Root ball turning

wade harrison

New User
wade
I have never posted on here but have seen many examples of sound advice.I now seek such advice.I would I am good on a wood lathe but now I am in new territory.I have 3 root balls from some very good sized holly trees.Have had them a year so they are dry and ready to work with.Ihave seen videos and they were not mush help accept for the cleaning them. As you can see they are good sized and I will start with the small on.So here it is.If anyone has any advice on more of what not to do I will take all pointers I can get.I just see a really beautiful out come with being patient and outside wisdom.Looking forward to any nuggets of knowledge.
IMG_20200505_202848681.jpg
IMG_20200505_202848681.jpg
 

SabertoothBunny

SabertoothBunny
User
Start by cutting off the long root sections as much as you can. From there, maybe start with shaping them on the lathe to the general shape you want (round oval, etc). Fill large voids as needed and just take your time as they will probably start out off balance. Sharp tools and PPE.

Holly is a softer wood so it should turn without too much difficulty. I personay like holly, the light coloring of the wood is very attractive.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
The most attractive rifle stocks have butt sections from the root area of the tree. It is often not very stable but it has very interesting grain and color. I assume this will be true in your root balls. but they may also still contain dirt and stones which can be hard on tools. If you have a chain saw you might want to use it to get to rough size for a turning blank (be careful, chain saws are dangerous). A bandsaw may also be useful (and safer). Even a reciprocating saw could be handy to get a blank ready for the lathe.
 

Raymond

Raymond
Corporate Member
Those are much too dangerous looking, you should give them to me. :cool:

Good advice given so far - the main thing is take your time and wear your PPE.
 

Dee2

Gene
Corporate Member
Pressure wash them if there is still visible dirt. FWIW, I've got some heart pine stumps laying on the driveway that I pulled out of the ground in January. The rain has removed most of the soil. Need to brush them with a good stiff brush, portion them, and cast them in something - its an experiment.

Been out of the ground for a year and you think they're dry. I wonder. What's the rule of thumb? One year/inch?

Once delimb, think of them as a tree trunk and select your bowl billets accordingly. Unless you want to make (big) vases; then turn 'em like a spindle.

My thoughts. YMMV.
 

RickR

Rick
Senior User
Also, remain cautious even after they are surface clean... Since they grow at/under ground level there can be stones embedded within the material.
 

wade harrison

New User
wade
Pressure wash them if there is still visible dirt. FWIW, I've got some heart pine stumps laying on the driveway that I pulled out of the ground in January. The rain has removed most of the soil. Need to brush them with a good stiff brush, portion them, and cast them in something - its an experiment.

Been out of the ground for a year and you think they're dry. I wonder. What's the rule of thumb? One year/inch?

Once delimb, think of them as a tree trunk and select your bowl billets accordingly. Unless you want to make (big) vases; then turn 'em like a spindle.

My thoughts. YMMV.
I kept them in my shop and did a test drill hole. I have had 1 other person mention casting in epoxy resin,however that seems an expensive risk with my experience level at this point.Maybe a little down the road.
 

NCTurner

New User
Gary
Take your time. Along with flying rocks and other debris, roots are often not as solid as they appear, and as you turn material away they can split and become flying rootballs.
 

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
I usually cut the sticking out branches and then use the band saw to get it circular. Good advice to check for rocks or metal.
 

Steve Martin

Steve Martin
Senior User
I agree with others that you need to use chainsaw or bandsaw to get a piece of a root ball into a basically round shape. Begin turning at slow rate (probably slowest your lathe can turn). Watch out for rocks, dirt etc. as has been said. One other point, a rule of thumb is that green wood dries about one inch per year, so I don't think either of your pieces are dry and probably won't be for several years. The water adds to the weight of each piece and increases the instability as you begin turning, the water also makes the wood softer and easier to cut/turn. Be careful and Good Luck!
 

Mrfixit71

Board of Directors, Treasurer
Rich
Staff member
Corporate Member
I turned a smaller holly root ball a few years ago after it had air dried for a couple years. It split and cracked as I was turning it. I was able to salvage 2 bowls using epoxy to fill the cracks ( and didn't do a very good job with the epoxy). The colors and grain were awesome though.
 

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