A beautiful, healthy Live Oak stands virtually alone in a field. Live Oaks live for centuries. A tree's life will span several human generations. Also half the tree is rooted in the underworld. There is a mythological wholeness that humbles me and draws my imagination.
Opening a walnut crotch to see the burl.
Recycling Centers are becoming more common. It is profitable to grind trees up into chips. The chips are sold as mulch primarily. This facility rents bins to suppliment income. They charge a minimum $20 to dump brush and clean lumber.
Some Logs are just too large for the hopper and are left aside until a crew can cut them up. These big logs are my target for making big bowls.
This represents a good haul. Materials for about 15 large bowls plus several smaller bowls.
My driveway is the butcher block; a chainsaw is my cleaver.
Once home, the problem is to filet the log and dress it for the lathe. I use a relatively small chainsaw and keep it very sharp. A larger saw will speed production. A very large bandsaw is ideal except for the initial cost which is still prohibitive.
I'll cut a slab about 7 or 8 inches thick from this piece of Ash, then draw a circle on the face and cut an octagon before mounting a faceplate on the log and fitting it on the lathe.
Transformation on the Lathe
First I cut the outside (bottom) of the bowl. The crowbar is jamming the speed control lever to its slowest setting. Without it, vibrations from cutting tend to speed up the machine dangerously.
My new Lathe makes a huge difference.
Finishing is tree whispering: the wood tells the story of the tree's life.
Here is what a series of bowls looks like. There are coring systems available that make it possible to cut more bowls from a blank with less wear and tear. The only trouble is, the systems cut radius only since they are hinged from a single point on the tool. I like that my bowls are not so uniform.