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The Natural Edge bowl dilemma

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Dean Center, Jul 21, 2020.

  1. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    I was recently rough turning a birch natural edge bowl, with white bark and some spalting, and was struck hard by something that is an inevitable issue with the outside of NE bowls.

    In order to get a clean edge on the bark, you sometimes or often need to cut the upper part of the outside from the open side of the bowl. Since this is cutting into the end grain, tear out is worse than cutting up from the bottom.

    Since this blank was a little punky, tear out was especially bad, so cutting up from the bottom was really important in getting a good surface. This worked fine up to the beginning of the natural edge, where the bark lifted a little, and the edge of the bark came out feathered, rather than cleanly cut.

    So to those of you who do a good number of natural edge, bark on bowls--what tips or tricks do you have to manage these conflicting aspects of the project?

    Thanks for the feedback.
     
  2. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Punky wood is always a challenge. Often spritzing with water will stiffen the fibers.
    A thin shellac will stiffen them more.

    I find that using a pull cut on the outside of a NE bowl will almost always cut the bark cleanly.

    I get the outside pretty close to finished turning wise between centers.
    39E9F8B0-DBDA-4616-BB46-239CFF37F563.png
    Mount in the chuck do some hollowing to relieve the stress leaving the
    Then do a final pull cut on the outside
    9FAE2C19-C336-4397-AA47-65F14EB4F8F3.png

    the bottom of the Photos above show where to fast forward to.
    NaturalEdgeCrotchBowlMay2014 -

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jVoI12Kfug

    This demo is with a slightly punky piece you can see a tiny bit of tearout on the bark.
    Easily sanded

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6XccQl_0BY

     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2020
    Emiliano Achaval likes this.
  3. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    You have to be talking about end grain bowls however I have turned a couple thousand of the these translucent end grain goblets and never had to come in from the top. The inside is always done from the center out using a detail gouge back cutting and or a ring tool but the final cut on the finished bark edge is best done with the leading point on a 40/40 bowl gouge. The wispy pieces of outer bark left after the final cut can be trimmed off by hand using a razor sharp knife. Birch will rot (many like the word spault instead) very quickly as in a couple of months in the summer and becomes punky in that time plus the bark will probably loosen and fall off. The best time to cut birch is in the fall or winter then leave it out in a snow bank or if you don't have snow banks a freezer will do until you are ready to turn it.
    IMG_1161.JPG
     
  4. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    A lot of turners don't consider shear scraping the inside of bowls, but an Irish grind gouge laid way over and the handle dropped way down, clean up a natural edge bowl really nicely. Of course you need a really light cut and a lot of patience easing into the cut.
     
  5. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

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    My natural edge bowls are almost alway really open bowls. Because of that I can use a spindle gouge with a much more acute edge of 35 degrees rather than my bowl gouge which is either 40 or 55. I also use smaller radius edge. My 3/8" detail gouge ground at 35 degrees is perfect for this. does take considerable care when starting the cut.
     
  6. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    Thanks everyone.
    John, are you cutting from bottom of bowl to the top, then? (outside of bowl)
     
  7. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

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    I cut from the lip down just past the bark. Normally I would be cutting a side grain bowl from the foot to the rim to get the cleanest cut. If I suspect the bark may not be as solid as I would like I use my detail gouge to cut from the rim toward the foot so I'm always pushing the bark into the solid wood. With a bowl gouge this may not leave a very clean cut which is why I go with the most acute cutting edge that I can ride the bevel. On closed forms where I would normally go from the bark edge toward the middle when cutting the inside, sometimes they are sloped to far inward to get a bevel rubbing too in so I use a Hunter #4 Carbide cutter with the cutter facing the wood and shear scraper with it. Leaves a pretty good finish and puts very little pressure on the bark so it won't rip it off.
     
  8. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    Thanks John, that's very clear and complete. Much appreciated.
     
  9. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    I have had good luck with a parting tool . I do a plunge cut moderately deep , in steps if needed. Then do the inside cuts. Be sure to open this plunge cut with side by side cuts or there will be a catch.
     
  10. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    I've got a couple now on my drying rack with same issue. Last inch of the cut toward the tall wings of the bowl can be a challenge for tear out if the wood is punky there. I've tried giving it good dose of clear elmers glue and then do a final very light cut with my small gouge with a very fresh edge. Tough for me to do on a natural edge. The clear elmers, the stuff kids take to school, helps but also creates issues for your finish. . I usually end up spending a fair amount of time with my NR scraper with very light passes over and over the top inch or so down then blend into the rest of the shape. I've tried cutting the outside from the rim down to get past the punky area but never had much luck with it. I also read here, forget which post, about holding the bowl upside down and putting CA glue along the bark line. Won't run down onto the outside surface and mess up the finish options and can help hold it on and reduce the frayed edges. I've done it a few times but not enough to say it's a fix.
     
  11. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    Repeat Repeat My not so humble opinion is punky wood is no good for bark edge due to the fact that bark tends to come off of rotten wood. The best way is to cut live trees when they are dormant meaning the sap isn't running and the bark is naturally tight.
     
    Gerald Lawrence and hockenbery like this.
  12. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Agree the best wood for NE bowls in freshly cut and good condition.

    sometimes it is worth working a punky piece.
    Did a commission NE hollow form from a piece of the Wye Oak. The state had left it in a field for 18 months before giving it to artists. Sap wood was crumbly. Poly All 2000 made it solid.

    dormant tree rules fade away as you move south. Here the trees are never truly dormant and there is no noticeable sap run.
     
    Donovan Bailey likes this.
  13. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    I agree on when they "should" be cut down but seldom if ever do I get to decide when trees I use get cut down or how long they've been left on the ground before someone decides to call me. The weather brings them down or the owner decides and hopefully calls me right away and I can get what I want before they either get cut up and ripped apart by the tree trimmers or they've been on the ground for a year. Often you don't know how the punky areas will turn until you give it a try, and it can vary by spot on the log. I've gotten part way through and pitched it on the burn pile and some really surprised me with how well they turned out. Yes, the bark often comes off but a little torching on the edges and they can still look great, sometimes. Usually worth a try at least.
     
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  14. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    Now that you mention it I know have never seen an example of a tropical species being turned with a bark natural edge, but then I live a little north of the tropics.
     
  15. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    We are bit north of the sub tropical.

    the species I have used for natural edge include:
    Non native tropical woods - camphor, red gum eucalyptus, lemon eucalyptus Cuban mahogany, and rosewood.

    Other non natives - citrus, loquat, guava, papaya, lychee ......

    Native hardwoods - sweet gum, black gum, cherry, red maple, American Elm, dogwood, Magnolia, pecan, Holleys, hickory’s, live oak, red oaks, laurel oak, persimmon, southern bayberry, sugar berry, red bay, willows, poplar....

    plus any I overlooked.
     
  16. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    I'm envious. Here in the northern high plains, the native trees range all the way from poplar to cottonwood ;) with some aspen and willow to spice things up. Or up in the mountains pine, fir and spruce.

    Most of our better turning woods were planted as landscaping specimens, with the number of varieties limited by our climate ("35 below keeps out the riff raff"). As Randy points out, we don't get to dictate what, when or how. The birch was likely a standing dead tree from our cemetery, probably dead for a year. The city cut and hauled it when they had an opening in their schedule, and I happened across it at the dump pile probably the day after it was cut. It was much more sound than I expected given the circumstances.

    We have worked and worked and worked to get the city and the local arborists to notify us when trees are going to come down, but they just can't seem to remember us. We only find wood by listening for chainsaws, monitoring the dump pile, or someone hearing from a friend who is taking down a tree.
     
  17. Lars Hansen

    Lars Hansen

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    @Dean. A global challenge! A friend of mine had similar issues with a local authority. No use they have your card if they can't find it months later when wood is available. So how do keep it permanently visible in someone's office?
    He glued his card to the underside of a nice walnut bowl and placed it on the desk of the guy in charge. Since the bowl doesn't belong to a person, no bribery has taken place.
    Nice idea and it payed off.
     
  18. Fred Belknap

    Fred Belknap

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    With NE spalted/rot on the bark, it helps to use thin CA sometimes. I also use a Stewart McDonald scraper close to the bark edge. Sometimes nothing works.
     
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