The Initial Shape
It's now time to take the freshly cut chunk of wood and secure it properly to our lathe. This is done in a number of ways, depending on our selection of equipment. Once secure and prior to turning, we check to make sure that either the bark is removed or secured to the tree section. A loose piece of bark can create an unnecessary hazard. If everything is safe then it's time to turn!
Creating the initial shape sets the tone for the entire wood turning piece aesthetically. We really take time to create something eye pleasing. Balance, size, proportion and the tree's characteristics are all key players in determining the initial shape. If you turn ugly you will get ugly... that's a pretty sure theory at this stage. Within a relatively short period of time an exterior shape is created. It is also essential that we ensure the newly created foot can support the hollowing of this shape, which is logically the next step.
Prior to hollowing, we apply Greenwood Sealer to the exterior shape and allow the piece to dry. Ideally, we allow the foot to dry for 1 month prior to hollowing. We have found that the drier the foot the stronger it is. This allows the piece to withstand the stress of torque which occurs during the hollowing process. Once we are satisfied that the foot won't break during the hollowing phase, the piece is then hollowed evenly (using calipers) and kept to a general thickness of 1 inch. At completion, Greenwood Sealer is generously applied to the interior.
At this point we take a magic marker and write on the exterior two pieces of important information:
- Date the initial turn is completed
We do this for a couple reasons. First, we let our pieces air dry (completely covered in Greenwood Sealer) for 1 year from the date of the completed initial turn. The general rule is that wood takes 1 year to dry for every inch of thickness. That's why our initial wood turnings are calibrated to 1 inch thicknesses. Second, during the 1 year drying process, the dust and dirt acquired on our pieces makes it difficult for us to determine species. Writing it on the piece clarifies everything.
Click here to read about the next step: Re-Shaping to Final Form