A Tale of Two Bowls

Two Bowls 1

This is a pair of bowls I turned some time back.  Turned from spalted pecan, there’s really not much to make them stand out from the crowd.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m well satisfied with both bowls.  They have good shape and proportion, the bottoms (which you can’t see) are well finished, and the wall thicknesses are proportional to their size, and harmonious to the overall form.  However, that simply puts them in the same class as a thousand other bowls out there.

OK, Robert, some of you should by now be saying, so what’s the point of putting them out here for us to look at and read about?  Simple:

They’re turned from the same log section.

That’s right, these were turned from the opposite sides of the same cross-section of a pecan log.  To make things more dramatic, they were turned within a few days of each other.

Around here, spalted pecan is usually cream-colored, with black lines, much like spalted maple.  The bowl on the left comes closer to this norm, though with the less-common grey patches.  The bowl on the right, however, came as a complete surprise.  I have never seen that sort of coloration from pecan before.  As usual, the log had been dumped in the shade and left for a while to wait for that elusive sweet spot balance between good color and incipient rot.  If the blanks had come from different parts of the tree, or had been stored differently, the outcome would have been less surprising.  However, coming from quite literally right across the log from each other, these results are unmatched by anything I’ve done before.

What’s the point of all this?

Always remember that wood is a natural material.  It’s location, growing conditions, and even the amount of sunlight conspire to make every log a surprise.  Always keep this in mind when choosing wood for projects.  Whenever possible, get all the lumber for a project from the same tree, and even then, try to cut mating pieces from the same board.  Your chance of a good match is much higher that way.

These bowls are a graphic example of just how much wood can vary in color, consistency, and other properties. In this case, the surprise was a pleasant one.  Choose your wood carefully, and avoid the unpleasant ones.


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