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Smells of turning fresh cut wood

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Jason Goodrich, Sep 12, 2020.

  1. Jason Goodrich

    Jason Goodrich

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    I am working my way though a bunch of cherry I cut last week. I love the way it makes my shop smell. My 6 year old made it clear he does not agree. Anything smells better than the fresh elm I turned a few months ago, that stuff was nasty. I have had a couple types recently that my wife described as smelling like pumpkin guts.

    What wood have you turned that made your shop smell really good or really bad?
     

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    Charles Cadenhead likes this.
  2. John Dillon

    John Dillon

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    I really love the way Cherry smells too. Always reminds me of both of my Grandpa's who were both pipe smokers and packing cherry-flavored tobacco. For whatever reason, nothing smells better to me than walking into a woodshop and smelling the variety of woods that have had their aromas co-mingled over the days/weeks. When I started turning I was really kind of surprised how much more pungent the fresh-cut wood was than kiln dried. Makes sense anyway. Some of my first bowls were made from Ash. That wood kind of reminds me of the mash in a brewery? One of the more pungent smells I've found is from English Walnut, very distinctive and really not that pleasant. Love the way it turns and the grain is awesome anyway. Haven't found anything I can't tolerate the smell of as it's all good and a lot of fun.I turn mostly domestic wood so can't speak for too many of the exotics.
     
  3. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    I’ve been turned off by the smell of box elder. Sort of like eating a durian (I’m told. I’ve never had one). If you can get past the smell, the taste is terrific!
     
  4. Ricc Havens

    Ricc Havens

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    Try some camphor. It will make your house smell like Vick's vapor rub. very crips and clears the sinuses.
     
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  5. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    Ricc, probably an issue more for a psychotherapy forum than a woodturning one, but I grew up with my mother putting mothballs in all the drawers and closets. The smell of mothballs still, 50 years later, brings that back, not in a good way. Don’t get me wrong, it was not an unhappy childhood - quite the opposite, but I knew walking around that I smelled of mothballs. I’d rather deal with natural “unpleasant” smells, and a few moth holes!
     
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  6. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    I have never turned any camphor, but I have turned some small pieces in lilac, which smells like camphor when first cut into.
     
  7. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    Your analysis is interesting, however box elder only looks terrific for a short time unless you pack it away from sunlight, but then whats the point of using it.
     
  8. John Walls

    John Walls

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    Brings to mind what I did 3 weeks back. Storm knocked down a large box-elder tree. I cut it up, took some choice pieces and lots of burls home/stored in the shed. Lots of red, nice looking pieces. Anywayz, the following day I split the rest up for the old guy and stacked it. Went back out 1 week later, all the red was gone, not a single trace of red. Only took one week for the color to disappear. I'm thinking I need to dig into my wood to see if the red is gone from mine. It's in a drying shed but the front is open so indirect daylight gets in.
     
  9. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    I do love the smell of cherry, which smells like cherries. Apple doesn't smell like apples, but has kind of a yeast type scent. Myrtle/California Bay Laurel tends to smell kind of like a sweet bar b que sauce. Some maple can smell kind of yeast like as well. Some maple, if it is getting old smells sour, and that smell never seems to go away. I had some chinkapin, local ever green nut, aka golden chestnut that was 100 years old and kind of smelled like a whiskey barrel. Cottonwood smells like some one threw up. Sassafras has a wonderful rootbeer type smell. I had some butternut once and it smelled like vinegar, but not in a bad way. Some of the oaks smell like that as well. Can't turn walnut any more as it bothers me, and the Persian (what most call English walnut) doesn't smell quite as strong. Cedar and redwood are nice, but it is another wood that you will eventually react to, and for me, it is too soft. My favorite wood to turn is Pacific Madrone, which pretty much has no scent to it. The little sugar ants seem to love it and I have a sticky crust on me when I am done turning for the day. Been a while since I turned Osage, but the smell of it reminded me of car tires. Mountain Mahogany is a nice wood, and I can't really describe the smell, but it would be great for smoking on the bbque. I did have one piece of camphor and it vanished in my shop some where.... I had some catalpa once, and it has kind of a sweet smell to it, but not one that I liked at all. Mimosa/silk tree has a strange scent, but I react to it as well, so no more.

    robo hippy
     
  10. Darrell Stokes

    Darrell Stokes

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    I love the smell of cherry too. Box elder is reminiscent of manure. I turned a piece of the trunk of a gnarly old bush that had red berries—not sure what it was—and it still has the most distinct strong smell I’ve known in wood. I haven’t been able to describe it. Like mown grass and ripe tropical fruit or something like that.
     
    Charles Cadenhead likes this.
  11. Russell Nugent

    Russell Nugent

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    That's funny I don't get any bad smell from the box elder I've turned. Im turning some spruce burl right now and that sure makes my little shop smell nice. Elm and ash just smell like wet wood. Never turned cherry it really doesn't grow here. Crabapple from my yard smelled pleasant.
     
  12. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    Interesting how over time you can identify a number of different species by how they smell but, sometimes I think they can pick up an odor from where they grew. Turned some poplar once that was beautiful but stunk like old musty swamp water and so strong I could barely stand to keep it in the shop. No way my wife would let it in the house and I had to strip down at the door before I could come inside. It took a few months after turning before the smell finally faded and I could sell the stuff I made. I've gotten oak, an easy smell to recognize, that actually did come from a swampy area and it too stunk up my shop.
     
  13. Charles Cadenhead

    Charles Cadenhead

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    I think the worse smelling wood I've turned was cedar elm while western red cedar, walnut and cherry smell the best.
     
  14. Charles Cadenhead

    Charles Cadenhead

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    Could have been a holly, like yaupon holly, it can smell.
     
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  15. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Camphor is an aromatic wood I enjoy turning - not appreciated by everyone.
    Bottle brush, Cherry, white oat, rosewood, while more subtle than camphor are pleasant smelling local woods.
     
  16. Gary Beasley

    Gary Beasley

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    I would wager turning deer antler will run a skunk out of the room. Ive made a few pens from it.
     
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  17. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    I think sassafras and catalpa are nice. Every time I turn birch I'm transported back to junior high school. That's about all we ever worked in class.
     
  18. Kevin Weir

    Kevin Weir

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    I recently turned some large, wet ornamental cherry. It actually did smell like maraschino cherries! Another memorable turning was a small piece of cypress that came from the large wooden vats of a pickling company. My shop smelled like a jar of dill pickles! A178CFF7-44AE-4C7B-BF76-820D7670D9B7.jpeg
     
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  19. Hugh

    Hugh

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    Try turning a piece of fresh cut Olive wood. Beautiful smell.
    California Bay has a good smell.
    I enjoy Black Oak, Black Walnut, Madrone......all smell great.
    Leave some shavings on the floor at night and when you walk in the shop in the morning........wonderful.
     
  20. Rick Miller

    Rick Miller

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    I don't remember my Uncle Charlie, he passed when I was very young. He was a carpenter, and we went to help my Aunt clear some of his stuff out after his death. I associate the smell of black walnut with the memory of his house even though I was no older then 3 or 4. I'm 70 now & the odor hits me like a ton of bricks.
     
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  21. JeffSmith

    JeffSmith

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    Got a little plum from a very old tree that a neighbor took down. Beautiful purple streaking and the shop smelled like sweet plums for a week.
     
  22. Jason Goodrich

    Jason Goodrich

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    I also really like dried white oak. I built a couple cider presses with it and like it a lot. I work at Nike and one of the new buildings on campus has a lot of white oak paneling and tables. I could smell it the first time I walked in that building. I just got a fresh white oak log and look forward to seeing if it smells the same wet as it does dry.
     
  23. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    Olive smells great, makes you want to drink a Martini, shaken, not stir. Koa also smells good, and I also see money when I turn it.
     
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  24. Ross Scott

    Ross Scott

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    My favourite wood smell is macrocarpa I don't know why but I have always liked the smell of it even when I was a kid
     
  25. Stan Semeniuk

    Stan Semeniuk

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    I'm a big fan of dry white oak, turned a lot of wet elm and to me it smells like pee.
     
  26. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    Cherry is the best but I also like the smell of Juniper (link to another current thread and look up aromatic cedar in Hoadley's or google it).
     
  27. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    My smeller must be defective because I never seamed to notice a distinctive smell from white oak however you could plug both nostrils and still smell elm.
     
  28. Tom Gall

    Tom Gall

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    Not a domestic, but Zebrawood (Zebrano) .......smells like you're at the zoo!
     
  29. Charles Cadenhead

    Charles Cadenhead

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    Pecan has a nice smell. Similar to walnut.
     
  30. Richard Hash

    Richard Hash

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    I love the smell of white oak, but I've turned wet spalted hackberry that smelled like a barn (like horse urine). It took a few days to air that out...
     

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