A Dozen Walnut Bowls

When working through my wood stocks, which are generous, I discovered a series of Walnut blanks obviously cut from a board along with a larger blank sourced from Michigan at some time in the past.  I grouped all of these blanks together since they were all Walnut, a wood I have often worked with in the past.

The larger bowl measures 8″ x 3″ while the smaller dishes measure, on average, about 5.5″ x 2″.

The large bowl is rather plain but most of the smaller dishes feature varying degrees of pale sapwood which makes for an interesting interplay between light and dark woods in one piece.

In writing about my experiences with Walnut in the past I noted that it required a great deal of sanding, but I think my skill levels in cutting have increased because these pieces required very little sanding at all.  Walnut is rather porous and it doesn’t take a natural high shine regardless of how finely sanded it is, so I took it down to 400 grit and then stopped.

As is my habit when working with Walnut of any kind, for the final finish I turned to Watco Danish Oil. I always use the “natural” color selection because I don’t want to obscure the naturally beautiful color of the Black Walnut wood with any tint or dye. The walnut soaked up the Danish Oil easily, especially along the end grain sections, so I continued to apply until I achieved an even finish.

A Dozen Walnut Bowls

These types of finishes are known as “hardening” finishes. They work by soaking into the wood and then undergoing a chemical reaction that causes the oil to harden on exposure to the oxygen in the air, creating a protective finish not just on, but also in, the wood itself. While this process can be inhibited in particularly oily wood, Black Walnut does not have a high oil content so these types of finishes work quite well.

I did experience quite a bit of frustration with some of the dishes because I wasn’t leaving enough anchoring material around the divot cut for the forward chuck which caused the walls of the divot to break very easily, also in part due to Walnut being fairly brittle.  I was able to rescue these pieces by remounting in the Cole Jaws, cutting away the damage, cutting a new deeper divot with heavier walls, rechucking in the forward position, and continuing on with the hollowing.  Believe me, there were times when the effort didn’t seem worth the reward in such small pieces but perseverance got me through it.

All major cuts were made using the Easy Wood Tool system on my Robust American Beauty lathe, although I do use Robert Sorby bowl gouges for light final passes before sanding.  Forward chucking was in a Nova Chuck, while reverse chucking was done using a Nova Chuck with Cole Jaws.  Sanding was with Gold and Green Wave sanding discs from Packard Woodworks. Final finish is Watco Danish Oil in Natural.

As always, I wish all my readers a great experience in whatever your wood working interests happen to be and to those who like working with lathes especially, do a good turn today!