Buying Wood: Why Do YOU Do This?

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Buying Wood: Why Do YOU Do This?

Postby stephanmoll » Sun Nov 15, 2015 11:30 am

No Need to Purchase Wood!?
I have been turning wood for 1½ years now and have bought wood on three occasions. Wood grows so abundantly around us that it doesn’t seem right to me to have to pay for it. Add to it that I also want to know where each wood came from, where the tree grew. And I enjoy meeting the people on whose property the tree stood; and I enjoy harvesting the tree with my chainsaw. All this gives each piece of wood a special story. I seek out trees that have fallen in storms or have been felled for whatever reason; I have informed friends, coworkers and acquaintances of my interest in getting wood. These pathways have provided me with wood for turning over the last 1½ year. I have also won a few pieces in the WGNC raffles.

My First Purchased Wood: Pecan
A year ago – a newcomer to turning, still – I was contemplating going to and exploring the annual Whiteville, NC Pecan Festival, to eventually possibly participate in the event as a vendor, offering pecan bowls. Just at that time WGNC’s Mike Smith had a pecan wood blank for sale at the monthly WGNC meeting. I thought it was a good time to buy the blank and explore what the wood looked like. I did and liked the wood (image below), but realized, that working on a purchased wood blank limits me to experiment: after all, you don’t want to mess up a piece that you paid (a not negligible amount of) money for. I then reached out to get some pecan wood for free - and did, through contacts at work; and not only did I get wood, but also met some nice and interesting people and got to know a beautiful part of rural NC (photo below: Mebane, NC). Woodturning for me is more than just turning wood.

My Second Purchased Wood: Redwood
I did not purchase any further wood for a year, but focused on getting and processing my own wood. But recently, WGNC’s Mike Smith had a wood blank of California redwood at the monthly WGNC meeting. Wow. California has some of my favorite places; and the redwood a very special tree to many, including me. I hiked Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and their redwood forests for weeks when I was younger; Muir Woods National Monument is a very special place to me. A walk in a redwood forests is an awe-inspiring experience.

I thought I should buy the redwood blanks. I know that I will never find a piece of redwood in nature that I can take home and turn; the wood is rare and also, I don’t live in California. So, buying the wood was a no-brainer. I bought three large pieces (image below). Wonderful to be able to explore the redwood as a wood to turn. How surprised have I been that the wood is so light; coming from such giant trees that reach such old ages, I had expected a heavy, dense wood. Not at all.

My Third Purchased Wood: Holly
My third set of wood blanks was a purchase just this weekend. At the WGNC workshop in Bailey - viewtopic.php?f=8&t=92 - we sawed a big holly trunk into planks and wood blanks; nice spalted structures came to light on the cut surfaces.

A coworker and I have been talking about the holly tree in her yard that she had planned to have cut down as it grows too close to her house. And I had expressed an interest in getting the wood for turning. As she decided to not have it cut down after all, I have not gotten my hands on holly for turning. A bowl from the holly we sawed this weekend would, I thought, make a great gift to my coworker for her retirement this spring. So, I bought the three blanks we had cut (image below).

But why three blanks, not just one? Well, one to turn and give away as a gift; another one, because it is always disappointing to have turned something from a nice wood and then not have left anything for oneself after having given it away as a gift; and a third blank, just so that there is room to explore and experiment while turning.

My Conclusion
Even though wood is so abundant and even though my preference is not to buy wood, I guess there are reasons for me to every so often buy some special woods. What are YOUR reasons behind buying wood?









Stephan Moll
Chapel Hill
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Re: Buying Wood: Why Do YOU Do This?

Postby pmcqueen » Tue Dec 15, 2015 11:06 pm

Nicely written Stephan - you are able to put down in words what I think but likely cannot express as well as you did. Thanks for sharing.
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