Woodturning Blog: Articles, Tips & Ideas

Transform Logs --> Bowls

by Paul Carter | March 06, 2017 | 3 Comments

Downed trees are a plentiful source for woodturning blanks, however, before you turn on the saw it is important to understand the best practices for cutting and storing your own blanks.

Inspecting the Tree
As you inspect a fallen tree, make sure to distinguish between limb wood and trunk wood. Generally, trunk wood includes fewer knots and irregular growth, features that add uniqueness to your piece but tend to warp and crack. 

Storing Before Cutting
Until you are ready to cut your log into blank sized chunks, store the wood in long pieces to limit the number of open ends at risk for cracking. Using a sealer, such as this one offered at Packard Woodworks, will guard against checking. Don't worry about removing tight bark, it will actually slow moisture loss and protect against splitting.

Cutting the Log
When you are ready to cut the log into blanks, it is helpful to understand that the middle of the log is called the 'pith' and is the tree stem. This area is very unstable, tends to dry unevenly, and should not be included in your turning blanks. Following the diagram below will allow you to cut two bowl blanks from a log while avoiding the volatile pith area. 

how to cut a log for woodturning blanks


Once you've cut your blanks don't forget to mark, seal and store them in a dry area until you are ready to mount them on the lathe.

Happy turning!

Information drawn from this helpful Wood Magazine article. And this informative video.


November 03, 2021


Thanks for the tips on log cutting. Save those quartersawn sections on either side of the pith too.
https://vanduynwoodwork.com/2019/08/26/wood-turning-blanks/ has some good info on sourcing free wood to cut up too.

November 08, 2020


Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?

June 13, 2017


Good tips on cutting a log. I try to wait until late summer and winter to harvest the wood, there will be less moisture in the wood. Spring wood is the wettest and hardest to dry without cracking and checking.

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