A Riddle

Today was a beautiful day – warm and sunny. I went to work and, four hours later when I finished, my left side was completely soaked, my right side was dry, and I was standing two inches taller. What was I doing? Do you need a hint? If not, I know that you have done it before or heard this story before.

Hint #1: Shavings. Okay, that’s probably not much help as I’m sure you already guessed it had something to do with woodworking. Now think – what would produce shavings like those?

Hint #2: What is that blurry thing in the foreground?

Hint #3: Okay… what does this have to do with the other two pictures? Everything!

Got it?

Yes, I was turning some very green wood. Yesterday, my friend Dave brought down an apple tree on a lot where a house was levelled the previous week. Today, he and I went back to the site and milled the tree into boards. Using aluminum rails to guide the chainsaw, outfitted with and Alaskan mill, Dave cut off a 3″ thick slab off the top so that there would be a flat surface on which the mill could rest on for the next cut. The rest of the cuts were done with the mill set to cut at 2-1/2″ thick. I loaded the wood into my truck and drove home, stacked and stickered the bole on a skid in my backyard.

I decided to turn some bowls out of the 3″ thick slab, so I laid out three blanks with a clear plastic circle template (awesome tool, by the way – every bowl turner should have one!). I cut out the rounds on the bandsaw and bored a 1/4″ hole in the center of the side we’d milled flat (the other side was still covered with bark) for mounting on a screw chuck. I threaded the screw chuck onto the headstock of my lathe, spun on the bowl blank, checked by hand that the blank spun free and that the lathe was set at its lowest speed and turned the lathe on.

Immediately, water started flying off the blank like a sprinkler. I covered the bed of my jointer located 6′ in front of the lathe with a towel and sprayed on a fresh coat of Boeshield on my bandsaw table directly adjacent to the lathe. I slowly turned up the variable speed of the lathe until it and the bench it was clamped to started to shake, then backed it off until the shaking stopped. Then I started to turn.

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