• Harold Bowern

The journey through freshly harvested wood

Updated: Jun 24

I have always enjoyed watching woodturners turn various projects from different species of wood, store-bought turning blanks, wood from their woodpile, or freshly harvested wood. I do use store bought turning blanks from my local hardwood and softwood suppliers or by milling and gluing up pieces of lumber to make my own turning blank.

I have not ventured into the area of woodturning from freshly harvested or seasoned wood for a few reasons. First, I did not know where to look for sources of freshly harvested or seasoned wood. Secondly, I did not have any knowledge or experience of which processes were necessary to cut and processing turning blanks from freshly harvested wood. Finally, I had no place to store or the means of monitoring the wood while it dried naturally.

So, to further explore the wood turning journey, I want to try my hand at working with freshly harvested wood from trees and branches and to understand the whole process of harvesting, milling, and storing freshly harvested wood to maximize the wood I would have available to use in my woodturning projects.

I broke down the journey into steps, (possibly not in the correct order nor a complete list of steps required 😎)

  • Make allowances for storage of wood that I obtained

  • Finding out about where to look for sources of freshly harvested wood

  • Identifying and working out the processes and resources require to deal with the wood once I have found it, to take it from freshly harvested wood to final dried and workable wood for my woodturning

As part of the first item on my list I want to address storage of wood turning stock. I have a new workshop, with more floor space than my old workshop. I have built a wall racking system to store my off cuts and lumber from when I was making furniture and cabinetry as well as to hold my store-bought turning blanks. This is the basic storage space angle covered and it does not address what sort of solution is required to store the wood during the drying process. I now needed to get a better understanding of what processes, resources and requirements were needed to start my journey into using freshly harvested wood to address the storage aspect fully.

Some of the sources and resources that I explored to further my knowledge in the subject included

  • search out local woodturners and ask them you how to get started and what and where to look for freshly harvested wood as well as their knowledge in dealing with this type of wood

  • Get to know your local arborist (tree trimming services) for possibly obtaining wood that is from falling trees or limbs from storm damage

  • If a neighbour is cutting down or trimming trees or shrubs, maybe see if you could take the wood rather than them having to deal with the removal

  • On your Sunday drive around your area you may find someone trying to get rid of cut down trees or branches maybe see if you could take the wood rather than them having to deal with the removal

  • Join a professional Woodworking society, like the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) where you can get access to many publications and resources, they have

  • Join a local woodturning club. At our club meetings we have a few members who will bring in chucks of logs and branches which end up in our 50/50 draw. You also can ask the members about the subject. As I have found, this is a good pool of knowledge to tap into when exploring all things woodturning.

Now before we get any further, I am not saying this will be all free wood by any means, but rather reasonably priced wood, when compared to cost of dry wood blanks from your local hardwood and softwood supplier.

As to getting some ideas the processes of what to do to get the freshly harvested wood ready for drying of working with wet wood on the lathe you find excellent information from the AAW, your local woodturners, and the members of your local woodturning club.

Another good place to look at is YouTube. There are lots of good woodturners that produce content for you to learn from on working with various types of woods in dry to freshly harvested.

The caveat to the information and demos on YouTube, “Make sure you understand that you are responsible to ensure the techniques they demonstrate are safe!! YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS AND CONSEQUENCES”

Do not take for granted that what they are showing is the correct or safe way. Use what they are telling and demonstrating as an idea to further clarify by you. Do your homework, seek out woodturners, woodturning clubs, take a class in the subject you are wanting to try, read reputable publications from associations to verify and understand the processes fully. Then make up your own mind if you want to try to replication in whole or part what was shown.

So, this is the journey I am on now. Come along and join me into the world of turning projects from freshly harvested wood. Hopefully, we will learn something together.

See you back in the Workshop!

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