I have been detailing the contents and the results of my working through the Craft Supply USA Box of Blocks offer. I finished 10 of the 11 blocks with one, a box elder, unable to withstand the pressures of the chuck, failed, which isn’t surprising for a wood that is just too soft for turning. But more on that later.
I have no idea what this blank is so if anything I tell you about it rings any bells, please let me know. The wood is a light reddish brown in color, it is fairly soft and the sapwood is quite white. It turned reasonably well and finished nicely, so although I don’t know what it is, it worked out well.
Box Elder is a terrible turning wood. It is much too soft so it chunks rather than cuts. It proved to soft to hold a divot for the chuck so one bowl blank just went into the trash in frustration. I think it is telling that Craft Supply USA doesn’t sell Box Elder blanks for bowls at all, except as part of these Box of Blanks scams, rather selling only STABILIZED pen blanks. Box Elder has no distinctive character and it takes a finish poorly. I wouldn’t waste my time again with it.
Walnut is a dream of a turning wood. It cuts beautifully, requires little sanding, and has a delicious color that takes a plain oil finish beautifully. This is one of my favorite woods to work with and it was by far the best blank in the box, except that it had significant insect damage on the edge where there was a bit of sapwood, so I had to lose all of the contrasting color and about 1/2″ of the total height of the bowl. But still, best in box by far!
Overall Thoughts About the Box of Blocks:
Most of the species here are utility woods, i.e. ash and poplar. The reasonable turning woods, Maple and Walnut, both had severe insect damage, as did one of the Ash blocks as well. The claim that these blocks are the same quality as the regular blocks is just not true. I wouldn’t purchase this product again, instead investing wood money into species I know I really want to work with instead of getting a poor quality selection of poor quality and small blanks.
Tools and Supplies:
The bowls were turned on my Robust American Beauty lathe. All cuts were made with Easy Wood tools. Bowls were chucked in Nova Chucks. Green Wave sandpaper from Packard Woodworks was used to final finish the bowls. ShellaWax was the finish of choice except for the Walnut where a natural color Watco oil was used.