Eucalyptus Oyster Bowl
In early January 2013 I received a telephone call from a friend who was helping a neighbour clear a large Eucalyptus tree that had fallen across a boundary wall in the storms. “Would I like some of the timber for turning?”
There are over 700 species of Eucalyptus. I still have no idea which this one is- but I do know that it is native to Australia- a fast growing tree which consumes an enormous volume of water to feed its growth. The freshly cut timber sinks in water because of its weight and after drying and seasoning circumferential shrinkage can be as high as 35%.
We met on site and I cut two 20 inch slices from the tree –this length was slightly more than the diameter of the trunk. The pith (or heart) was in the centre of the tree and a split developed from here within a few seconds of being cut.
My plan was to make a large, thin, end grain bowl and see how the shrinkage would shape the wood as it dried. That same day I mounted a slice approx 10in thick on to my VB36 using a face plate and off I went using a large 7/8th inch bowl gouge to shape the piece. After initial shaping I turned to my normal swept back gouge to refine the shape and reduce the thickness of the bowl to about 3/16th. There was no way I could have a foot to this bowl –it had to sweep round the bottom maintaining the 3/16th thickness to reduce the chance of it splitting.
Once finished I sat back and watched as the wood, totally naturally, moved into the most amazing curves. I could almost see it move and within days it had developed its sweeping curved form and after a fortnight had attained its final shape. I scorched & textured the rim and as a small split had developed in the centre turned and ebonised a hollow ball of sycamore to fit snugly in the base and hide the crack. This turned it into my “Eucalyptus oyster bowl” or “The black pearl”.
It was great fun to turn and has created a lot of interest.