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Thread: How well does Red Gum turn?

  1. #1
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    How well does Red Gum turn?

    I have a Red Gum tree that is outgrowing its environment. Street tree specified by the HOA. Really a poor choice as there was no doubt that those trees would start heaving sidewalks, as they are now. I can level the sidewalk but 5 years (or less) from now I'm going to have the same problem again. Looking at the tree today, I'm thinking it's probably time for it to come down. Hate to lose it. It's a pretty tree but totally in the wrong spot for as large as it would eventually get.

    So I'm wondering if Gum turns well? It's about 14-15" in diameter at the base. Seems like it could become bowl and peppermill blanks, maybe some small vessels.

    Thanks!
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  2. #2
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    Turns like a dream. At least I think this was red gum.
    sweetgum1.jpg

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Coers View Post
    Turns like a dream. At least I think this was red gum.
    sweetgum1.jpg
    Wow, look at that! Very nice Richard. Just curious, what are the dimensions on that vessel?
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Tymchak View Post
    I have a Red Gum tree that is outgrowing its environment. Street tree specified by the HOA. Really a poor choice as there was no doubt that those trees would start heaving sidewalks, as they are now. I can level the sidewalk but 5 years (or less) from now I'm going to have the same problem again. Looking at the tree today, I'm thinking it's probably time for it to come down. Hate to lose it. It's a pretty tree but totally in the wrong spot for as large as it would eventually get.

    So I'm wondering if Gum turns well? It's about 14-15" in diameter at the base. Seems like it could become bowl and peppermill blanks, maybe some small vessels.

    Thanks!
    I got a tree a few years ago and sawed some boards and some thick stuff for turning. It was a bit soft but turned easily and the color was nice. I'd cut that thing up into blanks, seal, and air dry.

  5. #5
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    Looked up Red Gum in the wood database to confirm that sweetgum and red gum are the same thing. They are. But they distinguish the sap wood as sweetgum and the heart wood as red gum. They aslo mention that the heartwood is found in more mature trees. My tree is probably 17 or 18 years old. Is that old enough for there to be a significant portion of heartwood?
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Tymchak View Post
    Wow, look at that! Very nice Richard. Just curious, what are the dimensions on that vessel?
    10" tall, 4 3/4" diameter at the largest part.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Tymchak View Post
    Looked up Red Gum in the wood database to confirm that sweetgum and red gum are the same thing. They are. But they distinguish the sap wood as sweetgum and the heart wood as red gum. They aslo mention that the heartwood is found in more mature trees. My tree is probably 17 or 18 years old. Is that old enough for there to be a significant portion of heartwood?
    I think the gum I sawed was about 16-18" in diameter and had plenty of heartwood, quite colorful.

  8. #8
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    This is only slightly related...
    I turned a sweet gum burl a couple of years ago. While the figure was great, the color was so consistently white that there was no grain pop when finished. Turned great, but disappointing "wow" factor. YMMV, I hope!

  9. #9
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    Played with some gum few years back... it was about 20" diameter... absolutely no brown... just pure white... was nice to work with when kiln dried though..
    but as Eugene said... so white and grain almost invisible... very soft and turned easily...

  10. #10
    Sweet gum is pretty soft. It will spalt nicely. I would never have one in my yard. One reason is that they send out roots across the top of the ground, which is hell on lawn mowers. Two is those little pokey balls they drop. Can't walk bare foot in the yard. They do have nice fall colors. When you said red gum, I was thinking of the eucalyptus trees. They can turn wonderfully, but are prone to cracking.

    robo hippy

  11. #11
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    Finding gum with a large heart section is a crap shoot in our area, even for very large trees. Most have a very small red gum heart.
    Here's an urn I did in spalted sweetgum and spalted maple burl a while back...roughly 14" high IIRC. Turns well, but is fairly soft.
    DSC_2936_006DSC_2936mod.jpg, DSC_2939_007DSC_2939mod.jpg, DSC_2951_011DSC_2951mod.jpg
    Last edited by Ted Calver; 12-15-2021 at 12:53 PM.

  12. #12
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    Thanks to all for replying and I appreciate the pics of those beautiful pieces from Richard and Ted. I had not seen any Red/Sweet Gum turnings before. Not sure if the wife will be on board with losing the tree so it may not come down anytime soon. But someday I'll be turning some Gum....
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reed Gray View Post
    Sweet gum is pretty soft. It will spalt nicely. I would never have one in my yard. One reason is that they send out roots across the top of the ground, which is hell on lawn mowers. Two is those little pokey balls they drop. Can't walk bare foot in the yard. They do have nice fall colors. When you said red gum, I was thinking of the eucalyptus trees. They can turn wonderfully, but are prone to cracking.

    robo hippy
    Reed, thanks for the tip on spalting. Haven't tried that yet but I think I will when I take that tree down.

    Re: roots and seed balls - yes, both are pitas. The roots are destroying the sidewalk and actually suck so much water out of the soil that the lawn around the tree gets stressed in the summer heat. And the seed balls will drop all winter long, so I can look forward to several mid winter cleanups.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  14. #14
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    Anyone found a good use for those seed balls?
    Hobbyist

  15. #15
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    Paint them white and you will have a natural, cheap, rustic tree ornament. Old family tradition, OBTW.

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