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Thread: sycamore

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Pineville Ky
    Posts
    13

    sycamore

    Is s.e. Kentucky sycamore a good wood for turning? It grows on trees here but I always heard it was good for nothing. Anyone used it?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Fredericksburg, TX
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    2,495
    Sycamore is good wood for turning. I try to pick up any being cut down around town if possible. The grain often has rays that are amazing with oil finish. I have turned large platters, large hollow forms, medium turnings, and even little lidded boxes. Getting fresh cut trees, the wood usually will be turned thick (about 10% D wall thickness) and left to dry packed in shavings in a paper bag or you can turn thin to final and let warp some. Some of the dead tree wood will have some spalting in the dead wood. Go for it and have fun.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    9,732
    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Bays View Post
    Is s.e. Kentucky sycamore a good wood for turning? It grows on trees here but I always heard it was good for nothing. Anyone used it?
    I've heard that sentiment over the years about several species including hackberry and sycamore. Both are respectable woods for turning. Sycamore has fine grain and incredible ray fleck. When I get it I don't turn it green but cut into turning squares and put it up to dry. You can read a bit about sycamore and what it is used for on the Wood Database: https://www.wood-database.com/sycamore/

    JKJ

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Quorn United Kingdom
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    543
    I was told demonstrators at woodturning shows in the UK often use sycamore

    The rational for the choice of timber is it cuts well and produces wonderful shaving This gives the impression to the audience that the demonstrator is a competent turner

    Edit I looked at Johns suggested website and found

    Not to be confused with European Sycamore—which is actually just a species of maple (Acer pseudoplatanus)—Sycamore is sometimes referred to as “American Plane” in Europe.
    Last edited by Brian Deakin; 06-13-2020 at 6:26 AM.

  5. #5
    Sycamore might get a bad rap because it has a relatively unremarkable grain pattern and color. As John said it has great quartersawn profile, but itís Hard to make the most of that when turning. It can also develop grey streaking making the heart and sap wood look unappealingly different.

    However, It is softer than other hard woods, so itís easy to turn and sand. So itís a fairly pleasant wood to turn; itís a great candidate for dyeing or painting.

  6. #6
    We have mostly London Plane out here in Oregon, and the American Sycamore is pretty rare. They can grow huge. They spalt easily as well. If you can, you want quartersawn blanks, so the center of the tree is the bottom of your bowl or platter. It does tend to hold a lot of water so there can be a lot of shrinkage and warping. Most of what I have had is rather plain in color. I did get one once where when you started to cut, the shavings came out fire engine red. The color only lasted an hour or so, and then the wood was a darker brown than most I have gotten. If you cut standard bowl blanks, with the outside/bark side being the bottom of the bowl, the wood figure is very plain. It would be a good orientation for a painted piece, or maybe some coloring. Not sure how it does with pyrography.

    robo hippy

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Northern Illinois
    Posts
    196
    CFA1EAAE-0970-4FA4-88DD-65B9616872F8.jpg4EC96DE7-6DAD-4E6E-A98F-3AB1B7C1F2BE.jpg

    I had a spindle blank left over from a natural edge sycamore bowl I turned last year and just turned some off-center boxes this week.

    The lighter box has 3 sides and is stained with plain Danish oil and the darker has 4 sides and is stained with dark walnut Danish oil. The dark walnut really shows the ray flecks. This was my first tray at doing a 4 sided box but I think I like the 3 sided better as it is more striking to have a triangular top/bottom and The curves are more pronounced.

    Tom

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Kansas City
    Posts
    1,484
    You can sometimes find sycamore with some pretty good red color in it. The pieces I've had warped like crazy even after kiln drying.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Pineville Ky
    Posts
    13
    Thank you all for the great information. I think I,ll give it a try . Thanks again

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Ambridge, PA
    Posts
    959
    Agree with all the comments. As an example of how much it does/can warp, here's a once turned bowl less than 3/16" thick. 10 1/2" long diameter x 8 13/16" on the short.
    sycamore1.jpgsycamore2.jpg
    Member Turners Anonymous Pittsburgh, PA

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