Gnarly - Voids, Cracks and Crevices
( did I mention Worm Holes? )

John Lucas, in Wood Central 'sTurning Forum, suggested starting with the worst piece of wood you've got, and seeing what you can make out of it

That led me to this gnarly piece of weathered wood full of voids, cracks & crevices.

A little bandsawing to get a piece that seemed like it could be turned revealed some interesting wood inside.
The figure in this shot is called Feather Figure - and all those swirls and bumps and nodules you see on the outside
means more interesting grain under that weathered surface.

A little roughing and I had a decent start on an interesting piece

Here's what I have in mind - IF - I can figure out how to hold the piece to turn into the top.

But there's one small little problem that needs to be solved before I can play with the top of the piece.

If you look at theses top and bottom shots you'll have spotted that there's a void just under the top. Were you to look into the two crevices near the bottom, you'd find there's also a large void just under the bottom - that runs all the way up to near the top. Here's my problem. The lower part of this piece of wood is honeycombed with voids - very little solid wood for chuck jaws to hold. Turning it to this point was an accident waiting to happen.

Can't turn a tenon on the bottom for a compression grip. Can't turn a recess in the bottom for an expansions grip. NOW WHAT?

So I turned to Wood Central's Turning Forum, presented my problem and asked for HELP!. With a ton of very experienced turners participating - no surprise - several solutions.

Then there is an option that is the result of a serendipitous acquisition while attending a Makers Faire - ShapeLock. BB sized little white plastic pellets, which when heated to 150 degrees F, become a transparent thick viscous material that you can mold like warm taffy. Once cooled it returns to a hard white plastic that ShapeLock says can be machined and painted.

Here's my test sample. Note that while hot, it's transparent- allowing you to see where it's gone. That's kind of handy. When cooled and returned to its white solid state- you CAN dent it with your fingernail - if you push hard enough, though you can't dent it very deep. But many of the woods I've turned are as soft or softer tha this stuff when cooled.

The potential issue with ShapeLock is its lack of adhesion. It DOES NOT seem to adhere to much other than other plastics. That means that for the application I have in mind it is going to have to rely on a mechanical connection - undercuts.

I think I'm going to go with Option 5 - Suspenders AND a Belt - the Glue Block reinforced with ShapeLock, mounted to a Backer Board screwed to a Face Plate. This will give me more support for the piece AND let me put the center of the "bowl" anywhere I want. Doesn't require a Tail Center so I can use the MiniMonster to do the bowl.

more to come