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What are U doing today? > Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009 - What are U doing today?

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message 1: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009
Today I'm enjoying the company of our Son #3 who came yesterday to help us celebrate our 49th Anniversary. He's still asleep. It's so good to have one of the kids in the nest again, even if it's just for a day. The other kids have been here to celebrate too, but today we're enjoying Son #3, 45 years old, but still a kid to me. (I never see them as grown men.) (g)

message 2: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments I got to play a lot out in the shop today. Nasty outside. Rain, wind, now snow. Yuck. A friend & I went around Louisville yesterday during lunch & got some new wood to turn, so I'm having fun.

message 3: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments A good way to pass the time. Where do you find the new wood, Jim? What do you look for?

BTW, Bobby went home and the nest is empty now. But my sister will be arriving later. I'm looking forward to that.

message 4: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments The wood is from the ice storm. Still plenty of it down all over. I'm not the only one who hasn't cleaned it all up.

I look for types of wood I don't normally get to turn. I got a piece of Dogwood that, if it isn't cracked too much, will make the biggest bowl of it that I've ever seen. Maybe a 10" bowl! That's huge for that tree. Ditto with Red Bud, although that bowl might be 12" & the wood is almost all heart wood, which is dark - almost a Walnut color.

I also got some Beech, Magnolia, Cherry & River Birch. I'll have to get to the Cherry this week or it will crack up too much to use since it dries fast. The Beech & Magnolia aren't very big, but I wanted the former for making tools & tool handles. I've never tried making a glut (club) out of Beech before. I've always used Dogwood. Magnolia isn't great turning wood. It's soft. Part of the Poplar family. Still, I don't get to turn it often.

Attached to the logs was some English Ivy, so I stuck a couple of pieces in the ground. I hope they'll take off. Not sure where I'll put it, but not against a building! I'll figure out a trellis or something.

message 5: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim, what do you do to the carved bowls to prevent them from drying up and cracking?

Several years ago, we bought wood from Home Depot or Lowes. I guess it was pine. A carpenter used the wood to design and build a small cabinet to match our other kitchen cabinets. He did a a good job. But now, several years later the two cabinet doors no longer meet in the center when they are closed. There's about 3/4 of an inch between the edges. The wood shrank as it dried out.

message 6: by Jim (last edited Feb 24, 2009 05:00AM) (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments Uh oh! You hit a hot button!!!

It's a popular myth now that kiln dried wood won't shrink or change shape any more. Bill Thomas, who runs Thomas' Sawmill in Fallston, MD, even told me that. Wrong!!!

One of the reasons American antique wooden furniture is so desirable is because much of it is made from first growth forest wood. Old, solid wood. Most pine you get today is being cut too early. The damned Spotted Owl pushed forests into production 20 years early. SPF 2x4's used for framing walls (usually Balsam Fir) were about worthless in the early 90's. Not much better today.

Any time a cabinet maker uses wood, he should let it settle in a controlled climate for a good 6 months for 1x lumber, a year for 2x, even if it is kiln dried. Don't use boards wider than a few inches; slice wider boards & flip them before gluing back together, if you want stability. If you want pretty, you'll keep the wide boards, but you need to frame them & give them room to move, as in a door panel.

Wood is ALWAYS going to move. As humidity changes, so does the wood, especially younger wood. You can NOT seal it perfectly. If you ever want to see a fight, ask 2 furniture makers if you should seal both sides of a table top. You design for that movement, like in a door panel. They sit in grooves & aren't glued so they can move within the narrower, more stable frame. Check out even old furniture that people made in MA, NY or CN & then take to AZ or NM - or vice versa. It can ruin the piece by pulling apart joints or forcing them together.

Every species shrinks different amounts, even different trees or parts of the tree do. Wood shrinks more transversely than it does radially. It shrinks least along its length. Some woods can hold up to 200% moisture content, but don't start to deform until you get down to around 28%. Then they do most of their changing until 12-14%, which is considered air dry. They'll change more as they approach 7-8% (kiln dry). That last is generally less movement, but can often be where you get cracks since the wood losses some elasticity.

I don't use a moisture meter, but I get it down to a bit too dry & then let it bounce back up to a stable moisture content before finishing it. I judge it by weight. When a bowl gains a few grams after sitting for a day, then it's been dry enough.

I turn eggs out of a wood I haven't turned before & dry them in the microwave. It takes almost a week. I look at the deformation & then turn bowls in shapes that can deal with the movement. I dry them in the microwave usually, too. Sometimes I want a lot of deformation, other times I don't. Some woods do better with it, like the fruit woods (Pear, Apple & Cherry), Dogwood & Beech. They're semiporous woods, having a tighter grain without big vessels that allow the wood to split. Ring porous woods, such as the Oaks & Ash won't take as much deformation, but will split. Maple is also semiporous, but tends to be very stable.

It's kind of an art. You can push different trees, cuts of that tree & stages of drying sometimes. After fiddling with it for years, I still get it wrong & have bowls split. Knots, cross grain & other things can change the stresses with in the wood.

That was probably way more than you wanted to know on the subject & is just the tip of it. I wrote notes (& need to update them) on the subject. They're on my website:
& look toward the bottom for the Wood Notes. They're in 3 parts; 2 on hardwoods & one of softwoods. They're in Word format. The first one has pictures & explanations of how woods deform, ring structure, how boards are cut & why.

message 7: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Wow, Jim. You are quite a specialist in woods! I didn't realize there was so much to it. Thanks for the explanations.

I often worry about a piano we have which is in a second floor sitting room which gets very warm in the summer time. The sound board is such a critical part of the piano. I'll bet they have to be very careful in making sound boards for pianos.

How/why does the Spotted Owl push forests into production too early?

message 8: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments Protecting the spotted owl closed off a lot of forest that was scheduled to be logged for older timber. Since they couldn't do it, the logging companies wound up harvesting other trees that shouldn't have been used yet. Too immature.

The whole forest thing is a mess from so many different angles. Between loggers, landscapers & conservationists that don't know enough, the forests are in rough shape.

Loggers just want logs. To hell with the wildlife or soil! They're forced to plant back, but they're creating single species forests which isn't great habitat & is dangerous.

Conservationists don't want any logging or burning. Not getting logs means more reliance on other structural materials which create their own issues. Not allowing burning harms many species (some need fire to reproduce) chokes up the forest with undergrowth & means when there is a fire, it's a doozy!

Landscapers, not just the companies, but our government, scientists & homeowners, bring species from around the globe & that causes problems as some of them go wild & crowd out natural species or kill them off. There are lots of imported diseases, bugs, plants & trees that are causing us problems.

In 1904, an imported plant brought along an Asian fungus that wiped out the American Chestnut, which was 25 - 30% of the trees in the Appalachians. Later we got the Dutch Elm disease & now we have a couple of others, including one that is rotting off healthy, mature oaks about an inch above the ground. Almost like a chainsaw.

The Green Ash Borer has caused lots of issues with the Ash trees north of us. I saw one last year on my house, so I guess we're going to start losing them.

Some invasive species like the White/Paper Mulberry's (got lose from colonists who were trying for silk production) aren't terrible. Others, like Japanese Honeysuckle or Mile-a-minute weed, choke trees so they can't get started & replace fallen ones.

Some of the worst mistakes have been made by our government. They 'tested' the spread of Multifloral Rose before planting it on the sides of roads. One of their findings was that it couldn't be spread by birds eating the seeds. Stupidly, they tested it on 3 species of birds that have a gravel. They didn't test it on song birds which don't. A seed eaten & excreted by a song bird has a much better chance of sprouting, for obvious reasons.

Oh, it is such a crying shame how much ignorance there is in the world, especially about things as precious as trees! I really try to promote using local trees for craft work. We have so many beautiful woods that there is no reason to plunder foreign forests.

message 9: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments It's sad to hear about all of that.

When we were kids, we had fun with the chestnuts from the tree on the corner. The kids drilled holes in the shiny brown nuts from inside the green shell, and put them in rows on strings. Are there no chestnut trees left?

Is the ash you mention, the Mountain Ash which has red berries in the fall? We have one but I think the lichen is killing it. Our neighbor's is in much better shape. Perhaps they're paying to have it fertilized.

I hate to see any trees go. Some of the huge older trees in our neighborhood have to be cut down because they're past their safe stage. One of ours split in half and almost landed on our car. It was a calm day, no ice or snow. Just an old tree rotted from within. Frightening.

message 10: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments There are very few American Chestnuts left. Probably less than 100 out of roughly 3 billion. One is here in Kentucky

Old trees need to get cut down & new ones planted in neighborhoods. A friend's wife was almost killed when a limb came down on her car while driving several years ago. It happens. Nothing lives forever.

Most of the Ash we have are White Ash (Fraxinus americana). No red berries. The only real Ash that I know of by that name is the Texas Ash (Fraxinus texensis). The ashes get small purple flowers without petals in the Spring & have brown or red-brown winter buds.

What you call a 'Mountain Ash' is probably not an Ash at all if it gets red berries in the Fall. Sounds more like some kind of evergreen - is it? Common names are rough. They often have no bearing on the actual type of tree. It's why I decided to get into tree identification, because I didn't know anything. Still don't know much.

message 11: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Thanks for the great article about the Chestnut Tree. It's a miracle that the tree in KY survived. I had no idea about any of that. I hope they can bring the Chestnut Trees back so that they can flourish again.

Our Mountain Ash isn't an evergreen. It loses all its leaves in the winter.

Below is a link to an album showing the tree in its different stages from April through August.

PS-How do you like that huge Arborvitae tree next to the Ash? I love it because it affords us some privacy. Of course its an evergreen. The Arborvitae seem to grow well in our neighborhood.

message 12: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments Arborvitae are Junipers & they seem to thrive every where. The Easter Red Cedar is also a Juniper & they, along with Black(Yellow) Locusts are among the first to get started in the poor soil around here. I like the former a lot more than the latter. The thorns on the Locust are tough & MEAN. They'll poke right through a tire, just like Multifloral Rose.

I can't identify your tree from the photos for sure, but it looks like an American Mountain Ash. Take a look at this site & see what you think:

If that's the case, then it's actually part of the Rose family & is Pyrus americana, closely related to the Chokeberry. White Ash are Fraxinus, part of the Oleaceae family. Totally different. That's why common names are so misleading.

message 13: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Feb 25, 2009 10:26AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim, your link says the tree is the European Mountain Ash, not the American Mountain Ash. But it does look like the one we have, especially the red berries. The leaves look very familiar, but I'll have to check in the spring when they appear again. Thanks for the link. I've saved it and saved the webpage as well.

It says: "Requires additional water during droughts.". I think ours needs more water when there's not enough rain during the summer. That may explain some of the dried up branches and leaves I've been observing over the years.

Also, the page says "full sun". I notice that the part of our tree which gets more shade, doesn't have as many blossoms on it during the spring, or as much fullness in general.

Interesting to know that the arboritae are junipers. We have other kinds of junipers and they seem very hardy as well. The deer don't like to eat them because they're prickly. That's a good thing because the deer are eating our other small evergreens (yews) bare, and even though there's new growth in the spring, it's never enough to bring the yews back to their original fullness. The deer are plentiful at our summer location near the woods and mountains. They even ignore the electric fence Eddie put up this year and go right past it. Must be very hungry with all this snow.

message 14: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments Oops, sent you the wrong link. You're right, that's a Sorbus aucuparia. I was looking at it because it's very similar to the American one & the pictures were better. Here's the correct link:
I think the European one gets bigger, but the red berries & leaves are similar.

It could be either one, anyway. Landscapers have put all kinds of imported trees into our ecosystem. That's how we got the Chestnut Blight & the Dutch Elm Disease to start with.

message 15: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments The deer probably are hungry. There are way too many of them most places. We killed off their natural predators & instead of taking their place, we let them live. Some of the parks in MD had to fence off sections & hire hunters because the deer got so destructive. There were still too many. The kindest & best thing to do is eat more of them. I don't care for venison anymore though.

message 16: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim wrote: "Oops, sent you the wrong link. You're right, that's a Sorbus aucuparia. I was looking at it because it's very similar to the American one & the pictures were better. Here's the correct link: "

That doesn't look like a tree, does it?
Perhaps it's very young.
But the leaves look about right.

message 17: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Mar 13, 2009 01:25PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim wrote: "The deer probably are hungry. There are way too many of them most places. We killed off their natural predators & instead of taking their place, we let them live. Some of the parks in MD had to ..."

I've never tasted venison.

I must say that the deer are among the most beautiful creatures I've ever seen... so graceful and placid looking. They often get hit by cars on the road near our summer place. Hate to see that.

They cross the road to eat the apples which fall from our neighbor's tree. They also cross the road to eat everyone's shrubbery. :)

We have plenty of hunters in the Adirondacks who enjoy the hunting season here. So that helps to keep the deer population under control.

As for beautiful creatures, I once saw up close, from a tour boat in Maine, some harbor seals. Their eyes are so human-like and when they look at you, it's so touching to see such gorgeous almond-shaped eyes, which seem to have such a sweet expression. I've never forgotten that day, especially the moment when a seal and I seemed to be looking straight at one another in silent communication.

message 18: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments We used to play in the sea off the coast of Maine by Penobscott. Lots of seals there & they are neat. There were tons of rocks they'd sun themselves on & islands just off the coast. It was lots of fun to canoe around them, although we'd get in trouble if caught. The tides go through there unbelievably fast & hard, so it was dangerous. Of course, we'd sneak out there every chance we got.

I used to drive next to & over the Loch Raven resevior on my way to work each morning. I had 3 deer run into my truck one year. No, I didn't hit them, they hit me. One put a dent right above my rear tire. Dumb beasts. They are pretty, but a dead oyster has more sense sometimes.

After seeing them over populate & ruin part of the Gunpowder State Park, they've never seemed so harmless or cute. They ate the place down to where there was no undergrowth & erosion took off. It caused extensive damage.

message 19: by Nina (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:48PM) (new)

Nina | 6069 comments Jim,

What an interesting message you wrote about different kinds of trees and their uses. You have a ton of knowledge concerning this subject and it should be of interest to anyone. Whatever would we do without trees?? I am certain you are familiar with the Osage Orange trees. In our part of the "woods" they are referred to as Hedge trees because they separated the farm lands like fences. We had a huge one in our previous house; I should say our house was built in the center of the hedge row so the only trees they cut from it to put in the house weres enough to plop in the house foundation. It was quite interesting to live almost in a tree house. But I hated gathering the hedge apples. Once my daughter rode her horse to our place and when he started eating them we rushed out to throw them over the fence before he could be sick or worse, die..nina

message 20: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim, I remember the seals sunning themselves on the rocks. What a life, eh? :)

I understand your negative feelings about the deer. Now that they've chewed away the bushes in front of our summer place year after year, I'm beginning to have mixed feelings about them.

Nina, yes, I too am amazed at the "ton of knowledge" which Jim has about so many things. He's an interesting guy.

message 21: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments There's a LOT about trees & wood I still need to learn. They're amazingly complex & rarely documented well. I wrote up my wood notes because I found that books that identified trees well didn't say anything about the wood & vice versa. My ignorance when I first started turning 'found' wood was so incredible that I was horrified. Here I'd been raised on a farm, roaming the woods daily & yet I didn't know a thing about the trees! I thought I did, but I didn't. I was a carpenter for years, too.

If you get a chance, you should glance through the first one. It has hyper links in it to take you to various sections which are mostly each species of tree. I have personal notes on using the wood, then I've swiped notes from a bunch of other sources, including pictures. It deals with just local woods that I've worked with, not necessarily native woods, though.

message 22: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments Nina, Osage Orange or Hedge Apple is one of the prettiest native woods to turn. It's very hard, a lot like Black Locust, except it's orange instead of OD green. Osage Orange is actually a native of East Texas & it grows a lot straighter & bigger there. Indians used to use it for bows. In our more northern climates, it doesn't usually get big & straight enough for that, but does make a great hedge row. It was transplanted for just that purpose. Like Black Locust, it weathers very well. Unlike Black Locust, it doesn't make good fence posts because it tends to get too bushy & is slow growing. It's not as convenient for the saw mills as the Locust.

Horses are absolutely stupid about what they'll eat. A hedge apple or two won't hurt, but they'll eat a dozen & colic or at least get a belly ache. The only thing worse is a pony. Good thing you took them away. Yes, the apples are a pain, but at least they don't draw yellow jackets the way real apples do.

Some of the prettiest pieces I've ever turned have been out of Osage Orange. It's so hard & brittle, that it can be tough to work, but it will sand down to shine with just a bit of wax. I recently turned a couple of bowls out of it & my wife stole the biggest & best. Said she'd always wanted one. It's about 12" around & 5" deep. Just gorgeous & pretty thin, too.

message 23: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments I guess we don't have Osage Orange trees in NYS. Wiki says they're found in Eastern PA, but it doesn't mention NY.

I looked at your webpage, Jim. Interesting about rocking chairs. You wrote:
"A rocking chair is usually made up of 4 or 5 species of wood that can look very similar, but each are used where their characteristics strengthen the chair, yet let it be as thin & light as possible until it looks positively fragile. If you've ever watched Mel Gibson in "The Patriot" there is a scene where he is attempting to make a light rocking chair. His latest attempt fails under his weight & joins the others in his pile of failures. If you don't use Hickory for the spindles, Oak for the rockers, etc. this is what happens."
Gee, I never even wondered what kind of wood our rocking chair is made of. All I know is that years ago our dog chewed the ends of the rockers on it. :)

We gave our son a folding rocking chair made of wood. It cost about $100 or a bit more. It's held up well. Don't know what kind of wood it's made of but it's a blond color and very sturdy.

message 24: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments You do have Osage Orange trees in NY, Joy. I've seen them on Long Island & around Catskill State Park. They're most obvious in the Fall when they drop big green seed balls, about the size of a large orange or small grapefruit. We used to call them 'monkey brains' & throw them at each other. They're pretty hard, so it hurt to get hit. They'll spatter if you hit a bony part hard enough. Fun.

Rocking chairs can be made out of one wood or just a couple, but the really light weight ones were generally 4 or 5. Often Elm was used for the seat, since it has a complex grain that doesn't split easily. Ash bends well & keeps the bend, so it was often used for the rockers. Hickory is very strong & pliable, so it was usually used for the rungs on the back. Maple & Oak were often used for other rungs & the arms.

Something I've never mastered is the way they managed such a natural, homogeneous finish on the variety of woods. Oaks & Ash are very open grained, so they'd have to be filled. They can also be different colors, as are Hickory, Elm & Maple. While they often painted old rockers, they were also stained & it's incredible how even it is. Time helps a lot, but it's one awesome skill, too.

It looked to me like Mel Gibson was making his chair out of White Pine. It's a nice wood, but not for a chair. It doesn't have the strength, especially not for a light-weight one.

message 25: by Nina (last edited Feb 26, 2009 07:41AM) (new)

Nina | 6069 comments So interesting that you made a bowl from what I considered not good for much trees except for surrounding fields and my house. Our hedge row trees some of which stood tall and sturdy were very tall and had a huge girth. The ones in back of our house did not stand tall however and they branched out over our deck which my husband built.It was surrounded by the limbs. He built the deck around them. They came up through it. Our deck was on the second level and was quite a feat for him to tackle alone. Our cat, Rover, watched with interest the entire proceeding; moving from one piece of lumber to the next as the master builder did. your bowls from that wood must be marvelous. nina

message 26: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments That's cool having trees so close to your deck - until they break! With the ice & wind we get here, I'm glad we don't have any large trees near the house.

2d floor decks are a bear, especially as a one man job. They take forever. Up & down, up & down, etc.

Bows have to be made of really clear wood that will split almost perfectly straight. I've see large ones, but it's rare to find one that would make a good bow. Most have too many knots or twisted grain.

The biggest one I saw in MD was 2.5' in diameter, but by the time it got to that age, it had rotted in the center. I've seen some 2' diameter ones that were clear, but never had a chance to do more than look at most.

Bowls generally take a log that is at least an inch or two over twice their diameter. So my 12" bowl had to come from a tree that was about 26" in diameter. Unfortunately, besides being bent & twisted, the farmer had it cut up into firewood lengths before I got any of the wood. That's often the case with my found wood. I don't know they're taking it down until I see it laying near the firewood pile.

message 27: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Feb 26, 2009 08:05AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim wrote: "You do have Osage Orange trees in NY, Joy. I've seen them on Long Island & around Catskill State Park. They're most obvious in the Fall when they drop big green seed balls, about the size of a la..."

That's interesting, Jim. We've never heard of the Osage Orange/Hedge Apple trees before this. Perhaps they don't like the North Country. (g)

But if you say they're found around Catskill State Park in NY, they should also be found elsewhere in downstate NY near where we were raised, in Westchester County.

I can't understand why we're not familiar with them. They certainly are a distinctive tree with those big green seed balls you describe. I've made a note about them and will ask about them at our Garden Center in town.

message 28: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6069 comments Joy,

I used to bribe my grandson by paying him a dollar a sack to pick up those hedge balls. They were a royal nuisance. Now I see them in magazines as an accent for floral arrangements but I could never bring myself to use them..nina

message 29: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Nina wrote: "Joy, I used to bribe my grandson by paying him a dollar a sack to pick up those hedge balls. They were a royal nuisance. Now I see them in magazines as an accent for floral arrangements but I c..."

Yes, I can imagine what a nuisance the hedge balls could be. Same thing for the crab apple trees next door to us. The rotten fruit on the ground is a pain in the neck.

As for floral arrangements, I'm always impressed with the artistic creativity of folks who make floral arrangements and use so many of nature's plants in so many beautiful ways.

Dried eucalyptus is a good example. See: ====>

Here's some fresh eucalyptus: ====>

Below is an example of dried eucalyptus mixed with silk sunflowers: ====>
So pretty!

message 30: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim wrote: "So my 12" bowl had to come from a tree that was about 26" in diameter".

Wow, Jim. It must be hard to find that large a piece of wood. A tree 26" in diameter must be a very old tree!

When I was in my twenties, I bought a wooden salad bowl as a wedding shower gift for a friend. It had very low sides but was over a foot in diameter. I've never forgotten it because, after I bought it, I thought to myself that it was an impractical gift, since the salad would fall out and over the low sides of the bowl. Therefore, I remember it as a poor choice for a gift. However, now, all these years later, hearing you speak of the art of making these bowls, I'm thinking it was a pretty good gift after all. :)

message 31: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments Wooden bowls for salads are all the rage these days. My grandmother picked up an old dough bowl that my cousin now uses for that purpose. Dough bowls are usually oblong, sometimes with lower sides, since they were often chopped out of half a log, not turned on a lathe.

Unfortunately, in these sue-happy days, making a wooden bowl for use with food can run the craftsman into all kinds of problems. There can be all kinds of weird state laws to follow because, unless proper care is taken, the wood can harbor bacteria. So you need to wash them well, but gently with soap, dry completely & oil them. They should be washed & oiled every month or so, even when not used.

Many oils don't ever dry. Vegetable oils (olive oil & such) can go rancid. Nut oils take longer to go rancid, but can. Some oils, like Walnut oil, can be bad for some people. My wife is allergic to Walnuts & the oil. Hard finishes, like polyurethane & shellac, won't go bad, but can wear off & metal or plastic implements can poke holes in them. Holes in them leaves niches for the bacteria to grow.

Maple, Beech, Sycamore & even Ash were generally used for wooden bowls & utensils by the Colonists because they're tasteless woods. Maple is the best. It's hard, has a tight grain & is stable. Beech can shrink/deform a lot & is really hard, often brittle. Sycamore is too soft & you have to be careful to get solid grain. Ash is way too porous. If the pores aren't filled properly & kept completely filled, it's a honeycomb for bacteria.

I don't sell bowls as 'food safe', although we use some for that & I'll give them to friends & family members. We usually use a 'block oil' a blend of oils that is mostly mineral oil with some fruit oils in it made for butcher blocks. Plain mineral oil is just fine, but it never dries.

message 32: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim wrote: "...unless proper care is taken, the wood can harbor bacteria. So you need to wash them well, but gently with soap, dry completely & oil them. They should be washed & oiled every month or so, even when not used.
Many oils don't ever dry. Vegetable oils (olive oil & such) can go rancid. Nut oils take longer to go rancid, but can. Some oils, like Walnut oil, can be bad for some people. ... Plain mineral oil is just fine, but it never dries."

There's so much to the art of wood! As you said above it takes skill to get a "natural, homogeneous finish on the variety of woods" when using them on one piece like a rocking chair. I'm sure furniture refinishers have a hard time matching the old finish.

Now you've brought up the subject of which oils and finishes to use to make bowls "food safe". It's mind boggling.

We have some small wooden "peanut" serving dishes. One style is flattish and shaped like a maple leaf, our souvenir from our honeymoon in Canada. Another is a small round bowl, very pretty with wide scallops around the inside of the curved edge. We've been putting peanuts in them for years. I suppose the peanut oil could be rancid by now. Hate to wash them because it might change the color. So I only wipe them.

I notice that the oil from the peanuts darkens the wood.

message 33: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments Peanut oil wiped out over the years isn't bad. Believe me, you know it when an oil goes rancid!

Finishing is an art I've never perfected. I have a few simple things I do, but it's not a part I enjoy. Good restorers & finishers have all my respect, like people who turn bowls made out of lots of pieces of wood. It's another facet of the art, but not one that is of interest to me.

I like being able to go home & turn a bowl in an hour or two. It's great to see something tangible after a day working on computers, where everything looks the same as when I arrived.

message 34: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6069 comments Joy H. (of Glens Falls) wrote: "Nina wrote: "Joy, I used to bribe my grandson by paying him a dollar a sack to pick up those hedge balls. They were a royal nuisance. Now I see them in magazines as an accent for floral arrangemen..."I love those eucalyptus leaves in anything. thanks for the site. nina

message 35: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim wrote: "Peanut oil wiped out over the years isn't bad. Believe me, you know it when an oil goes rancid!"

Well, that's reassuring, Jim. I'll give the "sniff test" to the oil in my wooden dishes. :)

I can understand your love of the creativity in turning a bowl. I've never been good at creating things with my hands, although I've tried.

However, I do enjoy word processing... it is a small way of being creative,
however infinitesimal. :)

And then there were my poems... wherever did that muse go?

She's hiding.

message 36: by Jim (last edited Feb 27, 2009 03:33AM) (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments I've always been handy, although my taste is questionable, I suppose. As long as I remember I've been fixing things & making them. I remember my mother throwing up her hands in disgust when me & a friend came home when I was about 7. I was driving the pony cart & towing an old riding lawn mower we'd found in a dump in the woods near my friend's house. He was a couple of years older, but it took my father to get it running. It was our go-kart for a few months until we busted the rear axle.

Of course, the downside to all that fiddling was the trouble I got into playing Curious George & the stuff that wound up in my pockets. I remember finding something like a mushroom that wound up almost ruining a pair of pants. Another time she found a dead toad in my pocket. I got whipped just because I forgot to clean out my pockets again. The woman had no sense of adventure.

My rocket craze when I was about 10 really had Mom going though. Model rockets that would go hundreds of feet in the air also tended to get into the worst situations when a fin would break or something. They also tended to parachute to safety into the worst places. I remember a neighbor man getting really upset when he found me up on the roof of his barn retrieving one from his coupla. Seemed to think I might fall & break my neck. Worry worts!

message 37: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim wrote: "Of course, the downside to all that fiddling was the trouble I got into playing Curious George & the stuff that wound up in my pockets."

LOL - Remember the poem "What Are Little Boys Made Of?". "Snips and snails, and puppy-dogs' tails...".

I'll bet you're a Rube Goldberg too. My husband, Eddie, loves to tinker with machines. In fact he used to repair audio-visual machines for the school system where he taught. He will never procrastinate anything having to do with fixing a machine. He goes right to it.

BTW, in searching for the "Little Boys" poem above, I found out that "the rhyme is part of a larger work called 'What Folks Are Made Of' or 'What All the World Is Made Of'". See the following links: ====>

Here's an excerpt:
What are young men made of, made of?
What are young men made of?
Sighs and leers and crocodile tears;
That's what young men are made of.


We could have some fun with that format!

What are book readers made of?
What are book readers made of?
Bookmarks and pages and tales of all ages,
That's what book readers are made of...

message 38: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments He doesn't seem to have a very high opinion of nurses.

I love Rube Goldberg devices. I think each of the kids & I made at least one for a school project.

Send this link to Eddie. He'll get a kick out of it. Tell him to make sure to look at the back.
It's a binary calculator that uses marbles. Pretty cool & this is the creator's page, so he describes all the gory details.

message 39: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim wrote: "Send this link to Eddie."

Thanks, Jim. I sent the "binary calculator" link to Eddie and also to our Son #3, Bob, who really loves that kind of detail.

Bob was a model builder when he was a kid and we have models of boats and sailboats he built which include tiny intricate knots which tie the sails to the masts, etc. Amazing stuff for a kid... such patience. He was always that way... creating all kinds of things.

Bob is an audio engineer and also an inventor. He's designing a new kind of musical instrument and is involved in N.I.M.E., "New Interfaces for Musical Expression". For details, see: ====>
He's also been involved in a designing a musical device with other inventors. The project was on exhibit at the Whitney Museum in NYC.

He also teaches a class on fiberglassing things like boats and whatever. He's always busy doing something different. :)

Eddie got a kick out of the link you sent. Thanks!

message 40: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments Bob would fit in where I work just fine. We make sound systems for high-end motorcycles. We have all kinds of engineers on staff & have a few patents, too.

My father used to make models. I had some metal models of old cars that he made for years, but sadly they all disappeared over the years. I did some myself, but don't have any around any more. My favorites were making rockets that I could put rocket motors in, some from scratch.

Sounds like we have a lot in common. No wonder you & I get along so well! You had a boy just like me. He's just a few years younger, too. Close enough at this distance, although I hit 50 in a couple of weeks. (I know, it's only a number...) ;-)

message 41: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6069 comments Joy, your boy must have been a "wonder Kid." I am sure you must be proud of him. Rightly so, and were you ever astounded at his expertise? Right after Russia launched The Sputnik, my husband who was a mechanical engineer by profession, before he became involved with computers, worked for a firm in Milwaukee that was building our answer to the Sputnik, the Thor missle. Our daughter who was seven at the time told her teacher, "My daddy is building a missle in his good clothes." And her younger brother upon hearing what his father was doing asked, "Daddy where did you get all that wood?" Out of the mouths of babes. That son grew up to be an engineer also, but he never invented anything. He worked recently for a company in Norway but lives in San Diego. The world is small. And I do like your water view quote. I totally agree. nina

message 42: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim wrote: "Bob would fit in where I work just fine. We make sound systems for high-end motorcycles."

Jim, why would a motorcycle need a sound system? I don't quite understand.

Our boys fooled around with rockets too. I remember those days. Do you remember the Matt Mason space toys? See: ====>
I still have them in the attic.

So... you'll soon be 50, eh? Our oldest hit 48 this month. Bob was born in 1965. That makes him 43, I think. Yes, Bob sounds a lot like you. What day in March is your birthday?

message 43: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Nina wrote: "Joy, your boy must have been a "wonder Kid." I am sure you must be proud of him. Rightly so, and were you ever astounded at his expertise? Right after Russia launched The Sputnik, my husband who ..."

Yes, I guess we mothers and grandmothers take a lot of pride in our kids and grandkids. It's only natural.

Loved your story of your husband's work on the Thor missile.

message 44: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments St. Patrick's Day = 50

The big touring bikes have EVERYTHING, it seems like to me, including sound systems so they can blow away the wildlife as they cruise down the road. CD changers, tuners, iPod connectors & all are just part of the package. There's also in-helmet speakers both for music & intercoms.

We have a speaker guru who designs & makes headsets & their speakers. It's fun to try some of his stuff out. He has production & fun/testing designs. He can make the music sound as if it is coming from in front of you or behind you - actually, any direction. I quit trying his new headphones because even I can notice how crappy my regular speakers sound after listening to his.

message 45: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Feb 28, 2009 06:58AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim, what a great day for a birthday. Everyone celebrates with you on St.Paddy's Day!

I never thought about that kind of sound system for touring bikes. When thinking of sound, all I relate to in bikes is the loud noise of their motors.

In June we get Americade here at Lake George... bikes by the "hundreds, if not thousands". ====>

Some of the bikes are so loud when they go by that you can't carry on a conversation... and they go by in long strings on Route 9N because it's the long scenic route along the lake going from Lake George Village, at the southern end of the lake, to Ticonderoga at the north end of the lake (38 miles). The trip takes them through the woods over Tongue Mountain and there's a beautiful lookout spot at the bottom of Tongue Mountain at Sabbath Day Point. It's a great view of the northern end of the lake and the mountains there.

However, the loud bikes are very annoying. The bikers evidently love them. I really appreciate the thoughtfulness of the bikers with quiet bikes.

At the Americade link there are some great videos which give you an idea of the number of bikes and the beauty of the area as they take their rides. The videos give you a great tour of the whole area!!!
Here's the link to the videos: ====>

message 46: by Jackie (last edited Feb 28, 2009 08:56AM) (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4050 comments Definitely in the thousands Joy. It's an impressive sight but gets old real fast for the residents, LOL

I prefer the antique car show at the end of the summer. Now those are cars I can appreciate.

message 47: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments YES! I LOVE seeing the antique cars! Sometimes they parade themselves along Route 9N and it's so much fun watching them go by.

Is the show known as the "Adirondack Nationals Cars Show"? It's Sept. 11-13, 2009. I couldn't find a show with the name "antique cars" in it.

Anyway, below are links to some great photos of older cars from the Nat'ls Cars shows: ====>

Here are the Aug. '09 Events at LG: ====>

Here are the Sept. '09 Events at LG: ====>

message 48: by Jackie (last edited Feb 28, 2009 11:47AM) (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4050 comments You know, I have no idea what it's called, LOL
I call it the Antique Car Show, but I don't know if that's it's official title.

message 49: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments I'll try to find out.

message 50: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6330 comments We used to get the loud bikes going past our house in MD. It is one of the things I do not miss. I don't see the point & think it's rude. I too prefer the quiet bikes. I've heard that Harley Davidson actually makes their motors in an odd way to keep their distinctive, loud sound. Yuck.

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