George Vondriska

Electric Chainsaw + Log = Wood Turning Blanks

George Vondriska
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Duration:   5  mins

Bowl turners are typically scroungers. They’re constantly on the lookout for cool looking logs they can turn into bowls. Once you’ve got the log, how do you handle it to easily and safely turn it into a wood turning blank? Here’s one approach.

Why Logs?

When a tree is first cut down, the wood will be very wet. This is called green wood. Turners want to process the log into a wood turning blank and get it on the lathe while the wood is still wet. This makes turning the wood a lot easier, since green wood is softer than dry wood.

Logs also provide a way to get big bowl blanks; larger (and less expensive) than what you might be able to buy. If you can create large wood turning blanks from logs, you won’t have to glue pieces up to make large blanks for yourself.

Why be limited to species of wood a retailer sells? Cutting logs into bowl blanks means you can turn any specie of wood you can get your hands on.

Learning to Turn

Lathe turning can be very addictive. Watching blanks become bowls or spindles is a lot of fun. From body position to sharpening to correctly mounting blanks, there’s a lot to learn. Be sure to check out the variety of woodturning techniques that Woodworkers Guild of America offers.

Beyond Lathe Work

In addition to helping you with lathe work, WWGOA offers lots of other great projects you can work on. Any time you’re looking for woodworking project ideas, be sure to check out the wide variety of plans we provide.

Related videos:

How to Cut Bowl Blanks from Logs

Cutting a Log on a Bandsaw

Time for Turning Green Wood

Drying Wood in a Microwave

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11 Responses to “Electric Chainsaw + Log = Wood Turning Blanks”

  1. Michael Edelman

    No safety gear? I don’t pick up my saw without first putting on chaps, face shield, and ear protection. An electric chainsaw in the shop is just as dangerous as a gas saw in the woods.

  2. Paul Bellamy

    Doesn’t anybody in America use PPE. I find it unbelievable that you use a chainsaw and the only protection is ear plugs.

    • Customer Service

      Hi Mike. Yes, you should use bar oil on your chainsaw as your normally would. I’ve never had a problem where it penetrated into the wood so far that it caused a problem with finish on your bowl.
      Paul-Woodworkers Guild of America

  3. Mathew Johnson

    I read your article and got some got an idea about electric chainsaw and log. Really it’s interesting to see the combination of electric saw and log turning into woodturning blanks. Thanks for your amazing idea.

  4. Derrel

    Noticed you did not cut through the pith… are you concerned with possible cracking…

    • Customer Service

      Hi Derrel. Yes, the pith will crack as it dries. If I am going to turn a bowl right away, I will make a single cut going directly through the pith and just turn on the bowl face until the pith is gone. If I’m going to let it sit for a while before I turn it, I’ll cut the pith out as shown in the video, because when the pith dries it will crack into the good wood as well.

  5. Brian Muirhead

    17632 Ticket How fresh was this piece of wood you started with? It looked quite weathered and cracked. Also, how do you store it once it is shaped into a blank?

    • Customer Service

      Dear Brian,

      Thank you for your patience. In regards to your question-

      Although weathered and cracked on the outside, the wood was still pretty wet on the inner parts, probably in the 30% range. Once a blank is cut you can store it in a plastic bag to retain moisture, or coat it with a wax emulsion which can slow the drying process the minimize the potential for cracking.

      I hope this helps!


      Woodworkers Guild of America Video Membership

  6. Barney Heller

    great video on cutting down large logs for the lathe. Any thoughts about how to cut planks with a chainsaw using a ripping chain? They seem to be hard to find

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