Making Your Own Turning Blanks

ask WWGOA text with a man

“I had a nice cherry tree go down in my back woods that I would like to use for turning blanks. It is about a foot to 10” across. What is the best way to dry something like this?

WWGOA Editor Response:

If you want to turn the pieces as logs, which would make natural rim bowls, you don’t want them to dry at all. You want to keep them as wet as possible as long as possible. Logs don’t dry well, they’re prone to cracking. Coat the ends with paint to prevent water from escaping the end grain and, if the bark is on, leave it on to slow evaporation through the long grain. Cut it to a blank when you’re ready to use it.

If you want to have square turning blanks you can process the log on a bandsaw and make 2 x 2s, 3 x 3s, or bowl blanks. You should still paint the end grain to slow drying, but this material can be stacked and stickered to air dry.

Also, check out these related videos:

Cutting Lumber from Logs

Air Drying Fresh Cut Lumber

George Vondriska

Managing Editor

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7 Responses to “Making Your Own Turning Blanks”

  1. Dan

    A good inexpensive way I found to keep the blanks from splitting or cracking is get the cheapest toilet wax ring , I get them from Home Depot for $1.49, melt it down and coat the end grain really good, haven’t had any problems with cracking

  2. Colin

    I turn my bowls wet “green” and then let them dry in a cool area, introducingthem the haet gradually. this will not give aperfectly round bowl but induce interesting twist. Any cracks can be filled with resin or drill holes and introduce a lace to tie the crack . One other technique is to turn to a finish, place the bowl in the microwave hets for 30 secs then place bowl into a plastic bag and seal to retain any evaporating moisture. repaet daily until required dryness is obtained.

  3. tlsceo

    I had a nice 16in round Hickory log cutoff, but it began to split bad, so it band-sawed it to bowl blanks, and have had to cut them even smaller to get rid of the many splits and circular gain split or unwinding. How do I stop this and will they do it later?

    • WWGOA Team

      That is a bummer, and I’ve been there. The only way to minimize this effect is to slow the drying process. Without taking any measures to slow this down, the wood will dry much faster at the end grain because moisture can escape there easier. This causes the wood to shrink at the end but not in the middle, and this stress causes the wood to crack. So, what I’d suggest is to cut the bowl blank as soon as possible. The sooner you can turn it the better. If you won’t be able to turn it for a while, seal it with wax (, or put it in a plastic bag along with any wet shavings that you have from the wood and tie the bag up tightly. I’d suggest even tossing a cup of water in the bag as well to introduce a bit more moisture, because it will be losing moisture quickly as soon as you cut it open.
      Once it is stored like that you should be able to keep it that way for several months as long as you store it in a cool dry place.

      • Greg Norman

        If you put it in plastic for more than a week fungi will start to grow and discolor the wood.

  4. George

    If you want to make a bowl turn it over size.Take the saw dust& chips put it in a paper bag and cover the bowl with them.And then turn the bowl every month turn it for about 1 year tell its dry.And hope it doesn’t crack to bad on you.And then finish it after its dryed.