Sugar Maple 🍁 into Pen Blanks

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cheetah1965

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Mar 30, 2021
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Vancouver, WA
Several months ago I had my Sugar Maple trimmed. This Lady is a huge tree. I kept the large branches that I was going to chop up and add to the fire 🪵 pile. Now with this new hobby I am thinking that I might be able to make blanks out of some of it. Does anyone have any thoughts about this idea or good places to learn about how to accomplish this?
 
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Gary Beasley

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Sep 18, 2009
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Marietta, Ga. USA
The wood will need to be dried first. If the branches are more than an inch thick you would want to cut them into oversize pen blanks first so they can dry faster. I have used a toaster oven set on the lowest heat and baked them for a day. Than can warp them on occasion, sometimes splitting, but can usually be used with a bit of sanding on an upright belt sander. Ive also used whole branches if they are big enough, even those found on the ground semi decayed. Ive made some beautiful pens from a dead branch broke off an ornamental cherry tree. Your sugar maple is a good candidate for spalting too.
 

Larryreitz

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Salem, CT USA
All the above is good advice, but let me suggest an alternative. Don't dry it all. Let some weather, preferably in a damp environment. Hopefully, over time, you will get some nicely spalted pieces. It a bit of hit or miss so I would not recommend doing all of it this way and it's impossible for me to tell you how long to let it go. Probably at least 6 months. Check it and if it's not well spalted use it for firewood or turn it as is. Attached are a couple of pics I got from ignoring a section of sugar maple that the State took down from my property because it was old and too close to the road. Also a pic of a pen I made from some. The blanks and pen used stabilized sugar maple.
Depending on the degree of spalting, stabilization may not be necessary. Good luck with it and keep having fun.

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montmill

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13528 Old Hwy. G Montfort, Wisconsin
Another benefit is hard maple is a nice wood to turn and learn on. Many wood turning demonstrators ask for hard maple to use in the demo. There's a reason. Cherry is also nice. Soft maple can be a little more difficult but it can have more figure.
 

howsitwork

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Why’s not try out a couple of bowls for size and experience ?
start with say a 6” diameter blank, most. between centres and cut a mounting spigot for a chuck

Cut them to about 1” thick wall thickness then bag in a paper bag and leave somewhere for a few weeks. Change the bags after a few weeks and weigh the bowl. Once it stops losing weigh its stable and can be remounted and turned to say 1/2” wall thickness then sanded and finished.

For the pen blanks cut them to about 1” diameter , overlong and coat the ends with pva before putting to one side to dry for a while.
 

cheetah1965

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Mar 30, 2021
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Location
Vancouver, WA
All the above is good advice, but let me suggest an alternative. Don't dry it all. Let some weather, preferably in a damp environment. Hopefully, over time, you will get some nicely spalted pieces. It a bit of hit or miss so I would not recommend doing all of it this way and it's impossible for me to tell you how long to let it go. Probably at least 6 months. Check it and if it's not well spalted use it for firewood or turn it as is. Attached are a couple of pics I got from ignoring a section of sugar maple that the State took down from my property because it was old and too close to the road. Also a pic of a pen I made from some. The blanks and pen used stabilized sugar maple.
Depending on the degree of spalting, stabilization may not be necessary. Good luck with it and keep having fun.

View attachment 303653View attachment 303654View attachment 303655
That is some beautiful wood.
 

cheetah1965

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Mar 30, 2021
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79
Location
Vancouver, WA
Why’s not try out a couple of bowls for size and experience ?
start with say a 6” diameter blank, most. between centres and cut a mounting spigot for a chuck

Cut them to about 1” thick wall thickness then bag in a paper bag and leave somewhere for a few weeks. Change the bags after a few weeks and weigh the bowl. Once it stops losing weigh its stable and can be remounted and turned to say 1/2” wall thickness then sanded and finished.

For the pen blanks cut them to about 1” diameter , overlong and coat the ends with pva before putting to one side to dry for a while.
I just started turning a couple weeks ago. Focusing on pens. I don’t think I have all of the tools needed for bowls, etc.
 

howsitwork

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Micro Bowls can be 1” diameter , the only one who decides is you ! Smaller can be more challenging

You do need a dedicated bowl gouge for bigger stuff
 

cheetah1965

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Mar 30, 2021
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Location
Vancouver, WA
Thanks everyone for your advice. Since I have plenty of wood to work with, I think I might try a bit of each. I love the idea of seeing if I can get some good spalting. Also keep some chunks to try bowl turning down the road. Lastly cutting some blanks oversized and seeing how they dry. I think there was one more suggestion, I will have to go back and find it. This should be fun to see how it turns out. Pun not intended. :)
 
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