Monthly Archives: June 2013

diamonds in the rough

This spring I was fortunate to come across a few good city trees waiting to be salvaged from dump sites.  The largest was this maple, pictured below.

The lumpy exterior suggested the possibility of a surprising interior, and I wasn’t disappointed.

One end of the section was a large crotch with honey colored heartwood and strong figure.  The length of the trunk was peppered with clusters of birds-eyes that show up on flat-sawn sections, while quarter-sawing stretches the figure into iridescent ribbons.  This was the largest chunk of a tree that I have salvaged to date, and since I was working alone it was necessary to section the wood into manageable pieces.  Fortunately, I can manage a large piece.  But getting them out of the truck is always easier than getting them into it.

I had been wanting to mill up some of the green wood that I’ve been collecting into slabs and planks, so this seemed like a good chance to give it a try.  Since a learning opportunity is also a teaching opportunity, I enlisted two of my students to help with the project.  It was an experiment to see how well short stock could be milled on a large capacity band saw rather than on a portable mill.  We were successful cutting book-matched slabs out of several sections of the maple, and the wood is now air drying.  It should be ready for use by the end of next summer.  Many thanks to Michael O. and Zach S. for lending a hand.

Some of the smaller sections were suitable for bowl blanks, and one of the resulting bowls is pictured below.  It is about 10.5″ in diameter, and the curvature of the bowl captures the transition of the figure as the orientation of the grain shifts.  As usual, the wood distorted slightly as it dried.  The slight distortion gave the bowl a graceful energy and played up the textural illusion caused by the curly figure.