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Sycamore tips

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by John Hicks, Aug 7, 2020.

  1. John Hicks

    John Hicks

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2020
    Messages:
    200
    Location (City & State):
    Hoodsport, Washington
    I was out getting some walnut logs and this guy had a huge sycamore log (over 5ft across), and of course, sopping wet green. He milled a nice chunk 3 inches thick, and bark to bark for me; I got 12 18x18 square blanks from it. The color is very pink in the center with some figure I wasn't expecting. I have never turned sycamore other than a piece or two for small lidded boxes.
    Can this be turned wet? I've read it moves like crazy after turning, and is hard to stabilize. Do any of you have any suggestions on how to store/dry this stuff? I plan on cutting one of the blanks up into 3x3's for small lidded boxes.
    There is always such great advise and a conglomerate of experience within this community; you'll have to excuse me for asking so many questions. I can't wait until my local AAW chapter is able to meet again, as I have saved a bunch of logs for the raffles.

    IMG_7814.JPG
     
  2. robo hippy

    robo hippy

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2007
    Messages:
    2,856
    Location (City & State):
    Eugene, OR
    Most of the sycamore I have turned is rather plain colored. I did get one that was redder than that when fresh cut, but the red faded when exposed to air. It still had more color than the other sycamore trees I had turned. Best figure is from the medullary rays, and to get the best showing of that, it needs to be quarter sawn, so with bowl blanks, you want the center of the tree to be the bottom of the bowl, or a center slab for platters. Yes, it holds a lot of water, and frequently warps way past the 10% rule for twice turning. You can leave it thicker than most woods for once turned bowls, say up to about 3/8 inch thick. It will soak up huge amounts of finish. It turns easily.

    robo hippy
     
    John Hicks likes this.
  3. Dave Bunge

    Dave Bunge

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Messages:
    108
    Location (City & State):
    Midland, MI
    My only experience with sycamore was disappointing. The log had pretty bad ring shake. Some was obvious and easy to avoid. But some didn't show up until rough turned blanks started to dry. I don't think I ended up with any finished bowls. Not sure if that is common in sycamore or if I just got a bad log. But perhaps something for you to watch out for.
     
  4. Gary Beasley

    Gary Beasley

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2017
    Messages:
    599
    Location (City & State):
    Marietta, Georgia
    Quartersawn sycamore has a pattern similar to snakewood and can look quite nice finished out right.
     
    Curtis Fuller likes this.
  5. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    Aug 14, 2009
    Messages:
    1,023
    Location (City & State):
    Peoria, Illinois
    Flat sawn sycamore moves a lot when cut into lumber, and you should see a fair amount of movement as it dries. Turns just fine wet
     
  6. Donovan Bailey

    Donovan Bailey

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2017
    Messages:
    193
    Location (City & State):
    Gainesville, VA
    Here on the east coast, sycamore grows best in low-lying wet/damp areas (along streams, rivers, etc.). As such, the wood tends to warp pretty badly as it sheds all of the moisture so you need to turn is extra think if you are thinking of a twice-turning. I've tried to once-turn it on several occasions but not been very successful with it due to the warp. The wood cuts and sands great...but I always seem to end up with a greasy look to the final finish no matter what finish I try.
     
  7. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2004
    Messages:
    6,480
    Location (City & State):
    Lakeland, Florida
    Home Page:
    Sycamore has nice ray flecks.
    Makes a nice NE Bowl,

    Is ok for a twice turned bowl up to 12” where they don’t move so much.

    Easy to turn and work with. Generally uninteresting wood except for the ray flecks

    In this thread there is a link to the part of the demo where I return a dried bowl.
    This dried bowl is sycamore 11” diameter. It’s roughed out at about 1.25”
    It yields a nice long bowl around a 3/8 - 1/2” wall thickness
    A screen grab from video shows the oval ness inside after the outside of the bowl is round.
    78D3D399-1F56-4DA6-B568-79C7D545D887.jpeg
    My method of lining up then work for returning let’s you ge the largest finished bowl from a dried rough out.
    https://www.aawforum.org/community/index.php?threads/working-with-green-wood.11626/
    bowl was dried in bags.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2020
  8. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

    Joined:
    May 25, 2019
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    Location (City & State):
    Eads, TN
    Home Page:
    I just this week cut up some very big slabs of sycamore I got from a neighbor. Huge tree. Most of top was dead and punky but a lot of bottom 6' or so was very solid wood that looks exactly like your blank. Some good color that I hope holds. Good to know how it moves a lot. All bark gone and outer part of tree not solid enough to keep so will plan my traditional bowls accordingly for warping.
     
  9. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2018
    Messages:
    151
    Location (City & State):
    Baltimore, MD
    Like Dave, above, I’ve had some disappointing experience with sycamore with ring shake. Just a few days ago I threw a few pieces on the fire that I’d had drying for a couple of years, and saw were separating in a way that precluded getting any decent bowls out of them.
     
  10. Owen Lowe

    Owen Lowe

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
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    887
    Location (City & State):
    Newberg, OR: 20mi SW of Portland: AAW #21058
    I love the sycamore that grows in the Pacific Northwest. One of my favorites to turn - yes, moves a lot - reminds me of Madrone in the surface textures left after drying. Finishes well with oil/varnish. The fine ray flecks are reminiscent of quarter-sawn cherry.
     
    John Hicks likes this.
  11. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    Aug 14, 2007
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    Location (City & State):
    Eugene, OR
    I think that most of what we have out west is London Plane, and you pretty much need to be an arborist to tell the difference. I remember the American Sycamore trees back in the mid west in the winter, they were white and kind of looked like skeletons out in the woods. They can have 1 inch growth rings out here because we get a lot of rain and have a long mild growing season. The biggest difference between madrone and sycamore warping is that I can predict what the sycamore will do. You just can't ever tell for sure with madrone.

    robo hippy
     
  12. Jason Goodrich

    Jason Goodrich

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    12
    Location (City & State):
    Portland, OR
    I just rough turned a pair of sycamore bowls at 22” and 23” diameter. Of course I look for advise after turning them. This tread is making me a bit nervous. I sealed them up and I guess I will just have to wait and see how they do.
     

    Attached Files:

    Greg Norman and John Hicks like this.
  13. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
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    Location (City & State):
    Brandon, MS
    In turned a 16 inch bread bowl with little problem. Cannot tell you how bad the movement was but it is still making bread every week. Just use bags and watch it.
     

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