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The best wood for turning includes the hardest essences with veins in strong evidence

The best wood for turning includes the hardest essences with veins in strong evidence




Speaking of wood for compact turning, we mean the one without knots, since, if it is true that these embellish a work of sculpture, they are dangerous in turning works. These in fact vary the hardness of the wood and the tool finds an obstacle in the cut that, indeed, can make it jump out with unforeseeable mechanical consequences, leaving in the piece of work a cavity not well filled.


Wood for turning - Hard or soft

The woods, for the purposes of industrial processing, are classified as hard, soft and resinous. For lathe machining it is good to choose hardwoods, and if the hardness is measured in the normal sense of the fibers it can vary from 0.5 to 6 kg / mm2; among these are to be preferred: peach, mahogany, oak, chestnut, walnut, ash, maple, cherry, beech, olive, boxwood, etc.

The most important operation to perform at the wood lathe is the shaping while the most artistic one is to highlight the wood fibers, which, except for a few, all have more or less marked. So the choice of wood must be made by giving preference to the one that has contrasting colored fibers so as to be more highlighted with turning.

The wood for longitudinal processing must be placed between the tip and the counter-point with vein parallel to the axis of the machine, while for transversal machining, the direction of the fibers can be both longitudinal and transverse.


Wood for natural turning

Turned wood in general should not be colored or lacquered because its characteristic consists in enhancing the veins and the relative shades of color; therefore after the finishing operation it is left natural or at most covered with transparent, mat or glossy varnishes.

In buying wood it is necessary to choose the dry one, without knots, without longitudinal fissures and transversal slits; avoid wood with a curved trunk or a decentralized heart because this can cause deformations over time. Finally discard the woods that present diseases such as putrefaction, corrosion and woodworm.


olive tree

Provides hard and compact essence timber. Yellow in color, tinged with darker lines, it is fragrant. Very valuable in cabinet making, for inlaying, building furniture and turning.


Maple tree

The maple provides lumber of good compactness, but not very resistant to humidity. Treated and polished, it takes on a milky color, striped with delicate pink veins. The main applications are inlays in luxury furniture, veneers and cabinetry.



Birch of soft fiber, but can be successfully worked with wood lathe and its light pink color, tinged with brown, lends itself to the production of plywood panels.

Ash tree

It is particularly suitable for being worked. It is of a veined mother-of-pearl color that is very tough. Today ash is mainly used for furniture, wall coverings and rustic furniture.

Elm tree

Provides hard and valuable wood; the fiber is coarse and tenacious, compact and elastic.

Very resistant to humidity. It has a light brown color, tinged with reddish lines; finds ample space in turnery works, rustic furniture and furnishings.

Cherry tree

Medium hard, compact, veined red brown. It deforms easily and tends to wobble. Cherry is often used in cabinet-making and furniture construction.

Wood for turning - The hardness of the exotic

In wood turning jobs, hardwoods are preferable because soft woods tend to crumble during the action of the tool, especially in sharp edges. Furthermore, with hardwood, you can work at a lower speed. Exotic woods stand out for their hardness and are therefore considered the most valuable.

This splendid African wood vase, where the contrast is given by the external and internal wood of the trunk, has a diameter of 114 mm and is 165 mm high.

The trial of the ball

How hard is the wood we have at hand? We can verify the hardness of an essence, compared to others, by dropping a steel ball from a predetermined height onto a piece of scrap; the deeper the left sign, the harder the wood.


Self-made lamellar

We can make a piece of the precious lamellar on our own by assembling wooden panels of various types carefully chosen (A) so that the colors give a harmonious and effective combination (B). Before putting the rough wood lathe, the piece is given an octagonal base (C); the final result (D) is a beautiful vase.Bonding requires a certain care both in the choice of the vinyl adhesive and in the pressing. The edges of the piece, once dried, must be rounded before starting to turn the wood.

Under the action of the tool the composite piece behaves like and better than solid wood.



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