Sycamore

Share your latest creations -- photos, of course -- and explain your inspiration, techniques or hurdles overcome.

Sycamore

Postby stephanmoll » Wed Dec 24, 2014 12:42 pm

Found a freshly cut big (ca. 5 feet in diameter) sycamore tree; took several pieces home. The wood had a beautiful red intensity on its cut surface while wet; very heavy, full of water; amazing how much water a tree can hold and how much of its weight is made up of water. Moderately strong, somewhat unpleasant wet wood odor to it; wonder whether fresh sycamore always smells like that. Turned two bowls. Very easy to turn while wet, plenty of water droplets centrifuging off. The wood became surprisingly light-colored and non-red once dried. It darkened a little and became slightly more reddish again with a clear Seal-a-Cell finish (image 1; 6'' bowl). Another piece also became fairly light once dry, but after oiling it with Mahoney's walnut oil got some of its beautiful darkness and redness back (images 2-4; 8'' bowl). Wonder whether sycamore is always reddish, or whether it is due to some iron in the soil where this particular tree grew, particularly as there are some nice very circumscript areas of red pigmentation (image 4) in the wood. Also wonder whether Mahoney's brings out colors and contrast more than Seal-a-Cell or whether the observed difference in change in color with the different finishes is just due to differences in the piece of wood treated. Interesting, enjoyable wood.

Image 1; 6'' sycamore bowl; clear Seal-a-Cell finish


Image 2; 8'' sycamore bowl; Mahoney's walnut oil finish


Image 3; 8'' sycamore bowl; Mahoney's walnut oil finish


Image 4; 8'' sycamore bowl; Mahoney's walnut oil finish
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Re: Sycamore

Postby chrisboerner.com » Thu Dec 25, 2014 11:13 am

Thanks for posting this Stephen! It's great to hear first-hand experiences working with specific wood and how it responds. Seal-a Cell as clear oil should bring out the natural wood grain, but I've also heard good things about Mike Mahoney's Walnut Oil you mention. Very cool to see what works best for you and on different woods. The type of oil could make a noticeable difference, so great you are seeing what works best.

Sycamore as I remember has an odd odor, but it could also be accentuated if the wood is very wet and musty. I know sometimes spinning very wet wood, the water just sprays off, so I always wear a face shield and sometimes a rain jacket!

Thanks again for posting your observations and photos! See you at the next meeting!
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Re: Sycamore

Postby marcbanka » Tue Dec 30, 2014 6:31 pm

I've been turning some local sycamore, which is quite lovely, but lacks the reds in your pieces. I wonder if it's variants of the species, or if it has to do with the tree size. Mine came from logs approximately 24" across. Either way, I really like the character of the wood as well as the ease and predictability of working it.
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Re: Sycamore

Postby stephanmoll » Wed Dec 31, 2014 12:05 am

Thank you, Chris and Marc. Curious to know, Marc: did you note a smell to your sycamore?
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Re: Sycamore

Postby marcbanka » Wed Dec 31, 2014 8:25 pm

No, I don't recall an odor, but could have missed it. I always wear a respirator while turning, so only notice on a break.
That huge log must be wonderful! Might there be any more of it around?
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Re: Sycamore

Postby stephanmoll » Wed Dec 31, 2014 10:42 pm

There is plenty left - almost all of it. Some is starting to spalt - interesting. I have a chainsaw; happy to team up. Let me know. Next few days is good for me.
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