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@phinds I was tooling around your website and I realized that besides being addicted to end grain you are quite the bowl turner (very nice work).  So I figured I would not only call your attention to this question, but post it in this section.  

I am wondering what is the best wood for turning bowls.  I have spun walnut, maple, sycamore and several exotics, but tulip poplar seems to take the cake.  As long as you keep your eyes closed, 'cause that stuff is butt ugly at least as far as these eyes behold it.  

I am not talking about rainbow poplar, but the cream colored stuff with the big fat green band on one side.  

I haven't gotten into segmented work (yet) so I am turning large one piece blocks.  The properties of poplar are excellent for this.  What would be the next best thing that would be attractive, or is there a source for non-ugly poplar in a large block (e.g. 8x8x4)?  

Here are some pictures of a walnut bowl I turned to give you an idea of what I'm doing.

20180117_1253121.thumb.jpg.8f6e23e17b2307c6f1838d27a13f41b5.jpg20180117_1253021.thumb.jpg.e9287db02d669ea48df15a1a22f0110e.jpg20180117_1251171.thumb.jpg.7e03a9271fe5a83a1a0148efa2f3c056.jpg

Bringing the tip to a point was a good design, but was not the original intent.  Unfortunately the walnut had a tendency to chip and break along the growth ring planes.  That could be my technique, but either way the poplar is more forgiving.

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That's a very nice winged bowl.

I've turned almost no bowls at all of solid wood, so really can't give you advice there. I've always heard that cherry is nice to turn and the bowls certainly turn out attractive.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been turning a lot of red cedar and pecan bowls lately. Both are fun woods to work with but both have their own idiosyncrasies. The red cedar seems to have a lot of microscopic cracks (this may because of my source) but turns like butter and smells nice. The pecan is hard!!!! But turns well and doesn't seem to have little cracks like the cedar does. 

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56 minutes ago, thatCharlieDude said:

I've been turning a lot of red cedar and pecan bowls lately. Both are fun woods to work with but both have their own idiosyncrasies. The red cedar seems to have a lot of microscopic cracks (this may because of my source) but turns like butter and smells nice. The pecan is hard!!!! But turns well and doesn't seem to have little cracks like the cedar does. 

Red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), when freshly cut, is one of the most beautiful woods in the world, I think, but sadly once it's been exposed for a while it turns dull and boring.

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26 minutes ago, thatCharlieDude said:

That pic was a few weeks after I turned it with light UV exposure. I'll try to get a more recent picture from the owner for comparison purposes. 

Ah. Well in a year or two it will be a dull tan (unless he puts it in a closet under a blanket)

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22 hours ago, phinds said:

Ah. Well in a year or two it will be a dull tan (unless he puts it in a closet under a blanket)

I sure hope they don't fade. Here's a bowl that I turned in Dec 2016. It's cedar. The second picture is of the same bowl as of today (2/2018).  The finish is mineral oil and beeswax. I noticed today that's it's a little dry and needs more mineral oil. I don't notice much fading, there is some most noticable the color is less purple/red, but not bad for 14 months later. 

IMG_20170406_135124.jpg

IMG_20180225_141741.jpg

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3 hours ago, thatCharlieDude said:

I expect it to fade some more but that shouldn't affect the grain, should it?

No, but when the color goes, the grain is considerably less sharply defined and less interesting.

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  • 1 month later...
[mention=15772]phinds[/mention] I was tooling around your website and I realized that besides being addicted to end grain you are quite the bowl turner (very nice work).  So I figured I would not only call your attention to this question, but post it in this section.  
I am wondering what is the best wood for turning bowls.  I have spun walnut, maple, sycamore and several exotics, but tulip poplar seems to take the cake.  As long as you keep your eyes closed, 'cause that stuff is butt ugly at least as far as these eyes behold it.  
I am not talking about rainbow poplar, but the cream colored stuff with the big fat green band on one side.  
I haven't gotten into segmented work (yet) so I am turning large one piece blocks.  The properties of poplar are excellent for this.  What would be the next best thing that would be attractive, or is there a source for non-ugly poplar in a large block (e.g. 8x8x4)?  
Here are some pictures of a walnut bowl I turned to give you an idea of what I'm doing.
20180117_1253121.thumb.jpg.8f6e23e17b2307c6f1838d27a13f41b5.jpg20180117_1253021.thumb.jpg.e9287db02d669ea48df15a1a22f0110e.jpg20180117_1251171.thumb.jpg.7e03a9271fe5a83a1a0148efa2f3c056.jpg
Bringing the tip to a point was a good design, but was not the original intent.  Unfortunately the walnut had a tendency to chip and break along the growth ring planes.  That could be my technique, but either way the poplar is more forgiving.

Mark. I have big poplar and wormy soft maple bowl blanks if you want to pay for the shipping (unless you live close to ATL). Cut them into rounds and waxed them in the summer of 2016.
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