Around the Woods

Thoughts on what to do with a piece of wood
slightly out of the ordinary

"What Do I Do with this Piece of Wood?"

This is a good question as raised by Ruth Niles, an excellent turner in her own right. Many pieces of wood are straight grained sections of log that are destined to be boxes, bowls, platters, spindle material or whatever else the turner decides. They are fairly predictable as to their look and action. But what of crotches, twists, burls and the like? What to do with the wood that even fire wood cutters want to heave? It has some of the best grain and color as well as the greater challenges. My decisions are my own and do not necessarily reflect what another turner would do with the same piece of wood. To make the page a bit easier to navigate as well as faster, clicking on an image opens a new window for the image. Your mouse will let you switch back and forth between windows or just close the image window. A new one will open for the next image you click on.

This is a crotch from a yellow birch. It came from my uncle's wood pile last year. The boys cut about 1400 cord a year and now and then throw aside a piece or two for me. I suspect that there is a fair amount of spalting in the wood as any birch left in our climate for longer than three months will show some spalting.
Here on the ends you can see some splitting. It does not look too deep but I suspect will go a good inch or two into the log.
The other end indicates deeper splits, perhaps three to four inches. This is not unusual for wood that has not had the ends treated. By the time I got the wood it had already been outside for six months or so and was not worth treating by then.
Looking at the log from this angle, the log is 14" long, the left end is 9" across and 6" high, the right ends are each 6" in a rough diameter and the offset is about 3 ".
The presence of the crotch means that there is a feathering type of grain in the wood if it is cut through the three centers, not split down the crotch. This may be seen in this 9" platter of crotch maple.
As you notice, the crotch line runs most of the length of this piece.
In order to keep the grain I have the choice of turning the piece length wise as a vase,
turning a hollow form from the crotch area, perhaps extending it so that there is an opening in the side where the two branches split,
or cutting down the centers and having opportunity for two bowls, platters or wall hangings. For that matter, I could also make a shallow hollow form. At worst, I will make fire wood. Actually, whatever happens I will have something to turn. The question as always will be, is it the best use of this wood? Maybe. A decision this important calls for coffee.
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