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Turning Elm... (Read 508 times)
 
John Grace
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Turning Elm...
Sep 30th, 2019 at 2:13pm
 
My wood mill recently found me three 7'x16"x6" slabs of beautifully colored elm ($50 each).  I'm not sure what species of elm this is aside from the fact that the wood was harvested in MD.  Questions for the group include working characteristics, anything to be on the look-out for, and does the wood 'move' much when drying?  Thanks all...John
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Don Stephan
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Re: Turning Elm...
Reply #1 - Sep 30th, 2019 at 6:51pm
 
Both red and American elm turn very well for me  Can't remember how much it moves during drying.

Larger pores line up in regular wavy lines in late season growth, and delicate lacy medullary ray pattern when perpendicular to growth rings.  Fascinating to look at the grain.
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Al Wasser
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Re: Turning Elm...
Reply #2 - Oct 1st, 2019 at 9:07am
 
The Siberian elm we get in Colorado smells like dirty kitty litter.  No particular turning problems
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robo_hippy
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Re: Turning Elm...
Reply #3 - Oct 1st, 2019 at 11:40am
 
Most elm smells like cat urine. The smell gets better as it dries. Most of what we get here in western Oregon had huge growth rings from lots of rain and a long mild growing season. It has an inter locking grain which made it great for chair seats. What I have turned seemed to come off rather fuzzy.

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Arlin Eastman
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Re: Turning Elm...
Reply #4 - Oct 1st, 2019 at 6:36pm
 
I have many elm along with thousands of Black Walnut and 25 species of other trees growing on the acreage and I love the red elm or any other elm for that matter.

It has really nice grain and some of it smells and some do not weather fresh or dried.  I can say almost all wood shifts or warps to some degree while turning that is the big reason I turn all the wood dry or almost dry.

Some people like the shapes while drying and others like me do not so try it both ways and see what you get and if you like it.
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John Grace
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Re: Turning Elm...
Reply #5 - Oct 2nd, 2019 at 11:34am
 
Thank you everyone for your inputs...they're appreciated.
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Jurriaan Kalkman
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Re: Turning Elm...
Reply #6 - Oct 4th, 2019 at 6:22am
 
I love turning elm - freshly cut it has a beautiful contrast between heartwood and sapwood.

It doen't move much, and it resists cracking very well, so vases with the pit in the center are quite possible.
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« Last Edit: Oct 4th, 2019 at 6:22am by Jurriaan Kalkman »  

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Bill Moschler
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Re: Turning Elm...
Reply #7 - Oct 18th, 2019 at 7:56am
 
I love elm.  You made a good pickup.  Elm moves a lot when dried as lumber or thick boards. It is a difficult wood to work as lumber.   But as bowl blanks it is fine.   Very nice wood to turn.  A tendency to raise grain or fuzz if you try dull tools on it.
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« Last Edit: Oct 18th, 2019 at 7:57am by Bill Moschler »  
 
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John Grace
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Re: Turning Elm...
Reply #8 - Oct 20th, 2019 at 9:49am
 
Bill Moschler wrote on Oct 18th, 2019 at 7:56am:
I love elm.  You made a good pickup.  Elm moves a lot when dried as lumber or thick boards. It is a difficult wood to work as lumber.   But as bowl blanks it is fine.   Very nice wood to turn.  A tendency to raise grain or fuzz if you try dull tools on it.


Thanks Bill...in addition to the slabs he's already sold me, my mill guy has three more slabs waitting for me, all 7' x 16" x 6".  At a dollar a board foot it's a bargain and I'll now have plenty of wood to keep me going until year's end.  After doing some more research, I identified this particular wood as 'American Red Elm'.  I'd worked a little elm years ago but certainly not this variety.  When I first saw it I confused it with a 'lighter' variety of black walnut...very close to Claro walnut in color.
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John Grace
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Re: Turning Elm...
Reply #9 - Oct 20th, 2019 at 9:56am
 
robo_hippy wrote on Oct 1st, 2019 at 11:40am:
What I have turned seemed to come off rather fuzzy.


I've been alternating this weekend between White Ash and the Red Elm and I can see why the comments about 'fuzz'.  Though similar in color to Claro Walnut, this Red Elm's hardness is similar to that of a softer maple...but it's still incredibly 'wet', we'll see what happens after several months of drying.  You're right, however, when I first brought it into the garage it did smell a bit 'funky'...that seems to have dissipated though.
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Bill Moschler
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Re: Turning Elm...
Reply #10 - Oct 26th, 2019 at 8:04pm
 
Elm has "interlocked" grain making it very difficult to split.  The interlocked grain also makes it fuzzy.  In addition leaning stems of elm have a lot  of "tension wood".  Short fibered material with a high cellulose content.  That material also fuzzes.  The good thing about drying elm bowls is they split less often than some other woods.
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« Last Edit: Oct 26th, 2019 at 8:06pm by Bill Moschler »  
 
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John Grace
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Re: Turning Elm...
Reply #11 - Oct 28th, 2019 at 1:45pm
 
Bill Moschler wrote on Oct 26th, 2019 at 8:04pm:
The good thing about drying elm bowls is they split less often than some other woods.


Several have echoed those sentiments and my wood appears to be no different.  I acquired two large slabs of Ambrosia Maple at the same time as four slabs of the elm.  The Maple started checking within days of being brought into my garage whereas none of the elm has checked in the least.  In the attached photos...the two 'bottom' slabs on edge are elm as well as the two standing upright.  Good part is, my mill guy has another three slabs of the elm waiting for me.
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David Moeller
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Re: Turning Elm...
Reply #12 - Oct 28th, 2019 at 3:02pm
 
Elm does not get slippery when wet due to its interlocking grain and fuzzyness making it the choice for ramps and flooring for hoofed animals.
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