Northern Rockies Woodworking Guild

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Free Artistic Wooden Turnings

Would you like the chance to have an artistic wooden bowl or other turning from local wood? If you are having a tree cut down and removed in the Bozeman Montana or Butte Montana area by a tree removal service, you have the opportunity to have this tree turned into a work of art or a keepsake. This is the best way to remember a tree that has graced your property for many years. When the tree removal service takes down a tree they will work with the homeowner to dispose of the wood to the homeowner's wishes. Some people keep the wood for firewood or the tree service will haul the wood to the dump.

If your beloved tree is used as firewood it is gone forever and it contributes to global warming. If it is sent to the dump it just fills up the landfill. The best use of this wood is to have it turned into artistic pieces. Most of the tree removal services do not want people around while they are cutting and because they are being paid for the job and want to move fast they take a dim view of strangers interrupting their work asking for some of the wood. The best way to turn your unwanted trees into artistic pieces is to contact one of the Northern Rockies Woodworking Guild members before you contact the tree removal service or the arborist to see if the tree or wood will be suitable for turning. Contact one Guild member and they will round up the other members that will be interested. Then you can schedule the tree removal with the service and the Guild members will arrive to take the desired pieces. If you instruct the tree removal service that you want some of the wood saved they will work with us.

Now the fun begins. The wood turner will typically use a chain saw to reduce the pieces of tree into pieces that will fit on to their lathe then they will rough turn the bowl blank.
Green wet wood is the best for this process. The goal is to rough turn the bowl shape while the wood is wet and green then control the rate that the moisture escapes to limit the checking and splitting. Most wood if not rough turned to begin with will just split and crack making it difficult to use for a turning. After the wood is rough turned then a special coating may be added to reduce the rate the internal moisture escapes then the rough turned bowl blank is left to dry for a period of 1 month to a year depending upon the wood type, initial moisture content and drying techniques.

In some cases the wood turner might skip the rough turning process and piece is turned while green to the final shape then it is allowed to warp and take on its own personality. After the drying process has been completed then the wood turner will position the piece back on the lathe for the second turning. By this time the rough turned bowl blank has warped and moved. The bowl is turned true to the final artistic shape and sanded smooth then the finish is applied. The final touch is a signature by the artist/wood turner on the bottom.

How do you get an artistic bowl out of this process? Make the arrangements with a Guild member before the tree removal service shows up and negotiate with the wood turner for a bowl. Typically a finished bowl is given in exchange for the raw wood but you can work that out with the wood turner. If you want more pieces to share that treasured tree with other people that appreciated it you can work that out. This is a case where one man's trash is another man's treasure and you can share in the treasure. The Guild members will not cut down the tree for you. That is best left to the professionals.

Most of the trees in Bozeman and Butte have the possibility of being turned into artistic pieces. Trees that are already dead hold little interest but trees that are actively growing are preferred. The preferred tree types are hardwoods such as Green Ash or other members of the ash family, Maple, Box Elder and fruitwoods. Willow and quaking aspen can produce some nice size bowls. Some great pieces can be turned from pine and fir also. It does not have to be complete trees either. Many branches are big enough to turn some artistic items from. Various members have different sizes of lathes and preferences for what they like to turn so we can generally find someone that will try to turn a piece of wood. The gnarly lumpy pieces that might form around the base known as burls can produce some of the most impressive pieces.

Save a tree and cut down on global warming by having it turned into an artistic piece.

Contact the following Guild members to see if the tree that you are planning on having removed could be turned into an artistic piece.

  • Jess Tode 587-5692
  • Tony Huckert 284-6654
  • Gordon McMullen 587-2373
  • George Stanislao 388-4353
  • John Morrison 582-0753
  • Wayne Hansen 585-1178
  • Jim Palakovich 763-5155
  • Dan Olsen 494-8392
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©2004-2007 Northern Rockies Woodworking Guild    Last updated 07.05.07