Has Anyone Tried Unusual Plants for Penturning? Ivy? Bird of Paradise? Climbing or Fibrous Plants?

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penicillin

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To be clear: I am asking about the natural "wood" after drying. This thread is NOT about casting or stabilizing "punky" woods.

A few years ago, I turned a pen from a down Brazilian pepper tree branch. The wood turned out plain but nice. I still use it.

Fast forward to today, and we have various overgrown, unwanted plants all over our yard. That includes various kinds of climbing plants such as "big leaf ivy" and bougainvillea, a huge bird of paradise plant that is starting to grow into the power lines, a bottlebrush tree, etc. I have been cutting them back and trimming them each week, a little at a time.

While doing this work, I could not help but notice that some ivy branches can easily grow thicker than 3 inches in diameter. The thick ivy branches feel like wood. Some of the thick ivy branches look like they might be dried and turned into pens. Not all "woods" look as promising as the ivy. The bird of paradise is huge, but the inside is soft and fibrous. That fibrous "wood" from the bird of paradise looks useless for woodturning or woodworking, but perhaps I am missing something. Some people turn palm (with difficulty, so I hear).

I searched, but could not find anything about whether anyone has tried woodturning these climbing vine and fibrous "tree" plant branches. I would like to know if others have explored these woods. Is anybody turning ivy or other common plants that are not usually considered for woodturners?
 
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1080Wayne

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The ivy will certainly turn , although I would stay away from it if it`s the poisonous kind . I consider anything 3/4 inch diameter and over as turnable , as long as it`s straight enough for the piece I want to make . Honeysuckle , grape vine , the root of a rose , and many others can often be turned without stabilization or casting . The fibrous one are much more difficult or impossible without being hardened in some way .
 

sorcerertd

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It's funny you mention the bottlebrush tree. I have a couple pieces here that I just waxed last week. It was supposed to be a smaller bottlebrush bush that was a gift to Mom from my sisters and I. the "sibling plant". Fast forward a few years and it turned into quite the large tree, not only too big for a foundation planting, but there was the fear of it interfering with the septic line. They decided to cut it down, so I asked them to send me some interesting looking pieces so I could make everyone pens from it.

I don't really have experience with other things such as this, but I do plan to kill some wisteria pretty soon before it kills my fence. Kudzu is on the list of things to try, also. I do know that people have turned grapevine and even poison ivy (poison ivy doesn't bother me, but I don't think I'd want to sell a pen made from it).
 

JohnU

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I know a local guy (who’s not online) that turns poison Ivy all the time. He dries and stabilizes it first so there’s less of an issue with getting a rash while turning it. He’s offered me a few pieces over the years but I haven’t taken him up on it yet.
 

leehljp

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I was given a piece of a 4" diameter dead vine about 6 ft long from a dead tree that was cut down - down the street from me. (I asked for it.) I took it home and cut it into pen blank size. Turns out it was poison oak. Doctor let me in ahead of others - who were there before me - without me uttering a word!
 

Fine Engineer

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The only one I've used so far is Sage, and it makes for some beautiful pens. It is a little difficult to work with, but well worth the effort.
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This required no stabilization either, just cut, trim, wax and dry, then cut to length and turn.
 

woodwzrd

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I know a local guy (who’s not online) that turns poison Ivy all the time. He dries and stabilizes it first so there’s less of an issue with getting a rash while turning it. He’s offered me a few pieces over the years but I haven’t taken him up on it yet.
I met Tony at MPG when he stuck around and helped me try to figure out why my truck wouldn't start. I was blown away when he told me he turned poison ivy. I am not allergic to it but also not sure I am brave enough to find out just how much I'm not allergic to it by turning it, stabilized or not haha.
 
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First of all, palm is the devil. I hate it, always splits on me. Some have said it will turn well when stabilized so I will stabilized what I have and try that again at some point.

As far as wood plants/shrubs, yes. There are wild vine plants growing everywhere I live that I need to make the time to cut up and try. Honeysuckly is a big one I plan to try.
 

RunnerVince

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Pomegranate is not technically a tree, but it turns wonderfully. It looks almost white when unfinished, but yellowed (I can't say if it was instantly or over the course of about a year) somewhat under a CA finish. It's fairly straight-grained and not that insteresting, so I'd say it would be best used in segmenting.
 
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