Whew! That was so fun!
This week I had the awesome privilege of turning a beautiful blank of Australian Yellow Box Wood from Exotic Wood Zone. It went so well!
You may recall that I recently turned some awesome Australian Red Mallee Burl, but it gave me fits when I got to the inside. My tool was jouncing all over the place and I had a tough time staying on the bevel. I know it was likely my inexperience, but I was a little nervous trying another exotic piece from Australia.
I shouldn’t have worried! It was glorious, start to finish! Honestly, I was smiling my whole way through.
As I turned it around, my eyes were growing wider watching the beautiful patterns of the wood emerge. You could tell right away that it would be a show stopper.
I hope you don’t shrug at my enthusiasm; it’s true that I have limited experience with turning burl and so I get super excited over its beauty each and every time.
Somehow I thought that the grain going in so many directions would mean difficult turning, but this went quite smoothly and without a hitch. I made sure to keep my bowl gouge sharp and smiled the whole time I shaped the outside—and even (shock!) as I sanded through the grits. I just couldn’t believe how pretty it is!
I had a small fissure to mend and the glue brought out the incredible sheen of the wood. Wow! I was excited about what lay ahead. It seemed a shame to sand away the glue’s gloss, but I was ready to flip it and get to the inside. Even though I’d struggled a bit with the last blank’s interior, I was encouraged by the ease so far on this yellow boxwood. Eagerly, I flipped it around and set up the jam chuck.
Taking out the bowl’s center mass went pretty quickly, though I spent extra time making passes to mirror the exterior’s sloping curve. I do have calipers, but generally, trust what my fingers detect as I test the bowl’s thickness. I was determined on this one to get consistency all the way to the base.
It took a few passes and I tried to be bold, rather than stopping shy of what I want (as I usually do and regret later). I had left a generous shoulder on the tenon, so I knew I’d have room to spare. There was no way I wanted to waste this piece of gorgeous timber! No bracelets allowed today.
Finally, I had it just right and carried it into my house for the night. Northern California’s heat is something awful this time of year and there was no way I was risking it being damaged somehow.
This morning, I canceled our kayaking trip, because I just couldn’t wait to get back down to my shop to take off the tenon and complete the bowl. I knew it was something special!
I decided that, in order to create the illusion of a continuous curve through the base, I would attempt to create a base that dipped fairly deeply inside. I’d just received a new tool, designed for creating captive rings on goblets, and a light bulb went off in my mind. WHAT IF!!
Sure enough, when I placed it flat on the tool rest then touched the curved tip of the Hamlet tool to the inner wall of my tenon, a beautiful dip was created. I was thrilled! All that was left was a bit of tapping with my mallet and chisel to remove the tenon’s nub, then a bit more sanding.
As always, woodburning my signature into the base and following it with the glossy sheen of Mahoney’s Walnut Oil was my favorite part. Oh, my word the bowl is stunning!
I sat it atop a post on my farm and the sun’s glow brought out the lush color of the exotic burl’s crazy grain. I literally danced! (Seriously… ask my dogs. They see this often. Ha)
It’s a bowl worth celebrating! Thanks, Exotic Wood Zone for giving me a chance to create something so beautiful and enduring! I absolutely love legacy pieces like this.
I daydream about how, with luck, they’ll stay in my family for generations! Someday, somewhere, someone will wonder about the person who made it and how on earth I connected with something so beautiful from the other side of the world.
Let’s hope they can read this blog!