Why spend hundreds on premium lumber…

…when windstorms have a way of turning up the best lumber around? Working in the woods last summer in the Pine Barrens, NJ, a huge windstorm passed through, uprooting a gorgeous red cedar. Since it was now only termite food, I had no qualms about taking my chainsaw to it to steal a piece of nature for a turning project. The red heartwood contrasts with the white sapwood for an eye-catching final product. I started with a piece a couple feet long, long enough to make a couple projects, before roughly cutting it up with a chainsaw to a size my Delta midi-lathe could handle when turned perpendicular to the grain.

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This wood had recently fallen, so it was still very green. The piece even sprayed my fingers while it was being turned on the lathe. I roughed out the basic shape I wanted before letting it dry overnight. I’ve read in many sources that green wood should be turned oversize, and let dry for weeks, maybe even months. However this cedar seemed to dry enough overnight to make it able to handle the next day without consequence.

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The next day I got the piece to the final dimensions and let it dry overnight once more before sanding. After sanding I applied a Tung Oil finish to the piece. The color of the heartwood darkened to it’s final red color in a couple weeks, but I didn’t notice any ill effects from not letting it dry fully before finishing. I gave it away as a gift several months later, and it hadn’t warped at all.

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That’s the story of my Cedar Goblet. It has kind of an awkward shape, but it’s great for storing keys and change. And hey. It was free!

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