I spent Friday collecting a large beech tree. This is an exciting time, I am very careful selecting wood that I hope will turn well, the right wood is a joy to use and makes great bowls. You never know from the outside of a tree how it will be to work. I am often asked which wood is may favourite, they are all individuals and I could not choose a species of tree as a favourite any more than I could say I like French people more than Italians. One beech can be heavenly and the next a real challenge, if it’s gnarly I am in for many weeks hard work.
I cut it up with the chainsaw, my woodpile is in a nice spot.
For 20 years I have cut my bowl blanks with a chainsaw where most turners use a bandsaw, I did this partly because I was a forester so I used the tool I had and knew and partly because I am pathologically tight and did not have the money for the bandsaw. I was recently offered a gorgeous old Felder at a silly price and Saturday I cut the first blanks on it, much faster with less waste, I can see why everyone else uses them.
This is the view form the doorway of my upstairs workshop, not bad.
I turned a few bowls just to get a feel for the wood, it is a tough but has promise.
Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I turned more getting better each day and changing the bevel angles on my tools to suit the wood. It will be worth getting everything right because it is a big tree and I’ll be making hundreds of bowls from it. Then today was full production. 4 days in and I am now in love with my beech tree. It is making the most beautiful clean simple bowls, it’s tough wood so I am turning them a little thinner than I sometimes do, the colour is going to be great when they are finished and oiled. Mostly though it is just a complete joy to cut, there is a theory of “flow” proposed by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, I was completely in a state of flow today, bliss. Oh and it was my first ever 20 bowl day too though I am totally wiped out.