You won’t see many walnut bowls like this

20 August 2012, New work, Would you like to leave a comment?

Cumbrian walnut is scarce at the best of times and rarely available to wood turners. Most of this timber is planked for furniture makers, or sold on to companies who specialise in veneering. Its dark chocolaty brown colour looks simply stunning and everyone who works with wood aspires to use it at some point.

In 2010, I was offered a section of trunk from a tree which had just been felled. I could have planked it, but suspected there could be some impressive bowls in the tree and decided it must be turned. Although beautiful to work with, walnut is renowned for being full of cracks and large sections often yield only small pieces of useable timber.

From the first cut with the chainsaw, I could see the possibility of getting big bowls from the timber – there were still cracks, but with a little care I knew there was scope for something special. In the end, I managed to get three huge lumps and a collection of smaller bits for good measure. The larger pieces were incredibly heavy and required some effort to mount them on the lathe. However, as I started to rough turn them, I could see the patterns emerging – these were breathtaking pieces.

The bowl blanks were kiln dried a few weeks ago, after a good 18 months air drying in my shed. I’ve decided to finish the largest one first, so I can have it as a center piece in my showroom. The photo shows me on the lathe, roughing the blank down to size. The drying process has caused a lot of distortion, but this is quite common in walnut. 

So how does it look when finished? Well, unfortunately, I don’t yet know! I will however, have it finished and oiled by the end of this week along with some other large pieces I am making for C-art in September. You may want to come and have a look…

Jonathan Leech

Written by Jonathan Leech

Jonathan Leech is a woodturner working and living in Cumbria. He specialises in making bowls, dishes and platters from local sustainably sourced timber. Read more or about Jonathan or see a selection of his work.

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