Northwest Bitter Cherry - anyone turned?

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by JeffSmith, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. JeffSmith

    JeffSmith

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    I've just been given acces to a very large - 18 - 24" dia. Bitter Cherry tree that was taken down here on the island. Haven't been to check it out yet - can't get there 'til this weekend. Thought I'd see if anyone has experience turning it. I've seen several on my hikes in the woods out here, but never one that size.
     
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  2. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    If it's like any other fruit or ornamental fruit, waiting too long will result in heavy checking. Can't imagine any wood with cherry in the name would be trouble turning.
     
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  3. Lamar Wright

    Lamar Wright

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    That's great Jeff, I see the bitter cheery trees are common in the PNW. Like Richard said should not be hard to turn. The only cherry wood I've turned is pen blanks. Can't wait to turn my first cherry Bowl! Happy turning.
     
  4. JeffSmith

    JeffSmith

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    Richard - I've got lots of experience with woods that crack and warp - Madrone is a native species up here, there's three small guys on our property...so I'm planning to roughout and boil. These are another native species in the Pacific Northwest - I've found several on hikes through the woods - just never seen one this large (at least as large as the neighbor who offered it says it is) or turned any. I have turned a little cherry, but it was black cherry I bought several years ago.

    Just wanted to know what to expect before getting going.
     
  5. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    I was speaking more towards quickly processing the log, and very conservative storage conditions for the blanks.
     
  6. JeffSmith

    JeffSmith

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    planning a couple of marathon roughing and coring sessions, everything goes into the boiling pot as it comes off the lathe. Last bowl of the day, or one of the smaller cores, gets turned to final thickness and left to dry to assess what its going to do. Anything I can't rough in a reasonable amount of time goes into the wood trough and soaks until I can get to it.
     
  7. Zach LaPerriere

    Zach LaPerriere

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    Jeff, My neighbor worked as a professional turner and woodworker in Fairbanks (100 miles this side of the Arctic Circle) for a couple decades before giving it all up to be a full-time sailor for 25 years. She said that it's an amazing wood, capable of astounding colors, wonderful to work with, and worth its weight in gold. My understanding is that they're reasonably small in central Alaska, but still fairly common.
     
  8. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    Bitter cherry (Prunus emarginata) is not covered in The Wood Database, and a couple extensive and reliable forestry databases don't include the usual commentary on wood properties and uses. You'll just have to try it and let all of us know what you find out. In my experience, our 2 local chokecherry species (neither of which are bitter cherry) are not much like black cherry or sweet cherry, though they are very nice to turn, and split quickly as has been mentioned. (BTW, all plums and cherries are both part of the plant genus Prunus, in case I've confused anyone.)
     
  9. John Tisdale

    John Tisdale

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    Jeff,
    It will be exciting to keep up with your progress on this one. I'm currently turning my first cherry...black cherry. Judging from some of the comments above, it is not as extreme as the effort you're about to make.
    I think concerns about cracking are well founded - the stuff is volatile. Because I do large hollow-forms and have a full-time day job, I've found that the only way to keep the cracking down is to use pallet wrap after each session. And now that I'm hollowing I keep probably 10+ layers of plastic wrap.
    Thanks for sharing and send pics
     

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  10. JeffSmith

    JeffSmith

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    I will send some picks. I got a look at the tree the other day. recently felled - about a week ago. it's about 24" diameter. Discussed how to cut it with the generous neighbor - since I'm off-island for a few days, I won't get a chance to cut into it until the weekend. colr does, indeed look like cherry, but short sections his arborist cut off already show radial cracks. The trunk section is about 15 feet long so I'm hoping to get it cut and roughed soon.
    Unfortunately, the arborist that took it down for him pretty much destroyed the main crotch before I got a chance to stop him.
     

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