Christmas trees for practice blanks?


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Hey again,

In the interest of saving money for practicing beads and coves, are Christmas trees good to practice on? I was driving home tonight, and all I saw in front of the houses were  piles of straight grain pine waiting to be harvested. 

If not, what do you suggest I use for practice stock?

Thanks again

 

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I think not.  Although the trees may have "dried out"  as a decoration they will still be green, and pine will have a lot of sap.  And if you were going to try it you need to cut off a hunk of trunk, de-bark, etc.  Just get a scrap of 4x4  or similar that is already dried and spin that.  

That's not to say I don't eye my neighbors shade trees thinking "I wonder how many board feet" or I'd love to get my hands on the that burl".  Then I remember The Commandment,  Thow shalt not covet thy neighbors Ash.  

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And don't think about trying to burn that stuff in the fireplace either !  Maybe outside when it's been raining for a week. The fire will spit and pop embers all over the place.  Definitely don't do it west of the Mississippi for a decade or 2... maybe the drought will pass by then. 

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Pros

  • The wood is still green (and has been sitting in a dish of water) so it's soft...for now.
  • For one week of the year, discarded Christmas trees are everywhere and everyone is happy if you'll take them away.  (Side story:  Visited Lion Country Safari in Florida over break one year and watched the staff drive into the giraffe pen with a pickup truck full of old Christmas trees.  The giraffes made short work of the greens but left the trunks.)
  • Turning an ornament from a chunk of last year's tree to add to next year's tree could be a cute tradition.

Cons

  • The trees are typically tiny, generally no more than 4-6 inches at the base.  Unless you're going to include the pith (Ugh!) this limits the maximum size of the blank you're going to get.
  • Branches and knots everywhere.  Yes, you're turning green, but still, it's a rough ride.
  • It's green, so it's going to move as it dries.
  • Conifers are actually tough to carve/turn.  The difference in density between early/late wood is off the chart.  The result is that your tools dull fast on the hard parts while the soft parts shred if you look at them crossways.

As a practice material for someone learning the craft?  Absolutely not.  Get a chunk of hardwood (i.e. anything that had leaves, not needles) and turn that.  There's plenty of candidates sitting in your firewood stack right now.  As a potential tradition that an experienced turner might do to make people say, "Awww, that's so sweet!" when they see it?  Perhaps...but only if the frenzy of turning out gifts before Christmas hasn't left said turner craving time away from the lathe.

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No.

 

No.

 

Without a face shield, sap will be in your eye.   Sap will be all over your tools.  You might even get your tools stuck to you. 

Would you consider turning a maple blank that had leaves on it two days ago and was only air dried?  Didn't think so. 

I've done a lot of turnings with pine, couple nice pieces, but mainly practice pieces.   It does have that wonderful pine scent when turned.  But that was all lumber that was well dried.

 

Now I thought the thread would be about turning christmas trees as a finished piece as a project.  That I can get behind.   I've turned a few, and they are quite cool.   And you get to learn a new skill with offset turning. 

 

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