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Work in Progress - Spruce Burl Form

Part 1 - Getting Started Between Centers

This is a roughly 10" x 10" spruce burl, fairly dry, that was given to me in a lot from a person who would like a piece turned for his wife and his son's wife in return for several others in the lot. As you look from this angle it appears to be a branch burl rather than a trunk burl. This is good as a branch burl in spruce usually has a lot more character than a trunk burl. Also, this section should have a lot of color as there is asecondary branch growing off the first. wood turning project: burl blank
The opposite side has a more regular form and may be the reasonable spot to place the base. The branch is well located through the center of the burl and allows for easy symmetrical design, either placing the branch as the axis or as a parallel to the ground. woodturning project: burl blank
Looking at the end of the branch it is obvious the piece is stable. The branch is not cracked while the piece is very dry. Likely the piece could be turned with the branch as the axis without cracks developing. However, I decide to use the eye of rings from the branch ends as decorative features and turn a piece with the branch parallel to the ground. woodworking lathe subject: spruce burl
To orient the burl I eyeballed it roughly inplace between centers and began to turn it for major adjustments in the orientation of the piece. Larger out of balance placements can be easily fixed at this point. wodturning basics: design
Since I have decided to turn away the branch ends I first removed them with a couple of saw cuts to prepare for the lathe. Then it is a matter of bringing up the tool rest and orienting a spot on the rest with the center ring of one of the branches. The whole piece is rotated until the other end is in front of the rest. Then the piece is moved back and forth by moving the point of insertion of the tail center until the two center rings are in line with the same spot on the tool rest. wodturning basics: design
The tail center is tightened up to prepare for turning. At this point I notice that the base area is fairly soft and the spur center is already deepening in. This will need to be addressed later and is something to keep in mind. woodworking lathe technique: preparation
At the tail center where the turning will begin there is another soft area which will call for some fairly delicate cuts to prevent the tail center from moving until it is deeply seated. That little branch will come off like a missile during the first cuts and is another great reason to wear a face mask and a left glove. On burls like this it is also not uncommon to have large pieces of bark fly at you during the turning. woodworking lathe technique: spalted wood
As the roughing begins the spur center fancies itself a drill and quickly works its way into the burl. This means that the tail center must be periodically tightened as you go along. Eventually the spur center bottoms out as the nut on the head stock presses against the wood and the spur center is now a friction drive. woodworking lathe basics: spur center

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