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Creating Platters


Large, heavy pieces of wood, spinning at high speeds is not for the faint of heart.

The first 30 min of turning is often quite tense: the "blank"piece is not balanced and the resulting vibrations cause enormous forces.  At times I can see the entire lathe flex. When 2000 lbs of steel starts moving on its own...its not re-assuring!  By the 3rd picture, the piece is 40 lbs, and the rest is now wood chips on the floor.  

​That's when a snow shovel  comes in handy. The piece is "rough-cut" to its approximate shape and then dried for 6-12 months in the cellar.  Drying is intentionally very slowl, to minimize cracking. Normally pieces distort significantly while drying, so they go back on the lathe for final turning, then sanding and later finishing. Large pieces like this  can easily take a year to complete and require about 20-30 hours of work.

Isle of Serenity

This large "platter" is turned from the end grain of a 28" maple trunk.  Harvested in the fall of 2014, it spent the winter frozen until Feb.  All of my pieces start out soaking wet, raw wood, I do not pre-dry the wood. 
A mechanical hoist is used to move and mount pieces that are often over 200 lbs.  A 16" faceplate was bolted onto the wood and threaded onto the headstock.

Taking Flight

Slightly different and a lot more challenging. This end grain platter or winged bowl is from the crotch of a maple tree and yields a very different design.

The wings in this case are very unequal. Sometimes its better to depart from the usual symmetry and let the wood dictate the shape.
The base is higher than usual as well and allows visual space for it to fly.

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