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bglenden

Bowl blanks cracking?

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Thanks to everyone who helped us get our lathe equipped.

We bought a few 3x6x6 blanks from woodturnerscatalog.com (Craft Supplies) to get started. They don't seem very wet (we don't have a moisture meter), but they did come wrapped in plastic with wax (?) on the end grain. We live in New Mexico which tends to be very low humidity (e.g., right now it is 15%). All of our blanks have cracked to one extent or another as we've turned them. (Usually when the blank was sitting, sometimes over night). Is there something we should be doing to prevent this, or is this just what happens?

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The blanks were at a higher moisture content than your environment.  They may have been sold wet (i.e. green) or were just "damp" relative to New Mexico.  

I do not turn wet wood so I'm not the most well informed, but there are some techiques you can use that I can mention.  

One method is to twice turn.  This is for green wood.  The bowl is fashioned into the gross shape with extra thick walls then placed in a controlled environment where it dries slowly.  The bowl is then final turned.  

With blocks that are damp you can leave them with waxed end grain to come to equilibrium moisture content over several months.  Moisture meter and a scale with which to take serial weights is helpful to follow progress.  

If you start turning a damp block I have seen others talk about misting with water to retard drying and covering with plastic when taking a break from turning.  

The American Association of Woodturners is a good resource for these questions and techniques.

What I recommend for you right now, though is to buy some dry blanks of domestic wood from a local source.  I don't know what woods are common for you.  Mesquite?  It's supposed to turn well.  Does anyone have some maple or cherry?  You don't have to buy a block per se.  A board of 8/4 or 12/4 can be cut into squares.

Dry wood would let you have some fun now while stocking up some other pieces for the future.

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