Mahogany comes in many varieties and qualities. I was told mine is African Mahogany, and as with many woods, what lies on the inside of a board may be hidden from the outside. As I turned this piece to reach the depth I'd decided on, a dark stain began to appear and I was disappointed, thinking it may ruin the appearance of the wood grain. Deeper and deeper I turned the wood away, and lo and behold, a recognizable shape began to emerge.
The image of a crow running fast, stretched forward like a race horse, revealed itself and brought a big smile to my face. I guess it's true: Sometimes the greatest gifts are those unasked for!
Selecting and cutting into a new piece of wood is always a crap-shoot. You pick up a piece of timber, go over it carefully for flaws like knots, cracks and defects barely visible, then you select a portion of it with prominent grain patterns or unusual color, and decide how to mount it on the lathe.
This time, I was holding a bit of a cupped piece of cherry about nine inches wide. It had a slight yellow tinge to it, with prominent cathedral grain through its center. I carefully placed my compass to establish the workpiece avoiding small pin-knots and a lengthy crack, drawing a circle all the way to both edges to get the full effect of the piece. Then to the bandsaw for prep work, and the workbench to plane a section flat and pre-drill for faceplate holes, then the lathe. The crusty surface texture came off to reveal a beautiful, fine-grained swirl of color, and voila! a shallow, curled-rimmed bowl was born, through four hours heavy labor:
A few items shown on the business websites. Now that the weather has improved dramatically, it is much easier to get into the work shop and work on new designs. I'm going to have to scrounge or purchase more large, dried stock, as the big pieces of mahogany I had are already reduced to nothing. One more smaller platter will finish it off, and 16" wide pieces are not easy to come by.
Most of our local fruit woods are from pruned trees, which produce shortened, knobby, angled limbs of 'reaction' wood, under tension more on one side than another. This makes for lots of wood movement and twisting in individual pieces when working the wood. I air-dry my stock, so its moisture content is always a bit higher than ideal to begin with, and dealing with wood movement is a constant. The rich grain patterns and wide variety in colors make it well worth the trouble!
Besides my day job of managing a local tour bus branch, I also
do a lifetime's worth of woodworking, and have recently gone from
hobbyist to professional. Instead of opening a new Blog on the
business, I am currently converting this one to interests dedicated
to that endeavor, and my favorite quote still applies:
"Life may not be what we'd hoped for, but while we're here,
We Might As Well Dance!"
So please visit my new woodworking page on Facebook!
and see my new website at http://www.barbs.vpweb.com