Turning a Bowl, Thought, Process and Life Lessons

Most posts on this Blog relate to Energy Efficiency and Homes.  One post pointed out how I depresssurized after a Home Energy Audit by running a Blower Door Test.  Another way for me to relax is to go out to the shop and work on a bowl or other turned item.  I enjoy turning wood. I remember doing some woodworking with my father growing up.  I enjoy the fresh smell of cut wood and the look is always unique.  I recently re-organized my shop and have been able to easily work in shorter, and more productive, sessions.

Last night I was working on a bowl.  Above Right on the right. This was was from maple that had spalted. During an Energy Audit, I look for the potential for mold to grow and make recommendations to eliminate that process. Spalting wood is a process where I want the mold and fungus to grow.  You get some really interesting patterns in the wood.

Left is Maple, right is spalted maple. Finding a piece of wood that has begun the spalting process is always neat.  The piece is usually wet or very damp. It is not in the bright sun. It looks stained or crumbly on the outside. The bark may be gone or partly gone. The best spalted wood, for turning, is still fairly solid on the inside.  This is very much like finding mold or a fungus in a home.  You just combine water, and a food source, usually wood.  The mold or fungus spores are always around.  So it starts growing. Remove the water or the food and it stops.  In a home we call that remediation.  I don’t know if wood turners have a name for it.

Each piece of wood is unique and each seems to have a mind of its own.  Last night I had removed the tenon that held the bowl on the lathe. I had started sanding the bottom. This bowl suddenly started to show its own mind.  Right. The center of the bottom, was not getting smoother, so I moved to a rougher grade of sandpaper.  Not much change, I moved down another grade.  Not getting any better. Geez, this is just a little spot, less than a inch in diameter. A little frustrating.

A look over to the side shows me this piece of a bowl. This one went flying when the hidden crack went ‘Crack’.  It went away from me.  See the second picture.  Yes, wood has a mind of its own.  Remembering the other bowl, tells me it is time to stop.

Tonight, I will work on it again.  Bowls, among other things, don’t like to be hurried.  I started this one in 2006 or 2007. It spent several years drying. Another 24 hours will not make much difference.  The wood has taught me that patience is rewarded. I have learned that lesson, and last night it was retaught again.  Not only with bowls, but homes, families and all over society, one must learn, and practice, that lesson.  If not, it will be retaught.

Addendum:  The next day.  Last night, I put the bowl back on the work space and worked some more on that troublesome spot.  It worked out and patience paid off.  When the final finish is applied and cured, I will post a picture.

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