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Woods used for Turnings Most of the woods I use are harvested in northern California. Trees are never cut just to provide wood for turnings. Most of the wood is obtained from trees that are either felled during a land clearing process, removed due to disease, or from stumps of trees that were logged as long as 30 years ago.
Click image for larger view Stump Burls The wood with the most color and figure is referred to as a Burl. There are 2 types of burls, stump burls (photo at left is of a maple stump burl, it has been cleaned and the bark removed by high pressure washing), and cluster burls. Stump burls are extremely large, some weighing as much as 30,000 pounds and are normally below ground level. Large stump burls are normally sold for veneering to companies overseas and are used in making furniture, musical instruments, and in luxury car interiors.
Click image for larger view Cluster Burls Cluster burls are the large round growths that are seen on a tree above the ground and are much smaller than stump burls. The photo on the left is of a pallet load of maple cluster burls purchased on a wood trip. Cluster burls as well as stump burls that are too small for veneering are sold to woodturners. Stump burls are the predominate burl used by woodturners.
Click image for larger view Redwood Burl Turning Blocks Redwood burls trimmed by chainsaw into turning blocks. Blocks will be sealed and stored until dry. Some blocks will be rough turned while still green to reduce drying time. Rough turning really means turning the block into basically the final shape but leaving the walls 1"-2" thick. Once dry, the pieces will be remounted on the lathe for final turning and sanding. The other remaining blocks, will take considerably longer to dry and will eventually be trimmed on the bandsaw in preparation for final turning.
Click image for larger view The photo on the left shows a winged platter, top and side view, that was created from a burl cap. A burl cap is not another type of burl but rather the top part (cap) of a stump burl or a large cluster burl cut away from the side of the tree. These are very popular with wood turners because of the heavy birds-eye figure throughout the burl.
Click image for larger view The photo on the left shows a pin oak log cutoff split in half and ready to be sealed. These 2 pieces will result in natural edge bowls retaining the bark around the rim of the bowl. It will take another 6-8 months of drying before the bowls can be turned.
Click image for larger view This is the same pin oak log cutoff as shown above, however; the pieces have been moved to show the great figure/color of the wood. Designing the bowl really begins with the chainsaw. Leaving the knot in the log cutoff resulted in wonderful color and figure to the wood which should result in 2 stunning bowls.
Some of the woods I use for my turnings

Redwood Burl, Maple Burl, Walnut Burl, Oak Burl, Black Acacia, Red Alder, Magnolia, Cedar, Mulberry, Black Walnut, English Walnut, Sycamore, Chinese Pagoda, Myrtlewood, Live Oak, Italian Cypress, Lombardi Poplar, Iron Bark Eucalyptus, Siberian Elm, Juniper, Bald Cypress, Chinese Pistachio, Red Mallee Burl, Valley Oak, Silver Dollar Eucalyptus, Chinese Pagoda
Finishing Process

Every turning is finished with 5 coats of Deft Gloss lacquer followed by 2 coats of Deft Semi-gloss lacquer sanding between various coats of finish. The lacquer is applied with an HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) spray system. This spray system has a more efficient transfer of finish than a standard spray system. The 7 coats with an HVLP spray system is comparable to 10 coats using a standard spray system.
Handling/Care of turnings

Natural edge turnings with bark edges.   All turnings should be handled with care, however, natural edge turnings with bark on the edge should never be handled by the bark edge. The bark edge could be broken off if picked up by the bark. Bark edge turnings are more decorator than functional by design but with proper care and handling, the bark should remain intact.

Finish maintenance. Light dusting is all that is required to maintain the fine furniture like finish. If you determine that your piece has become dull and requires polishing, use a furniture wax to revive the shine. Do not use polishes that contain silicone which although they provide a quick and easy shine, overtime will leave a haze buildup that is difficult to remove.
Salad Bowls.

Salad bowls are also finished with 5 coats of Deft Gloss lacquer followed by 2 coats of Deft Semi-Gloss Lacquer. Once the lacquer has cured, which takes approximately 90 days, the finish is food safe. The finish is prone to scratches if metal salad utensils are used.
Cleaning:  Never use hot water nor submerse in soapy water. To clean, use a clean sponge dipped in a light solution of soap and water then rinse with a clean wet sponge. Once rinsed, immediately dry with a clean soft towel. It is extremely important that the bowl is dried thoroughly as moisture left on the finish could cause the finish to become milky in color. If the finish begins to show a slight milky appearance, immediately apply a thin coating of mineral oil. If properly dried after each use, there should be no need to apply mineral oil to the finish as the wood has been sealed with 7 coats of lacquer as explained above.
Sun/heat exposure.

Turnings are susceptible to warping and cracking if exposed to direct sunlight. Wood is not 100% dry and will move slightly due to moisture in the air (as an example doors become hard to open due to swelling of the wood when wet). Extreme heat would make the wood move excessively which could result in either a warped or cracked bowl.
Damaged Turnings

If a turning is accidentally damaged there may be a chance that it can be repaired. If the damaged turning is a bark edged turning and the bark has come/broken off, save every piece you can find no matter how small as it may be possible to glue the pieces back together (see photo at left of an edge damaged bowl). For other types of damage contact me as indicated below to determine if the turning is repairable.

If you would like me to repair the turning or have any questions about turning maintenance please call me at (707) 762-5292 or email me at ralphjramirez@comcast.net. There will be a modest charge for repairs.

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