Lime from the roadside - use or ignore?

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Lime from the roadside - use or ignore?

Postby gavin » Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:42 am

A lime tree has come down at the roadside. I can have it for bowls. I have never turned lime, and I know it's favoured by carvers. I don't see 'lime' in the index of Robin Wood's book The Wooden Bowl - so perhaps it is not suitable??

1) What experience have others in turning lime for:
a ) bowls
b) spindles

2) Because it was roadside-grown ( i.e. not growing in competition for light with other trees) it will likely have more knots branches, twigs, and side growths and so be harder to turn.

Question: Would you drive 30 minutes each way to fetch such a log?
Whilst I am tempted to 'have a go' and see for myself, others' knowledge could save me time. e.g. I would not ever bother with cherry, for it's bowls are prone to split.
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Re: Lime from the roadside - use or ignore?

Postby robin wood » Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:47 am

gavin wrote:A lime tree has come down at the roadside. I can have it for bowls. I have never turned lime, and I know it's favoured by carvers. I don't see 'lime' in the index of Robin Wood's book The Wooden Bowl - so perhaps it is not suitable??

1) What experience have others in turning lime for:
a ) bowls
b) spindles

2) Because it was roadside-grown ( i.e. not growing in competition for light with other trees) it will likely have more knots branches, twigs, and side growths and so be harder to turn.

Question: Would you drive 30 minutes each way to fetch such a log?
Whilst I am tempted to 'have a go' and see for myself, others' knowledge could save me time. e.g. I would not ever bother with cherry, for it's bowls are prone to split.


turns OK but rather soft, I certainly would not use it for spindles which would be very weak but makes a reasonable though dull looking bowl. Well worth picking up for spoons though Claire would love it. Its too soft for a good eating spoon but very very easy to cut with a knife and axe so great for big serving spoons.

And the final answer no I would not drive 30 minutes to collect any log, think how inefficient that makes your lathe in total energy/time terms. But if it was there next time I was passing I would probably pick it up.
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Re: Lime from the roadside - use or ignore?

Postby Bertie » Sat May 09, 2009 10:56 am

Lime is often a little fluffy - that is in turning grain direction can make it uneven. For utensils it is not a good wood, having a distinct smell and agsain the "fluffy" aspect can spoil its utility.
There is also in comparison with other woods difficulty in drying larger pieces. The lime used for carving master works is carefully selected.
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Re: Lime from the roadside - use or ignore?

Postby Robin Fawcett » Mon May 11, 2009 3:38 pm

These are our breakfast bowls made from Lime several years ago. They are no fluffier than other woods and I never noticed any taste or taint.
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Re: Lime from the roadside - use or ignore?

Postby Bertie » Thu May 14, 2009 10:48 pm

Im delighted to hear it, even pictures to prove it - shows how much i know, or perhaps we have different standards?
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Re: Lime from the roadside - use or ignore?

Postby gavin » Fri May 15, 2009 6:20 am

Bertie wrote:Im delighted to hear it, even pictures to prove it - shows how much i know, or perhaps we have different standards?

Going by the images Robin Fawcett aka Treewright posted above, there would seem to be no hint of fluffiness. Nor does he seem to have sanded the ware. And yet my experience of my one lime-tree was fluffy.

What variables could be relevant in avoiding a fluffy surface:
    growth-rate i.e. ring-spacing
    moisture content
    sharpness of tool
    width of cut
(A small-diameter hook concentrates more power in shearing less fibres, so gives a smoother surface.)
    speed of rotation
(I have noticed that transferring the work from pole-lathe to powered-lathe for higher speeds will give me a much smoother surface - and that is using the same hook-tool. It applies more power to the cut.)

Please add any other variables you think relevant.

Bertie wrote:Im delighted to hear it, even pictures to prove it - shows how much i know, or perhaps we have different standards?

When you write of 'different standards', do you refer to the standard of your own ware, or the standard you find acceptable in others' ware?
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Re: Lime from the roadside - use or ignore?

Postby Bertie » Fri May 15, 2009 7:20 pm

I dont wish to tread on any toes here, but tool marks, and so forth would not be acceptable in the galleries where i try to sell my bowls - possibly mine are sanded to death as well - mostly i go for the non warped appearance too - yes sure, ending up looking like a machine made product, but that is what i aim for mostly with bowls -
Most of my machines are pretty old ---
Anyway thats by the by.
Modern machines are mostly equipped with variable speed so using hook type tools should be ok, in fact ill bet pretty efficient. Had some contact with a guy from cazakstan who only used hook tools - ill bet his lathes were motor driven without variable speed.
I suppose the ultimate would be to use a skew chisel over entire inside and out.
Problem with pole lathes for bowl work is the bearings - vibration in the bed and so forth, you are bound to get ripples and tool marks, but then if im not mistaken that for you is part of it.
I made quite a number of bowls in lime - the end grain was allways problematical as it never finished the same way the rest of the bowl did, leaving white patches in what woud otherwise be a good finish.
As for taste - the smell for me of lime was allways quite strong - old books perhaps. Spoon carving - the taste was allways there to begin with, but then i guess use would have cleared it up.
Never used lime for spindles as there were allways better woods available.
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Re: Lime from the roadside - use or ignore?

Postby gavin » Fri May 15, 2009 8:06 pm

Bertie wrote:I made quite a number of bowls in lime - the end grain was allways problematical

Are you turning bows end grain or side grain?
Were they at different stages of dryness?

If any reader is confused I want to know if Bertie mounts a whole bit of roundwood (with wood fibres parallel with turning axis )and turns out most of the inner part, leaving a floor to the cylinder thus created - that's end grain. Or does he split a log in say half, then mount the half-log in the lathe and turn away the side? (Then the wood fibres are at right-angles to turning axis)
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Re: Lime from the roadside - use or ignore?

Postby gavin » Fri May 15, 2009 8:27 pm

Bertie wrote:I dont wish to tread on any toes here, but tool marks, and so forth would not be acceptable in the galleries where i try to sell my bowls

Wouldn't it be fascinating to know if tool marks would be rejected or accepted by those galleries' customers! I wonder if we'll ever know? The presence of tool marks are a design decision by the maker, and can show you how the maker made the work, and how much energy was used. The acceptance of them is a value judgement by the customer, and an expression of how the customer sees quality. I don't think you tread on toes, I think these are similar themes to those in the qualitythread. If my energy use comment sounds like a swipe at those who use electricity to turn, I don't intend to swipe - I'll use a powered lathe myself.

Just imagine if the King of Norway were to dine off carbon-neutral table-ware from a Bertie-made pole-lathe at a state banquet, then Bertie'd be flooded with orders. The King would be making a green statement, the dishwashing machines in the royal kitchen would use no electricity, the kitchen porters would get more work washing up by hand. And others would think "That ware really is high status. I'm gonna show off how green I am before my dinner guests. What's Bertie's e mail address?"
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Re: Lime from the roadside - use or ignore?

Postby Bertie » Sat May 16, 2009 8:42 am

I allways turn without the centre of the tree for bowls, that is along the length rather than across.
Many years ago i used any way it came - some nice large elm bowls, sold to a very valued friend, fine for a few years, then separated along the grain.
The end grain im speaking of would be on 2 sides of the bowl.
I guess my view of bowls tends to be a bit commercial - some years i would make perhaps 150 large bowls (17/20 inch) and several hundred smaller ones - perhaps using about 20 tons of wood just for that, then more for furniture. Used a kiln for drying.
I like what you say about the tool marks - i found my bowls often turned down by galleries because i refused to turn out the screw holes. My bowls were not usualy turned down by the gallery owners or those that ran them, but by turners who wandered in and went tsktsk, not professional. This made me even more determined to leave the marks as it was not the people who baught the bowls. Further, its ok to leave a large hole in the base of a bowl where you used a chuck to mount -
Love the idea of the king of Norway - made my day.
Sadly though nature has so much to give us and we dont listen. Even to our own.
Perhaps a sign of maturity is when you can say that ( a further sign is when you say - ive still got a long way to go)
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Re: Lime from the roadside - use or ignore?

Postby SteveW » Sat May 16, 2009 10:29 am

An old Smithing friend was telling me the other day how he, as an apprentice, would get a clip round the ear for leaving even the hint of a hammer mark on a finished item. These days, the hand finished (beaten to within an inch of its life) look is de rigeur to make an item sell. I have seen "smiths" take pre bought machined items and distress them in the forge simply to get the extra price they can charge for hand made items.
Personally, I aim to make a hand made item and show that it is hand made by leaving tool marks in place when I think they add to the form without distracting from the function. I call it artistic interpretation :D

gavin wrote:
Bertie wrote:I dont wish to tread on any toes here, but tool marks, and so forth would not be acceptable in the galleries where i try to sell my bowls

Wouldn't it be fascinating to know if tool marks would be rejected or accepted by those galleries' customers! I wonder if we'll ever know? The presence of tool marks are a design decision by the maker, and can show you how the maker made the work, and how much energy was used. The acceptance of them is a value judgement by the customer, and an expression of how the customer sees quality. I don't think you tread on toes, I think these are similar themes to those in the qualitythread. If my energy use comment sounds like a swipe at those who use electricity to turn, I don't intend to swipe - I'll use a powered lathe myself.

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Re: Lime from the roadside - use or ignore?

Postby Andy Coates » Mon May 18, 2009 7:59 am

This is an interesting topic...tool marks on woodturned bowls (and other items), and one that as a power lathe turner I’ve become increasingly interested in.
Powerlathe turners ALWAYS sand to a 400ish finish, and my problem with this is that I don’t feel it is always called for. And I feel that often tool marks would add another aesthetic dimension to a bowl.


The problem, if there is one, is how the tool marks appear to the eye and touch. If they are inconsistent – unevenly spaced ridges and furrows, ridges and furrows of differing depths, and maybe also have spirals, then the tool marks are probably due to lack of control and an improperly sharpened tool...not good.
But if the tool marks are consistent...and I always use Robin W’s bowls as reference when speaking about this to power turners...then the tool marks are indicative of good tool use and add a whole new appeal to the piece of work (for me...as this is not a universally accepted case amongst power lathe turners...and perhaps Bertie feels the same).

I have recently had three bowls bought by a gallery in Marble Arch, power turned bowls, and they were not religiously sanded within an inch of their life, and were left “off the tool”. All sold at over 100% markup. The gallery have ordered more. So it is possible to sell bowls with a consciously left witness of process upon them.

But power turners still see tool marks, no matter how consistent, as evidence of a poor turner. So I guess I am a poor turner when I produce such things. Hey Ho.
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Re: Lime from the roadside - use or ignore?

Postby Bertie » Tue May 19, 2009 10:34 pm

I prefer the medim of skill as a judgement of a turner - not what he does with abrasives.
Mind you i shouldnt perhaps say this but bowls and turners is something im beginning to have little time for - simply because - "a good bowl will have no features or decoration - it will subscribe to the latest fashion dimentions so that we can judge if he or she is fit to be called one of us" what is it with power bowl turners that they are so frightened of decoration?
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Re: Lime from the roadside - use or ignore?

Postby gavin » Wed May 20, 2009 7:22 am

Bertie wrote:I prefer the medim of skill as a judgement of a turner - not what he does with abrasives.
Mind you i shouldnt perhaps say this but bowls and turners is something im beginning to have little time for - simply because - "a good bowl will have no features or decoration - it will subscribe to the latest fashion dimentions so that we can judge if he or she is fit to be called one of us" what is it with power bowl turners that they are so frightened of decoration?


My observation of my fellow demonstrators on the Norwegian Woodturning Cruise was that they often used decoration. We bought an item each from Richard Raffan and Mark Baker, and both these are decorated. In short, at the top end of the game, the turners will use decoration. Refer Richard Raffan's book Turned Bowl Design or Liz & Michael O'Donnell's Decorating Turned Wood - the maker's eye . Both are popular and good selling books. I especially recommend Raffan's.
I suggest the unattributed quote Bertie offers us above is but one opinion of many. (It also employs some rather sad tricks of rhetoric.) Like Bertie, I would have little time for someone offering such opinions, and suggest this board need pay that quote no further attention, nor enquire as to its source.
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Re: Lime from the roadside - use or ignore?

Postby Andy Coates » Wed May 20, 2009 8:02 am

gavin wrote:
Bertie wrote:suggest this board need pay that quote no further attention, nor enquire as to its source.


very sound advice, Gavin...but really! How can anyone let that slide?

This sounds like a quote from some obscure, and now out-dated, manual, and certainly has no basis in fact today.

Turners such as John Hunnex went through a stage of form over everything, clean lines, no decoration, paint it black to detract the eye from anything other than form, but this quickly became tedious and was dropped as a general approach. Whilst it can serve a purpose for highlighting a turners ability to produce a form with a series of pleasing lines, continuous curves, and proportionate shape, it has little appeal when a mass of similar items are produced and displayed.

The problem today is more inline with getting turners to stop using too much decoration, inappropriate decoration, decoration for decoration's sake, or poorly applied decoration.

I am glad to see that abrasive use does not come into your judgement system though. I feel it does for far too many.

Apologies for taking this further off-topic...I just couldn't leave it alone.
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