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Unwrapping Wood

It is lathe season again and I’m a busy elf in the shop making gifts for friends and family.  I do occasionally use my lathe during the rest of the year for furniture projects but even if I didn’t, it pays for itself in the last 3 months of the year.  Each year I dust it off and start it spinning making gifts for all the good boys and girls on my list.

Freshly Bandsawn Walnut Turning BlankAt the same time, I open up the vault and dig in to my turning stock.  I have several cabinets full of spindle and bowl blanks as well as a huge drawer full of pen blanks.  Some of it I bought on ebay, some I picked up at the lumber yard, some I harvested myself from the neighborhood.

This year I’m making a bunch of miniature pepper grinders.  My wife and I found some really gourmet sea salt with which to fill them.  We have quite a few foodies in the family so I’m sure this will be a big hit.  The grinder requires a 3x3x4″ blank which is really not that common for spindle stock.  Most of my spindle blanks are in the 2.5″ range so I had to dig deeper into my stash for big blanks.  This led me to several very large hunks of wood that I cut out of a Walnut tree and a Maple tree one of my neighbors cut down 5 years ago.  He chopped out these pieces with an axe and I waxed and sealed them then set them aside for drying.  Each block was around 6-8″ square and 12-18″ long.  I pulled them out, fired up the band saw and began to trim out some blanks for the pepper mills.  This is just like opening a present as the beautiful air dried grain comes to life and you really see what you will be working with.  The Walnut blank in particular was stunning with lots of dark bands swimming in a sea of chocolate brown.  The maple has a fair amount of curl in it combined with a beautiful heart and sap wood transition that will make an interesting finished piece.

Turning Blanks for Christmas Gifts 2011

Clockwise from upper left: Walnut, Maple, Amboyna, Grenadillo, Marblewood, and Walnut

I got so excited that I started digging a little deeper and came out with a giant hunk of Grenadillo that I bought green on ebay about 4 years ago.  I recently purchased the Easy Wood Tools Easy Hollower (affiliate link) and I think I will attempt to turn this Grenadillo into a hollow vessel for my wife.  Of course look for a video on all of this hopefully in the near future.  I have 8 of these pepper mills to make so I’m sure if I film the last few I should have the process down by then.

So happy lathe season, go unwrap some wood and make something beautiful.

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