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Turning Black Cherry

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Randy Anderson, Jun 30, 2020.

  1. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    My neighbor decided to clear some trees behind his house. Most were elm and sweet gum but I found a 10"-12" black cherry pushed over in the pile. I've never turned green black cherry. I turned out a quick live edge with a splintered off slab this morning that I had to turn way down to get the bottom clean enough to use. Any tips or advice on this stuff appreciated. It's very wet and the sap smell will mean my wife won't let me in the house when I work it. For now I'll just seal the log ends and store for a bit.
     

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  2. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    Clean up you lathe and tools after turning wet cherry. The acids and moisture will pit steel overnight. Consistent wall thickness is critical to reduce cracking. Dry it slowly! Get the logs out of direct sunlight and reduce air flow around them. Process as soon as possible this time of year. The logs can go from turning wood to rib smoking wood in a couple of weeks.
     
  3. Gary Beasley

    Gary Beasley

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    My experience with cherry is it is prone to cracks. Turning it that thin helps a lot. My attempts at end grain turnings were pretty dismal. I did get a good number of side grain bowls roughed and dried successfully in paper bags.
     
  4. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    Thanks. Going out now to seal the logs and then will cut into slabs later this week. Good to know thin helps. I'm prone to leave the bottoms thicker than I should. I use paper bags for drying live edge so good to hear it does work. Cleaned up my rails and tools right after. I've forgotten on wet oak before and it wreaks havoc on them as well.
     
  5. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Looks good! Turn the rest of it soon if you want to have the white sap wood.
    Go a little thinner on the next one... shoot for 3/16” wall thickness if even 1/8”

    Things I do
    If I want to keep the bark I run thin CA around the edge where the bark meets the wood holding the bowl so that the bark is down to avoid getting CA on the wood. Holds the bark on and keeps the bark a tiny bit proud of the dried bowl.
    I turn the tenon off before I dry it. I usually do round bottoms ( footless) on NE bowls
    I rinse the bowl off in the sink.
    Larger bowls I would put in a box or bag with top closed for a day, top open for a day, on the shelf for a day
    Then sand and finish any time afterward.

    A bowl that size with even walls and a nice curve will rarely crack unless you dry it way too quickly like put it in front of a fan. The tenon left on might cause it to crack but that part of the bowl doesn’t move much so should be ok. I find it better to take the tenon off while it’s green.
    If you turn a foot sand the edge of the foot while it is green - can’t sand it when dry without ruining the curve of the foot.

    pretty good job on the turning I see just a tiny bit of bruised grain on minor tearout on the Bach side if the endgrain.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
  6. Dave Bunge

    Dave Bunge

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    Black cherry is one of my favorite turning woods, fortunately there's a lot of it available where I live. The logs do tend to crack quickly around the pith, sometimes making you remove a lot of wood on the bottom of NE bowls as you saw. If you're planning to make twice turned bowls, watch out for the sapwood cracking. I often put anchor seal on any sapwood on the outside of the rough turned bowl before drying.

    Cherry is one that behaves much better if cut when it's dormant or at the end of the growing season vs spring or early summer. But don't let that discourage you from working with what you have.

    In the past I've had some cherry bowls develop small black dots on the surface. Advice from the forums was that this was probably caused by steel particles (grinder dust). So now if I plan to turn NE cherry bowls, I'll vacuum around my grinder station first to remove the built up dust before starting and wipe down my gouge after sharpening before going back to the lathe. Seems to have helped. Also, acid can remove or lighten the dots. Lemon juice (citric acid, example ReaLemon) is what many people use for this. Works better if you apply it..dab in on the dots... as soon as they appear vs waiting until the bowl is completely dry.

    A good coat of paste wax on the lathe bed helps a lot to reduce rust from the shavings.
     
  7. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    Not much experience with cherry, but.... The sap wood turns orange as soon as it is exposed to air. When you sand it out, it is a lot of work to sand it down to white, but it can be done. I generally sand out any tool marks and tear out, and don't worry about sanding out all of the orange. Some times it can be kind of splotchy, but that does go away with time.

    Turn thin: to me this means wall thickness of 5/16 or slightly less. Any thicker than that, and your risk of cracking goes up.

    Cherry is not a good wood for smoking with your bar-b-q. Some people can react to it.

    As for the black iron spots, any wood will do that when green, though you don't see it on the heart wood of black walnut. Hard to avoid if you are sharpening. I wipe down the tool with wet shavings after sharpening, and my hands as well. That metal dust will float around the shop for days, so it can drift. I also wipe down my hands with the wet shavings before going back to the wood.

    I prefer warped bowls, so you can turn that cherry down to 1/4 inch thick, round over the rims for standard bowls, then when finish turned, put a couple of wraps of the stretch film around the rim, with about 1 inch lapping over the rim, and the rest on the outside. This is a really good way to protect the rim, which is the most vulnerable part for cracking. I do try to make the bottom the same thickness as the walls. Leaving it a bit thicker will cause uneven drying stress. Most bowls done this way are dry in a week. Dry enough to sand out in 2 to 3 days.

    robo hippy
     
  8. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    I debated about putting it my LDD bucket and didn't. My water has a deep reddish tone and didn't want to risk the sap wood coloring. Straight to the paper bag. If you say it's hard to sand AND gets an orange layer on it like my maple did then I probably should go ahead and soak it.
     
  9. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    your bowl looked to have a smooth surface. Should be easy to sand

    When I get a good quality tool finish a bowl that size will take less 10 minutes to sand.
    I use 3” Velcro 220 and 320 on an angle drill keeping the edge of the disk in line with the grain.
    I sit with the bowl in one hand resting on my lap the drill in the other.
    Usually just level the bark with the 320. Once in while there might be some bruised grain or minor tearout that needs some 180 before the 220. Lastly a light hand sanding with 320 with the grain.

    the more attention you pay to the tool finish the less sanding.
    Also bowls the size you are doing are great to do. Popular items for sale. Quick to turn and sand.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
  10. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    I learned a while back that if you can see a tool mark while turning, putting it up to dry with the plan of sanding it out is a big mistake. Will seem like the grand canyon then. NR scrapers till there are no more and the shape is smooth, contours right, etc. I sand while mounted with a small angle drill/sander but don't do a lot of sanding while it's spinning, especially on live edge. Yep, 9-11 inch are my favorite size to work. Easy, worth the effort for price I can charge (mostly) and easy for folks to buy knowing it will fit somewhere in their house. Also good size to give to friends and neighbors. I do 15" plus size and some really deep but hard to sell except to the specific person. Eye candy for setting up the booth but I usually bring the really big ones home with me.
     
  11. Paul Grenier

    Paul Grenier

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    I've successfully dried cherry of that size in the micro wave after turning almost to finished thickness using a process that a friend told me about; wet the outside, fill with water, cook on high for 5 minutes. Repeat with wetting the entire bowl and refilling, if needed, with water, cook for 4 minutes. Repeat process for 4, 3, 2 and 1 minute. Normally dry in about 2 - 3 weeks after this process. Hint; don't use the wife's microwave LOL
     
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  12. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    I rarely get cracks in my cherry. Just luck I guess. Usually do twice turn but on turn to finish rarely a problem. For usual I turn to about an inch to 3/4 and put in bag with shavings. Take out the shavings in about a week . I open the bag daily to let out as much moisture as possible. As to sapwood It is part of the character and is a hit and miss but never made a special effort there.
     
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  13. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    Holy corrosion Batman. This stuff really does a number on your bed rails and steel if you don't watch it. I've dealt with wet oak before but this is more aggressive. Also shows you which of your tools have better steel. My home made NR scraper with steel I bought on Amazon turns black quick. Anyway, it's gonna be nice. First crotch piece finished this morning. More to go.
     

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  14. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    Cherry is not one of the bad one. Wait till you try Live Oak or Chestnut Oak.
     
  15. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    Thanks for the tips. I've kept them thin and been careful to keep bottoms thin as well. First three are done and finished. Many more coming along. Drying time for natural edge going faster than I expected. A few cracks in my tenons but nothing that CA didn't stop and keep from spreading. A few traditional that will take some time to dry but so far no cracks.
     

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    Tom Gall, hockenbery and Dave Bunge like this.

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