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Thread: Cypress or Sycamore for Turning Bowls?

  1. #1
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    Cypress or Sycamore for Turning Bowls?

    Is Sycamore or Cypress appropriate for turning bowls? I realize you can turn any wood, but some are better than others.

  2. #2
    Never turned cypress, but sycamore is right pleasant to turn IMO - rather plain except for the lace grain in the quarter cut. Easy to cut and sand and it does lend itself to other embellishments if one wants.

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  3. #3
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    White or sap cypress is awfully soft but can be turned. Red cypress(some resin) turns well.

  4. #4
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    I had a rare Bald Cypress at the corner of a driveway at our last house. Tree trimmers came by and cut off a limb, which I made into a nice tool handle. It cut beautifully, and is a dense wood. The rare thing is the tree was nowhere near any water, usually they grow in water (i.e., Reelfoot Lake).
    Maker of Fine Kindling, and small metal chips on the floor.
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  5. #5
    I have turned both. I like sycamore a lot more than cypress. As was said, cypress is pretty soft and very plan. If you use pyrography on cypress it looks really good.

  6. #6
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    Like Steve said Cypress is plain but is a great canvas to embellish. It also sandblasts well even as a soft wood. Sycamore is a nice wood to color or pyro or carve embellish. It also looks good spalted

  7. #7
    Well, sycamore is a plane tree.... Pun intended, but if you quarter saw it, as in bowl blanks need the center of the tree to be the bottom, then ray patterns are spectacular. Turns easily, and can spalt wonderfully.

    robo hippy

  8. #8
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    Right now I don't have access to "blocks" of sycamore, but do have access to quarter sawn 4/4 boards. Does it make any sense to to glue up the 4/4 quarter sawn sycamore into turning blanks? Would I get a good result or would the result be undesirable or maybe just very uninteresting?

  9. #9
    I've turned a bunch of sycamore. IMHO it's great for furniture parts that will be stained or painted. But it is rather unremarkable for bowls. Like John, I find it takes sharp detailing better than oak, but worse then maple.

    Realize too that bowls will show all orientations of the wood; so you can glue up qs parts, but parts of your bowl will still be ho-hum flatsawn (now with a seam). I'd be more inclined to use sycamore as a segment or ring between woods with more contrast.

  10. #10
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    Sycamore grows to great size so you can potentially get very large sizes for bowls; I've got a couple of bowls I turned and they've held up fine but the wood itself is rather nondescript looking.

    I've worked a lot of cypress in a house building job years ago but I've never turned any. I liked how it looked, though; more interesting, IMO, than sycamore.

  11. #11
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    Leland Cypress trees are dying here in North Carolina from an airborne canker disease , they are used as decorative trees in yards and are great for privacy. The wood is white, has lots of knots and the sap wood is rather soft. That being said the wood is beautiful. Great for NE bowls. I am losing about 25 trees on one side of my lot. The other side of my lot is not far behind.

    Jay

  12. #12
    Part of the canker problem could be over planting. They are over kill for most privacy concerns. They often put a neighbor property in too much shade to sustain fine old plants. I've heard that in England there have been law suits over the
    "black outs".
    Last edited by Mel Fulks; 06-13-2018 at 11:39 PM.

  13. #13
    Leland cypress in not cypress. It is more closely related to juniper than bald cypress. Cypress will not develop 'knees' if it grows outside a swamp, but it will grow just about anyplace the climate is right. I have one in my back yard here in western Maryland. Bald cypress is part of a small group of deciduous conifers. Others are larch, mountain redwood, dawn redwood (list is not complete).


  14. #14
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    sycamore is a great wood. One of my favorites. Very stable. turns well. It's all about the lace patterns and color. I have had some with nice red streaks in it.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Carroll View Post
    Leland cypress in not cypress. It is more closely related to juniper than bald cypress. Cypress will not develop 'knees' if it grows outside a swamp, but it will grow just about anyplace the climate is right. I have one in my back yard here in western Maryland. Bald cypress is part of a small group of deciduous conifers. Others are larch, mountain redwood, dawn redwood (list is not complete).

    Deciduous conifer is the key there. I thought my Bald Cypress was a dying pine tree because it lost all of its needle in winter. My tool handle made from a sawn branch was a pleasure to create and the wood, though lightweight, is still dense. Very tight growth rings (probably because of location not near a creek or water source.

    As for sycamore (American sycamore), also called water maple because it can grow next to creeks here in TN - I received a nice 16" diameter x 18" long log section. I ripped it into 2 halves and removed the pith. Beautiful red color inside. The growth rings on it were 1/4"-3/8" per year. Very fast growth. I am going to make a few urns from these pieces, and maybe a medium sized bowl.
    Last edited by Mark Greenbaum; 06-15-2018 at 7:35 AM.
    Maker of Fine Kindling, and small metal chips on the floor.
    Embellishments to the Stars - or wannabees.

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