View Full Version : How dry is dry enough for finish turning?

29th Jan 2018, 05:31 PM
I have a bunch of blackbutt, tallow, brushbox and iron bark logs that were cut down 7 to 8 months ago but were only milled into usable blocks/pieces/rounds last week. If I turn some of these pieces, are they going to be green or would they be dry enough to finish turning now? I have to admit, I have never turned a green piece and left it to further dry out so I am coming at this from a position of severe lack of experience.

Skew ChiDAMN!!
29th Jan 2018, 06:28 PM
It depends on what you want out of the round.

A. you're going to be turning fairly thin,
B. you'll finish it relatively quickly in one setting,
C. it won't be something that needs to be a precise size/shape AND
D. you don't mind it warping out of round after you've finished (which is just another way of phrasing C above :wink:)

then the timber is probably fine to turn now...

...otherwise I recommend applying the "let it dry a year for each inch of thickness" rule of thumb.

If you really, really want it to hurry up and dry you can always rough turn a few pieces to, say, an inch and a half wall thickness. But these'll still need quite some time to cure before you remount and finish turn them.

30th Jan 2018, 01:43 PM
Assuming you are making bowls: I rough turn mine with a thickness of 10 to 15 % of the diameter, wrap in 5 - 7 layers of newspaper and let set around in the shed or in the house for 6 to 9 months or a year or two, then finish turning. It depends a lot on when they were cut, humidity, etc.

Even after a long drying time some change shape overnight on the lathe. I boil some roughed bowls overnight in a crock pot, then wrap and dry as above. It does make them more stable and less apt to crack and shortens the drying time some.

I also soak blanks in a half and half mixture of hand dishwashing soap and water for 1 - 3 months, wrap and dry, and then turn. Again less cracking.

Do a search about turning green wood and drying bowl blanks in Google and here.

30th Jan 2018, 09:36 PM
Ive turned a couple of green bowls with reasonable success. Turned to final thickness, dried by putting in a plastic bag and turning the bag inside out each day for several weeks. Then left in a cool ventilated spot for a couple of months. Had very little cracking during drying and put a bit of CA glue on any cracks as soon as I saw them. The bowls end up with an oval shape, out of round by about 10% of the diameter. For this reason had to sand by hand which took longer than spinning it on the lathe.
From my limited experience it pays to finish all your lathe work in the one day, before the bowl goes out of round. This includes removing tool marks and finishing the base.

1st Feb 2018, 06:58 PM
I green turned these 12" blackwood and myrtle bowls in August 2016. I will finish them when it cools down a bit here in Perth, probably in April. So twenty months all up of waiting. Could probably get away with 12 months. After they were turned, I stored them under the shavings for a month, then just let them dry inside the house.