Wood turner people help: Is this a good piece to start with?

Hi, and first off sorry if this is in the wrong forum but I don’t think there is a forum for crafts and home learning!
I am going to be having a go at wood turning on a small lathe, and wondered if you wood turner people (there must be some on here!) would think this cheap eBay piece might be an ok piece to start with.
I know yew tree is a hard slow growing wood favoured by turners for its brilliant colour and as this is a cheap piece I can cut into plenty of have-a-go pieces, I thought I’d ask someone first.

The eBay number is 183701919552 Seasoned Yew Branch for Turning Carving Real Wood
That’s the title of the listing if that also helps locate it.

Appreciate your help, thanks.
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Replies

  • EachPennyEachPenny Forumite
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    Hi, and first off sorry if this is in the wrong forum but I don’t think there is a forum for crafts and home learning!
    I am going to be having a go at wood turning on a small lathe, and wondered if you wood turner people (there must be some on here!) would think this cheap eBay piece might be an ok piece to start with.
    I know yew tree is a hard slow growing wood favoured by turners for its brilliant colour and as this is a cheap piece I can cut into plenty of have-a-go pieces, I thought I’d ask someone first.

    The eBay number is 183701919552 Seasoned Yew Branch for Turning Carving Real Wood
    That’s the title of the listing if that also helps locate it.
    If you are a complete beginner then you'd be better off starting with some 'rubbish' softwoods, just to practice the skills and techniques. By 'rubbish' I mean anything you can find (you shouldn't need to pay for it ;)) the only important thing is to avoid wood with nails in it, or anything which has significant splits. The nails ruin the cutting edge on tools, and wood with splits in it can potentially break on the lathe causing pieces to fly off in unpredictable directions.

    Also, the wood doesn't have to be seasoned in order to turn it (in some ways wet wood can be easier to turn), so don't ignore the possibility of getting some bits from anyone offering a cut-up tree as firewood. It is fine for practice, but the objects you make from wet wood will probably split as they dry. (Some people deliberately use this technique for decorative pieces.)

    I'd also consider using a site like Freecycle to ask if anyone has any offcuts or suitable bits for turning... many craftspeople hate to throw good materials away so keep them 'just in case', but would be willing to give them away to a beginner who will use it for something other than firewood.

    The time to start buying quality wood is once you are confident in the techniques and know what you want to make. :)

    Lignum Vitae is another popular hardwood for turning... my top MSE tip is that junk shops often have old Crown Green/Lawn bowls made from Lignum Vitae and sell them for a pittance. These give you a decent size block of wood to work with, or can be sawn down for smaller objects.

    Good luck with your new hobby. :)

    (I'm no expert, but my brother is a professional turner and I learnt the basic skills from him at a fairly early age)
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
  • DaftyDuckDaftyDuck Forumite
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    I agree with EachPenny.... start simple, start cheap. I have a similar recommendation for a practice purchase ... buy a bit of turned furniture, like a wooden chair. You can pick one up for a couple of quid, it can be on its last legs(!) But, if it has turned legs, you can turn that wood, proven fact! Try altering a part of one. Then, try and make the other match!

    If you find someone selling logs, ask to look through their heap, and find one you like. They will probably give it to you. As would any wood yard worth its salt give a single piece to a first timer... after all, you will be back!

    I'd give you that piece for nothing, and five more like it! In Somerset, you can't be more than a mile from somebody else with a wood heap!

    Equally, no expert, but I can make a chair leg or a bowl.
  • Cinders2001Cinders2001 Forumite
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    Such good advice! Thank you!
    I love Lig Vit Wood ! I have some lacemaking bobbins made from it.

    I will try what you say!
    Thank you!
    ** Freebies and money saved with the help of you all? - Don't know ....lost count! **
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  • Cinders2001Cinders2001 Forumite
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    Thank you! I expect I can find something local!
    ** Freebies and money saved with the help of you all? - Don't know ....lost count! **
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  • Cinders2001Cinders2001 Forumite
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    Pine splits easily doesn’t it? So not a good choice?
    Is that because it is a fast grower unlike the Yew?
    ** Freebies and money saved with the help of you all? - Don't know ....lost count! **
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  • EachPennyEachPenny Forumite
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    Pine splits easily doesn’t it? So not a good choice?
    Is that because it is a fast grower unlike the Yew?
    It is fine for practice, and well-seasoned wood shouldn't split at all.

    The faster the wood grows the more widely spaced the growth rings, and typically the less dense the wood.

    There are lots of reasons why wood splits, but a less-dense one with large growth rings is more prone to splitting than a denser one. It is also harder to get a good finish on a less-dense timber (the grain and pores cause the surface to be rougher, and the fibres tend to tear rather than cut cleanly).

    But there are many different types of 'pine'. You might be lucky to find some "Parana Pine" which was commonly used for things like staircases and window boards. That is a very high quality wood and easy to turn. Keep an eye out for anyone doing refurbishment work and check their skips for things like newel posts. ;)https://www.gshaydon.co.uk/blog/parana-pine-find
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
  • CyclamenCyclamen Forumite
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    Cinders. My husband and Dad turn wood and as you are in the next county I thought I'd chip in.

    Have you heard of The Wiltshire Wood Recycling Centre near Castle combe? I've never been but they came back with a boot load of bits of wood for a reasonable price as described it as an Alladins cave with shelves full of random lumps of wood that has been salvaged.

    There is also a place called Yandle's that is over in Martock. They have all the bowl blanks, wood varieties and so on. This is more pricey but both Husband and Dad go on 'shopping trips'. They have an 'off cuts' bin and my Husband has found some great little bits of fancy wood in there for what he tells me is a bargain price.
  • Cinders2001Cinders2001 Forumite
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    Oh that’s great!
    Thank you!
    Glad you ‘chipped in’ 👍
    ** Freebies and money saved with the help of you all? - Don't know ....lost count! **
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  • ka7eka7e Forumite
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    There are a few Men's Sheds in Somerset and despite their name, women are welcome! The one in Bridgwater specialises in woodwork and has the tools and wood available for newbies to practice with more experienced members on hand. It's called SLAMS and has a FB group for info.
    "Cheap", "Fast", "Right" -- pick two.
  • silverwhistlesilverwhistle Forumite
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    I'd second what others have said about not buying wood. I collect wood for my wood stove and never buy any although keep a few briquettes inside for convenience.



    But in collecting wood I've had all sorts, including tropical hardwood offcuts from my neighbour who does joinery work. In that case it was such a sacrilege to burn that I kept it and eventually found a wood turner to take it off my hands. Similarly I was collecting rounds of chestnut from a tree felling and there was someone else there collecting for their woodworking dad.


    Poplar is a nice soft wood to practice on, and is particularly good for doing intaglio work.



    Keep your neighbours informed: you might end up with something and fruitwood is a common leftover from suburban garden cut-backs.
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