not be afraid to experiment.
     
  4. Brandon Sloan

    Brandon Sloan

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    Hey Lou, that’s awesome. I am guilty of stressing out over a nice find more often than not. I was just trying to encourage. Easier said than done after you’ve already spent a couple of hours processing!
     
  5. Dave Delo

    Dave Delo

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    Maybe it's the picture but that looks larger than 25" diameter to me! Nice find.
     
  6. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    Dave, I’m just 4’8” tall. Just kidding. It is bigger than 25” at the butt end, more like 29”, but just about 25” at the end closest to the camera. It’s beautiful, straight grained wood. I also got a few smaller pieces with beautiful feather figure from crotch pieces. I made this platter from the center waste piece just to show off the figure. 6689BC32-C2BE-4FA9-9259-33CB085963EF.jpeg
     
  7. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Good find.
    I don’t think you will have much success drying white oak rounds.

    I suggest you rough turn and core if possible the bowls soon and dry them in whatever manner works for you.

    you can dry some spindle stock. 2x2, 3x3,

    i have air dried a w 4 x 6 x 4ft white oak. Coated the endgrain with anchor seal and it took about 4 years.
    Lost about 4” off each end due to checking
     
  8. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    I imagine you’re correct. I’ll try to give one of them a go tomorrow, if it cools off a bit. My shop is not air conditioned, so I’ll see if it is tolerable. I don’t want to wait too long.
     
  9. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

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    20200723_195518-1.jpg 20200723_195651-1.jpg U can store in closed drum for several months....put as many oak blanks as will fit.....say 3 or 4 months.....do not have to coat.....some will crack most will not...when turn wood will still be moist....i like cardboard cylinder with metal ends....need to use wood that is cut down that day to put in barrels.....
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
  10. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

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    the blank for bowl was given to me by Chester Lane, shop teacher @ my high school when I 1st started turning.....2 other oak hf were dried and turned by me...he put me onto the barrel application
    RIP
     
  11. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

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    One more.....fun fun 20200723_211047-1.jpg
     
  12. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    Just don't put them in a steel drum. White oak is really acidity. Maybe there isn't enough oxygen in a steel drum to stain the wood, but I wouldn't want to try it.
     
  13. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Hope you get a couple done early.
    I know what you mean. Lived in Annapolis for 30 years. It gets a lot hotter in MD than central Florida.
    Those 98-102 heat waves are brutal.
     
  14. Donovan Bailey

    Donovan Bailey

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    In full consideration of the killer heat we are having...I think that I would chainsaw blanks out of that pretty hunk of oak and plop the blanks into trashcans/barrels of water until I could rough them out at my semi-leisure. If the heat is too daunting, I would paint the ends and do my best to get it out of the direct sunlight.
     
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  15. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

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    I turned all oak to final thickness.....no twice turning....the bowl has warped 1/8 to 1/4 over time....it was couple years before I noticed..... the hf I have not noticed any warpage
     
  16. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    BowlWO.JPG
    This bowl came from a large piece near a cotch bark inclusion and that is the natural edge. The piece was rough turned and left to dry for about a year.
    The piece that you have I would probably halve down the pith or maybe cut a 2 - 3" slab with the pith in the middle. If slabbing out the pith you could make turning squares from the slab and shallow bowls from the sides. The best approach is to turn as soon as possible however I was given a a 7' long X 30" diameter white oak log that had been laying on the ground for about 2 1/2 years and other then end checking the wood was sound.
     
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  17. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    I have a video up about using the McNaughton. I suggest starting off with smaller blanks to learn how to use the tool. Trying to core 20 inch blanks for your first attempts is really difficult, even if you have some one there to mentor you on using the tool.

    I also would suggest turning bowls as soon as you can. The log will keep better in hot and humid than it will in hot and dry. Making quarter sawn blanks, with the center of the tree being the bottom of the bowl or platter, will show some fantastic medullary rays/flecking. Make a bunch of smaller pieces.... I did make a couple of really big bowls, and they never sold. Most of mine were 14 inch diameter or less.

    robo hippy
     
  18. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    This might be possible however it would have to be very thin such that it could still move without cracking. According to Hoadley's "Understanding Wood" the tangential shrinkage is 10.5%, radial is 5.6% and linear is 1.8% of white oak. The jacket of the book has an illustration of the effect of shrinkage caused cup in lumber. A slice off the end of a red oak log had lines all the way across and parallel, the line through the pith was band sawn from one side to the pith (to control the crack), then the piece was dried to 4% and a large V opened up. The photo is a good indication of what happens when the pith is left in. Note the book was published in 1980 and of course has all of the restrictions about copying without permission otherwise I could have included a photo of the jacket.
     
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  19. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

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    agree greatly Don with any oak....Lou does not show after several days of his beautiful waste wood platter if it stayed together without cracking.....thin or not oak is oak
     
  20. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    I spent several hours today, (It was a cool 85°) rough turning a few of the pieces. I decided to split the rounds in half to make four rounds that are 20” in diameter by a bit over 4” thick, and then rough turned large shallow bowls from these. My logic is that these will be more practical than very large, deep bowls. I did rip the central slab into 3x3 spindle blanks, sealed the ends with Anchorseal, and put them away to dry. I think I wound up with 7 of them after cutting out the pith. The platter in post #6 above was from a different log. It is about 12” in diameter, and while it is from the pith waste section, I was able to turn it to eliminate the pith. It is only about 1/2” thick, and is now a week or so old. It did cup a bit in the first few days of drying, but has now mostly relaxed a bit, and the cupping, while noticeable, is certainly not too bad. I’m hopeful that it won’t split.
    Robo, I did watch your McNaughton video a couple of times and it is very helpful. I think practicing on smaller blanks is a good suggestion. I’ll give it a go once it cools off again in a few days (hopefully!). I also followed your advice, also heard in a Glen Lucas workshop I attended in Saratoga last year, about orienting the bowls with the bottom toward the inside of the slab. The concentric ovals in the pieces are so much more striking than when turned the other way around.
    Thanks all, for your thoughtful suggestions!
     
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  21. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

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    updates every 3 or 4 days pics .....interesting to follow your journey with oak.....i ended wearing glove on left hand while roughing oak
     
  22. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    Charlie, not sure how much progress I’ll have in 3 or 4 days, but I’ll certainly post updates. Funny that you made your comment about a glove. I saw an orthopedist for a cortisone injection in my right thumb on Tuesday. She also prescribed a brace - neoprene and Velcro with an aluminum insert to support an arthritic joint. I tried using it today with a fingerless glove over it to try to keep sawdust and shavings from adhering to the fuzzy neoprene/Velcro surface. It wasn’t too bad and didn’t seem to get in the way of turning.
     
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  23. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    It is not just oak but any wood
     
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  24. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    Charlie, you asked for pictures. I need to clean up the shop after an intense day of rough turning, but here are a few to document my progress.These are two rough turned, about 19” by 4”. One with the bottom toward the center of the tree, and the other with the bottom on the outside of the tree. A6CF19E2-93F0-4517-8DDB-6C2CD8ED97DB.jpeg 3CD72996-2D8B-466F-A883-69A785186DDB.jpeg and here are what’s on deck next, to rough turn and seal before they start to crack. I’m now swimming in bowl blanks, but I guess that’s a good thing, right? I need a bigger shop, or at least more wood storage.
     
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  25. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    6D93F9BE-634A-4B93-B384-24D037559933.jpeg And a stack of 3x3” x 30” spindle blanks waiting to be stickered and put away for future projects.
     
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  26. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    After thought..... Oak is a bad wood, when turning green to final thickness, for metal stains... Any powder left on your hands and on your tools will show up as little black dots. Not sure how bad it is when you twice turn. I am in the habit, when turning Madrone, of wiping my hands and tools off with the wet shavings before going back to the wood for finish cuts. I have had all sorts of finger prints and spots on bowls when I get ready to sand them. If the wood is still green, some concentrated lemon juice will remove the spots almost instantly. If the wood is dry, it takes longer, and may take repeated applications, and the lemon seems to bleach out the dried wood color, so then you have streaks instead of dots...

    robo hippy
     
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  27. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    Boy, I’ve sure discovered that! I come in from the shop with black hands. I’ve not noticed fingerprints on the wood, and have finished several smaller pieces of white oak in the past with no noticeable black stains, but I’ll watch for it now, as it is suddenly a large percentage of my wood reserves. Thank you for that heads up!
     
  28. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    So here is a tangential question: when you seal (I’m using Anchor Seal), do you seal the entire piece, or just end grain? On smaller pieces I’ve been pretty liberal with the sealer, but on these larger ones, I’m more inclined to just seal exposed end grain. Am I inviting trouble?
     
  29. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    I have had good luck just using the Anchor Seal on the end grain inside and out, which on side grain bowls takes up about 200 degrees of the circumference.
     
  30. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    I believe that is the tannin, which will be present in oak without any embedded iron. The little black spots seam to appear as the moisture is escaping so if you turn thin enough that it drys as you finish the turning it does not happen I think, at least not for me. The pictured bowl has a wall thickness of less than 1/16th".
    PedestalBowlRedOak.JPG
     
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  31. Donovan Bailey

    Donovan Bailey

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    Lou, nice work on the rough-outs but the pics also lead me to see that you are absolutely starving to death for some wood to turn. Mercy. I would bet that you have some stashed in your bedroom closet (ha). I seal the entire bowl especially when we have temps in the 90s like we have been. This dry heat we have been having sucks the moisture out of the wood just too fast. Also, a ton of work goes into roughing out the pile you have...so why not do everything you can to save as much as you can? My comment would maybe be different if we were late fall/winter.
     
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  32. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    I agree Donovan. My wife walks through our neighborhood and tells me whenever she sees arborists at work. I told her yesterday, “no more new wood.“ I’ve got no place to put it, and have to get some of this underway. It is just so damn hard to pass up when I see something beautiful being cut down.
     
  33. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    I didn't think it was possible to have to much wood Ya know like to many tools!
     
  34. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    PS Donovan: the bedroom closets are for the finished bowls! I give away as a many as I can, but it’s become laughable how many bowls, plates, and platters are kicking around the house. I suppose one day, when I feel I am good enough, I can sell them, but right now that feels unrealistic. So bowl blanks pile up in the shop, and bowls in the house. Yes, Don, can’t ever have too many tools. Thank goodness the wood is (mostly) free. This “hobby” is expensive enough. I’m about to post another question on the site about upgrading my shop with A/C. Does it ever end?
     
  35. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    I have had good luck ( at least 95%) with paper bags - but I only do a few double turned bowls each year.
    Too much work for large volumes because you have to swap the wet bags for dry bags for the first 5-7 days until the bags are dry when you check them.
    I used to use anchor seal but bowls took 8-12 months to dry.
    Paper bagged bowls are dry in 6-8 months
     
  36. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    I have had the luck of getting a 19 inch Live Oak thinking of platters. Have dealt with it in the past and movement was expected. Tried turning to 1.5 inch waxed and put aside. After 2 weeks started to crack so turned to 3/8 and bagged. It tried to turn into a taco so I used cauls and wet the topside. This worked to get it close to flat so I tried it on the other side of the tree and it is in cauls now.

    The picture is of a=my first experience was going to be twice turn. Well the movement was too much for what I left so it looked like a football with a basketweave kind of finish. Verdict is Turn to Finish is the way to go. IMG_4334.jpg
     
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  37. Hugh

    Hugh

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    Lou,
    I live on the west coast. The White Oak we have here the most is "Valley Oak". Big, old trees.
    I have gotten some in the past and had poor luck with the twice turning due to cracks and twisting. I have had such poor luck with it, that I do not get it anymore. Just too much time to rough out and the seal up and have the darn thing crack.....big cracks. I would paint sealer over the whole thing....two coats.
    That being said.....Mike Mahoney, cuts 1/4 sawn platter blanks from the logs. He seals them and they seem to work for twice cut platters. Actually, very nice as the ray pattern is pretty good on 1/4 sawn.
    Good luck.
     
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