This is going to be a visual depiction of all the stages of turning a spalted bowl.
FYI: Spalting is the process of allowing wood to go through a sort of controlled rot where fungal mycelium start growing in the wood creating intricate patterns. It softens the wood and makes it riddled with unseen fault lines.
Here are some sugar maple logs I cut three years ago and left in the woods to spalt. They were on bricks for air flow but the leaves and forest grew up around them.
Sweet! It looks like it’s spalted nicely
Bender likes to sit in the Jeep and watch. The tools scare him and he feels safe (apparently) in the Jeep.
The wood is still good and hard This is going to make a nice bowl.
Hmmm…the wood seems a little moist in spots….the rot may have gone too far.
I’m sure it’ll be fine. I’ll just spin it at a millon miles an hour close to my head. No problem.
Quick Bender check. Yep, still there. Time to start turning, hooray!
Fuck! That’s some deep tearout. It’s okay, I’ll just sharpen my skew and trim it off gently.
Okay, my skills paid off. I’m the boss of you sugar maple!
I left a big angle in the top so it was fancy. This was about 1.5 hours in. Just starting to hollow it.
Bender check. He’s in the front seat barely peering over. See him? Fry came out to watch because he has a sixth sense for when I am going to need a friend to console me.
Picking up a wobble from the base. That tells me the glue block isn’t holding. Fuck! Okay, I can handle this. I’ll just turn a tenon in the base very carefully and then mount it in my bowl chuck. I don’t like glue blocks anyway but spalted wood is soft and a bowl chuck can press too hard if you’re not careful.
Yup, that’s the big problem with spalted wood and bowl chucks. Seriously, fuck you, sugar maple. This is a little over 2 hours in and now the dream of this wood becoming a bowl is effectively over. I could make it a smaller bowl but realistically I don’t want to mess with it anymore.
HA! Who got the last laugh now you helicopter-seeded jackwagon! I cut you into scales so I’ll still use you for knife handles!
And there you have it. This is generally why woodturned items, particularly bowls and especially spalted bowls tend to be so expensive. Many things just don’t even make it to the finish line. Most turners laugh it off, because we have to. The folks who can’t laugh it off quickly leave the hobby.
I’m going to go drink some scotch and get back in the woodshop tomorrow to start something anew. Maybe it will blow up in my face, maybe it won’t.