View Full Version : whats the best timber

20th Jul 2004, 09:28 PM
I'm thinking of turning a bowl on the lathe and was wondering whats the best timber or timbers to use on the lathe?

Tony Morton
20th Jul 2004, 10:49 PM
HI luc
How long is a piece of string, I think you name it you can turn it just some turn better than others .

cheers Tony

20th Jul 2004, 10:56 PM
hi tony yes the string could be endless but i turned a bowl ages ago and it machined like butter i suppose its how sharp my lathe tools are

Cliff Rogers
20th Jul 2004, 11:52 PM
G'day Luc.

Try out the search function on this board.

This subject has been covered in a couple of forums before.

Basically, if you are a learner, anything free that's not too difficult.
If it is an expensive piece, you'll be wasting your money.
If it is something as hard as nails, curly grained, or so soft it tears
the end grain, you'll be discouraged. (avoid 'box makers' pine)

Up here in the north, I'd recommend trying a piece of mango or lychee but....
since you are in Canberra, you are probably a bit short of mango trees...
or any trees for that matter... (sick bush fire joke :( )
Maybe you can get a piece of Camphor Laurel.
I always reckon that fruit tree wood is good to learn on, maybe you can
score some apple, pear or cheery tree. Do mulberry grow down there?
You will always find some one that has fruit trees in their back yard
that they don't want any longer & they can be a source of good free
timber for learners.

If you are better than a beginner, any timber that is classed as cabinet timber
should turn nicely. Burls are also good but can be a challenge.
Tassie timber is good but watch out for blackwood, it can make you crook.

I got my hands on a local rainforest timber we call Sarsaparilla last weekend.
It was still very wet. Boy was it fun... it didn't matter how hard I jammed
the gouge into it, it didn't stop the lathe, it just kept cutting enormous
curly shavings(?) & sprayed water everywhere. It has a pale colour with
an interesting red line in the grain. I roughed out 2 bowls & sat them aside
to dry out for a couple of months.

Wet pine will cut like that but the end grain will tear heaps.

Hope that helps a bit.

21st Jul 2004, 07:10 AM
thanks cliff, yes i am a beginer in that field of woodworking but ive always had a soft spot for the lathe.yes we dont have a lack of burnt timber in canberra the bush fires of 18.1.2003 has destroyed areas not touched at least for 150 years.
No i'm pretty sure this area hasn't got mulbery i might be wrong , once again thanks cliff for your advice.

21st Jul 2004, 09:04 AM
Go and pluck out little Johnnies brain, Im sure its made of wood.

You could also give his heart a go, if you are into stone masonary.


Geoff Allen
21st Jul 2004, 02:22 PM

I thought he was supposed to be the 'suckhole of steel' might need a different sort of lathe.

BTW machined up some blackwood looks bloody marvelous

Geoff thread hyjacker

21st Jul 2004, 02:44 PM
G'day Geoff!!!!!!!!!!!!

Good to see that your still alive. :D

The timber is nice though.


Geoff Allen
21st Jul 2004, 03:07 PM

Well mostly alive. I've hidden most of the timber at work in the corridor where all the staff and customers can see it. Might build a special viewing case and charge $2. fer a lerk.
Have already told the sods who say it would be ideal for making pallets to sodoff.

Anyway back to the thread turned up a dark bit of the blackwood. now wot will I do with another plate!

Geoff :D

21st Jul 2004, 06:38 PM
Hi Luc,
I actually drove back from Canberra last friday and along Rememberance Drive there was allot of gums lying toppled over on the left hills going out of the ACT.
I stopped and picked up ac ouple of branches and a cut trunk. I am going to begin turning them this weekend. Just a thought.

21st Jul 2004, 08:35 PM
Hi Luc, get your hands on anything that is free before you start forking out your hard earned dollars on any decent timber. The trees that babytoolman mentioned probably won't be good for anything other than practice. In my early days a mate of mine gave me some garden sleeper offcuts, they were still a little bit green but they were great for practice. Firewood yards are a good source for something a little bit harder to turn.