Thursday, November 30, 2006

A step back in time

Every now and then I stumble across a gem of a website. Today I came across Stuart King's website, and in particular the articles he has written, many of which are about woodturning as it was practiced in days gone by.

Do take a look. There are stories from England of bodgers, bowl turners and twist cleaners. There are tales from eastern Europe of bow lathe turners, drop spindle makers and drinking flask makers.

One point I found particularly interesting was about elm logs:
They stood in a pile for at least two years before being converted into bowl blanks. By this time most of the bark had fallen off and the timber became ‘kind’.
I don't know exactly what they mean by 'kind', but I suspect that it is the point at which the wood has lost its free moisture between the cells, but the bound water is still trapped inside them. This is the point at which I end up turning a lot of my bowls, and in most species I don't have many problems with checking. The wood still cuts easily, but I don't get sprayed with sap as the wood spins on the lathe.

I am surprised however that they did this with elm, a species that I find rots very easily, and that the bark is allowed to fall off, which I find leads to checks starting at the surface.

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Categories: history, bowl turning

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